If you want a good job in North Dakota, you might not need a bachelor's degree. Advance CTE, a coalition of career technical education professionals, says 49 percent of North Dakota's good jobs are held by those without a four-year degree. The organization defines a good job as one with a median income of $55,000 and earnings of no less than $35,000.
These good jobs are most often found in industries such as manufacturing, natural resources and construction. However, you can also find positions in many of the state's key sectors, including energy, life science and aviation. Wind turbine service technicians, respiratory therapists and veterinary technologists have some of the fastest growing jobs statewide.
Technical schools in North Dakota provide training for these and other occupations, and the education program you choose may depend on where you live. For instance, Minot Area Development Corporation has named unmanned aerial systems (drones) and distribution as two of its targeted industries which means jobs in these sectors may be more plentiful there.
Why is North Dakota Good for Vocational Schools?
Career schools in North Dakota teach what are sometimes called middle skills. In other words, they offer an education that is past high school but not to the level of a bachelor's degree. Trade schools have associate degrees and certificate programs that are intended to prepare students for specific technical occupations. Unfortunately, with the emphasis placed on four-year colleges and universities today, students don't always consider trade schools for their education.
As a result, North Dakota has a technical skills gap, and the North Dakota Workforce Development Council has made filling that gap one of its priorities. To do so, there may be new initiatives in the coming years to increase access and affordability at vocational schools in North Dakota.
For students, it means now might be the right time to pursue a technical education. Doing so could result in an exciting new career in one of the state's growing industries. Already, 98 percent of graduates with a CTE credential move into employment, military service or apprenticeship positions within six months of completing their program, according to Advance CTE.
Highest-Paying and Fastest-Growing Careers in North Dakota
Financial Aid for Vocational Students in North Dakota
North Dakota CTE and degree programs can cost less than $5,000 per year at public, two-year colleges. While that is an affordable tuition rate compared to many universities and private colleges, it can still represent a significant expense to students. Fortunately, North Dakota scholarships and grants are available to lower out-of-pocket costs.
The state Legislature budgeted $660.5 million from the general fund for higher education in 2019-2021. That money includes general assistance for public colleges and universities as well as funding for specific initiatives such as grant programs. For instance, $10.7 million was earmarked for the Healthcare Workforce Initiative which supports the education of both medical and health sciences students.
To apply for financial aid in North Dakota, start by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Commonly called the FAFSA, this form is used by many trade schools in North Dakota to determine financial aid awards. You can learn more about how to apply for financial aid in North Dakota by reviewing our financial aid guide.
Depending on their situation North Dakota CTE students may be eligible for one or more of the following:
- North Dakota State Student Incentive Grant Program: First-time undergraduate students at qualifying public, private or tribal institutions may receive up to $1,100 per semester through this grant program.
- ND Career & Technical Education Scholarship: With a total value of up to $6,000, this merit-based scholarship goes to high school graduates who enroll in programs at approved public, private and tribal institutions.
- Skilled Workforce Scholarship and Student Loan Repayment Program: This new program is intended to encourage students to pursue high-demand and emerging occupations in the state. The amount and availability of scholarships varies by institution.
Resources for Vocational Students and Job Seekers in North Dakota
Learn more about technical schools in North Dakota through these resources:
- Regional accreditation for public, private and vocational schools in North Dakota is provided by the Higher Learning Commission.
- The North Dakota University System oversees both public four-year and two-year schools in the state.
- Job Service North Dakota has resources for workers including information on apprenticeships and other training opportunities.