Trade Schools in South Dakota

Written ByRWM Editors
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South Dakota residents looking to land a stable job have a range of top industries to choose from. Manufacturing, agriculture, bioscience, cybersecurity and more are listed by the South Dakota Governor's Office of Economic Development as key sectors of the state's economy, and each of them offer entry-level positions for job candidates with the right training.

Certain training programs can add even more value to your job search in the right part of the state. Graduates with mining, construction or education training should be in high demand in the area around Sioux Falls, where those industries showed significant growth between October 2018 and October 2019. In the Rapid City region, Trained medical assistants can earn around $1,500 per year more than the state average.

Why is South Dakota Good for Vocational/Career Schools?

Programs that provide career technical education (CTE) training offer a few benefits that bachelor's degree programs at the university level can't match. One main advantage is the annual cost of tuition for South Dakota CTE programs — students at career and technical schools in South Dakota paid a little more than $6,000 for a year of tuition, while university students paid over $8,500.

South Dakota CTE programs also tend to take substantially less time to complete than four-year university degrees. Two years of full-time study is all it takes to earn associate degree, which represents the most comprehensive career training available at this level. Several certificate plans at the best trade and vocational schools in South Dakota can be completed in a year or less.

We've got a list of the top campus-based and online trade schools in South Dakota that can help you decide which institution might be right for you. Read on to the bottom of the page to learn about scholarships and grants available to state residents and get some tips on how to apply for financial aid in South Dakota.

Highest-Paying and Fastest-Growing Careers in South Dakota

Source: 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2018-28 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics,
Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2018-19, National Center for Education Statistics,

How to Apply for Trade School Financial Aid in South Dakota

Financial aid can make a big difference in the affordability of a college-level training program, and eligible students may qualify for dozens of South Dakota scholarships and grants that can help take some of the weight of tuition and fees off their shoulders. If you're not sure how to apply for financial aid in South Dakota, there's one document that you'll want to know about before anything else.

Known formally as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, the FAFSA is your key to a range of valuable federal aid programs like low-interest Stafford Loans and Pell Grant awards that don't need to be paid back. State-based South Dakota scholarships and other aid programs also typically require that applicants have a FAFSA on file, so be sure to fill yours out and turn it in as soon as possible.

You can check out our comprehensive financial aid guide for more information on the FAFSA and some general tips about how to apply for financial aid in South Dakota. Here's a quick description of a few of the South Dakota scholarships, grants and other aid programs that you might qualify for:

  • Build Dakota Scholarship - This program offers full-ride scholarships to eligible students in high-demand career programs who commit to living and working in South Dakota for three years after graduation.
  • Hagen-Harvey Scholarship - Enrolled members of American Indian tribes can qualify for up to four years of college funding, with a minimum of $1,000 for the first two years.
  • South Dakota Opportunity Scholarship - Graduates of South Dakota high schools with strong academic records may qualify for $1,300 per year in financial assistance at the state's trade schools.

Resources for Vocational Students and Job Seekers in South Dakota

  • Learn about the finer points of CTE in South Dakota at the career and technical education section of the South Dakota Department of Education site.
  • Find out about the ways in which your trade school training can be used to give you a head start on advanced education at the articulation page of the South Dakota Board of Regents.
  • Accreditation is a process by which the training offered at an institution is certified as meeting the standards of industry leaders and academic watchdog groups. Public technical schools in South Dakota earn their accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission, while individual career programs may be accredited by national groups like the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and the American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP).

The South Dakota page at Advance CTE can provide some hard data about the impact that South Dakota CTE programs have been having on student success. Also check out the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) to learn about CTE policies and initiatives in your state and around the country.

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