Jobs for trade school graduates are on the rise all over the country, and the Palmetto State is no exception. The South Carolina Department of Commerce lists the advanced manufacturing, aerospace, advanced materials and automotive industries among the state's main economic sectors, and each one of those fields contains a range of vocational jobs at the entry level and beyond.
Matching your career goals to the right city or metro area can make your job outlook even brighter. The Charleston area is a hot ticket for registered nurses, for example, boasting an average annual wage that's around 15 percent higher than the statewide average. The state capital of Columbia, with its nearly 5 percent growth in manufacturing jobs from 2018 to 2019, could be a great place for machinists, CNC techs and similar workers.
Why is South Carolina Good for Vocational/Technical Schools?
If you're more interested in furthering your career than getting a complete academic education, technical schools in South Carolina are probably a better fit for you than four-year colleges and universities. Career technical education (CTE) programs at two-year institutions typically take less time to complete, and attending a community college or technical school can help you save an average of more than $7,000 on your annual tuition bill.
Another advantage of attending a vocational school to earn your CTE certification in South Carolina is the variety of career-focused programs available. College and university catalogs may offer a few vocational study plans, but member schools of the South Carolina Technical College System often work to provide dozens of job training options both online and on campus.
Anyone considering a training program at campus-based or online trade schools in South Carolina should check out our list of the state's top career schools below. After the list, we've got some helpful information about how to apply for financial aid in South Carolina and a list of state initiatives designed to help vocational students succeed.
Highest-Paying and Fastest-Growing Careers in South Carolina
How to Apply for Trade School Financial Aid in South Carolina
Even though trade school programs are generally far less expensive than university degrees, finding room in your budget for the cost of training isn't always an easy task. Fortunately, there are dozens of South Carolina scholarships, grants and other student aid programs that can help take some of the sting out of your tuition bill each semester.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is probably the most important document in the financial aid process. You'll need a completed FAFSA to qualify for any available federal aid, for one thing, and most grant and scholarship programs at the state and institutional level also make use of the FAFSA as part of their application process. We've got more information about the FAFSA and other important student aid concepts in the financial aid guide we prepared to help students better understand their options.
Here are just a few of the South Carolina scholarships that may be able to help you get the training you need:
- South Carolina Workforce Industry Needs Scholarship (SC WINS)- Fully enrolled college students as well as those dual-enrolled at state high schools may be eligible for assistance through SC WINS, which provides up to $600 in funding per semester.
- Lottery Tuition Assistance- South Carolina residents who take at least six credit hours per semester can qualify for this aid program, which awards part-time students up to $95 per credit hour and $1,140 per term to full-time students.
- Legislative Incentive for Future Excellence (LIFE)- This merit-based scholarship provides an award that covers the cost of tuition up to $5,000 at state technical schools and includes a $300 textbook allowance.
Initiatives for Students in South Carolina Trade Schools
South Carolina legislators and policymakers understand the value of a skilled workforce. Take a look at this list of initiatives put into place by government and college system officials to help trade school students get trained and find work:
Funding for vocational students in South Carolina
- The South Carolina Tuition Tax Credit is an initiative designed to ease some of the cost burden on students and their families by providing income tax credit for tuition paid at South Carolina colleges.
- The Workforce Pathways Scholarship provides tuition assistance for students in eligible programs at South Carolina Technical College System schools.
South Carolina policies that benefit vocational students
- Apprenticeship Carolina works to provide employers with assistance in creating registered apprenticeship programs that allow students to earn while they learn.
- A workforce training initiative called readySC aims to provide a range of services to companies looking to relocate or expand in the state, helping create more positions for skilled workers.
School-specific program initiatives in South Carolina
- Williamsburg Technical College features the William H. Chandler Memorial Scholarship, which awards up to $1,000 over the course of an academic year to a student with a GPA over 2.0.
- Students enrolled in construction-related programs at Northeastern Technical College may qualify for the $1,000 FBi Construction Scholarship, which requires a 2.5 GPA and demonstrated financial need.
Resources for Vocational Students and Vocational Job Seekers in South Carolina
- The website of the SC Technical College System is a great place to learn more about the best trade and vocational schools in South Carolina.
- Once you're ready to look for work, SC Works can help. The statewide initiative provides job seekers with access to job postings, labor market information and other assistance.
- There are two types of accreditation to look for at career schools in South Carolina. Institutional accreditation is provided by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), and accreditation for specific programs comes from industry groups like the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the National Association for Education of Young Children (NAEYC).
The career technical education portal Advance CTE also features some interesting info on career and technical schools in South Carolina. For more broad-based information about CTE, check out the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE).