A four-year degree isn't the only path to a good job. Trade schools in Ohio offer certificates, career diplomas and associate degrees that can have you ready for an in-demand career in a matter of months, not years. Many of the state's largest industries -- such as manufacturing, health care and transportation -- require workers who have some post-high school training but not a bachelor's degree.
Health information technicians, aircraft mechanics, diagnostic medical sonographers and human resources assistants are a few of the in-demand occupations in Ohio that don't require a four-year degree, according to state government data. With major medical centers scattered throughout the state, such as Cleveland Clinic in the north and Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center to the south, nursing assistants and licensed practical nurses are in demand statewide. Other careers may be focused in specific regions.
For instance, paralegals and legal assistants are expected to see strong job growth in central Ohio where the state capital of Columbus is located. In the more rural southeast corner of the state, construction workers, truck drivers and electricians are in greater demand.
Why is Ohio Good for Vocational Schools?
The time is right for students to pursue an education at technical schools in Ohio. Overall, 55% of jobs in the state required so-called middle skills in 2015. That means they required some postsecondary training such as a certificate or career diploma but not a four-year degree. However, only 47 percent of workers have these skills, according to the National Skills Coalition.
Team Northeast Ohio, commonly known as Team NEO, had similar findings in its 2018 report Aligning Opportunities in Northeast Ohio. The economic development group found a 34 percent gap in the number of residents statewide who would be able to fill jobs requiring some postsecondary credential by 2020.
To prepare residents for these jobs, the state offers career-technical education at all its public high schools. There are also 54 Ohio Technical Centers at locations across the state. These provide education to adult learners and include diverse programs, from police academies to HVAC trade schools in Ohio.
Highest-Paying and Fastest-Growing Careers
Financial Aid for Vocational Students in Ohio
If you're looking for an affordable education, trade schools are a smart choice. Many of the best trade schools in Ohio feature low tuition rates. What's more, by studying online or close to home, you can reduce or eliminate housing and transportation costs.
However, if you still need help paying for your degree or certificate, Ohio college scholarships and grants are available. And funding for those programs may be growing. The state's 2019 executive budget recommendations included an additional $47 million for need-based aid and $15 million to train or retrain workers for in-demand fields.
While funding and programs can change from year to year, Ohio education grants are awarded based on information provided in the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Ohio state scholarships may also use this information when making decisions. Our financial aid guide has more information about the FAFSA and how to apply for financial aid in Ohio. Once you've submitted the FAFSA, you may be eligible for the following:
- Ohio College Opportunity Grant (OCOG): These grants are available to those seeking an associate degree, bachelor's degree or nursing diploma at an eligible institution. For 2019, students must have an expected family contribution of $2,190 or less on their FAFSA and a maximum family income of $96,000.
- Choose Ohio First (TPEG): Choose Ohio First provides scholarships for undergraduates in Ohio who are pursuing in an education in the STEMM fields of science, technology, engineering, math and medicine.
- Financial Aid for Veterans: There are several scholarships in Ohio specifically for veterans and their families. These include the Ohio War Orphans Scholarship, Ohio Safety Officers Memorial Fund and Ohio National Guard Scholarship Program.
Initiatives for Vocational School Students in Ohio
Within Ohio, there are a number of initiatives to ensure students are able to gain the skills needed for the state's in-demand jobs, inlcuding the following:
- Through the College Credit Plus program, high school students can receive college credit for their classes. Many of the best vocational schools in Ohio participate in the program, and the Ohio Department of Higher Education estimates it has saved state families more than $416 million in tuition.
- Students can also save time and money with Apprenticeship Pathways. These are offered in conjunction with skilled trades groups who work in the areas of electrical trades, sheet metal, carpentry and plumbing.
Ohio policies that benefit vocational students
- The government wants to make it easy for residents to pursue in-demand careers so they created OhioMeansJobs<. The website is a one-stop shop for all the information you need to make a smart career decision. It includes comprehensive information on career pathways, Ohio state scholarships and more.
- Normally, you'd have to live in Ohio for at least 12 months to be considered a resident and eligible for in-state tuition rates. However, thanks to the Forever Buckeyes policy, Ohio high school graduates who left the state and later return are immediately eligible for resident tuition rates.
School-specific program initiatives in Ohio
- Trade schools in Ohio may also offer reduced rates to select students thanks to tuition waivers. These waivers are granted on a school-by-school basis, and each school has different criteria. For instance, North Central State College waives standard tuition rates for recipients of its Tuition Freedom Scholarship. At Cuyahoga Community College, tuition waivers are granted to students displaced from their homes because of a natural disaster. Other schools have different waivers and eligibility requirements.
- Through Apprentice Ohio some vocational schools in Ohio partner with employers to provide paid apprenticeships to students. In addition to apprenticeships in skilled trades such as carpentry and masonry, opportunities are available for a variety of other occupations including dental assistants, jewelers and computer programmers.
Resources for Vocational Students and Vocational Job Seekers in Ohio
Ready to learn more about Ohio CTE certification and education? Then check out these resources:
- The Ohio Department of Higher Education oversees career and technical schools in Ohio. You can learn more about career pathways, financial aid in Ohio and other topics on their website.
- As one of the most comprehensive websites for Ohio job seekers, OhioMeansJobs deserves another mention. Research careers, find a school and practice interview skills all in one place.
- For facts and figures about career and technical education in Ohio, visit the website of the non-profit Advance CTE.