Career and technical schools in Washington are a big part of the state's skilled labor force. Training programs at the state's two-year institutions cover 75 percent of the key industries identified by the State of Washington Department of Commerce, and fields like green energy and information technology feature some of the fastest-growing jobs in the state.
Students in specific trade school programs may have even more opportunity in certain cities or metro areas in the state. Aspiring plumbers, carpenters and construction managers should be in high demand throughout the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett metropolitan area, which ranked No. 2 on the Forbes list of fastest-growing U.S. cities in 2018, and AMN Healthcare named Seattle among the top ten cities for nursing jobs in a recent survey.
Why is Washington Good for Vocational/Career Schools?
Thanks to the surge in emerging technologies across nearly all employment sectors, thousands of new jobs for candidates with specialized career technical education (CTE) degrees have come onto the job market in the last several years. At this point, earning the right CTE certification in Washington can carry about as much employment upside as earning a bachelor's degree while taking half the number of credits (or less) to complete.
Students seem to be catching on to the value of an education from the best vocational schools in Washington, also; associate degrees made up more than half of all college credentials awarded in the state in 2017. What's more, U.S. Department of Education data shows that students seeking CTE certification in Washington graduate at a nearly 100 percent rate.
This page is a one-stop shop for Washington students considering a vocational degree or certificate in the state. We've compiled a list of the best trade schools in Washington to help you narrow down your decision, and you'll find some basic info toward the bottom of the page about how to apply for financial aid in Washington.
Highest-Paying and Fastest-Growing Careers in Washington
Trade School Financial Aid in Washington
Student loans and other financial aid programs are widely known to be a major factor in university education, but not everyone is aware of the wide range of aid options available in associate degree and certificate programs. Aspiring trade school students can seek out grants, scholarships and other assistance in the same way that university students do.
The first step toward qualifying for financial aid in Washington is filling out a form called the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Also known as the FAFSA, this document serves as a baseline source of financial information for aid agencies at every level, from federal government programs to state-based initiatives and school-specific Washington scholarships and grants. Check out our financial aid guide to learn more about the FAFSA and other common elements of the financial aid process.
Here's a short list of aid programs available to eligible Washington trade school students:
- Washington College Grant - This long-standing state program was given a new name and an increased maximum award for 2019. Trade school students with significant financial need may receive up to roughly $3,700 in annual aid through the WCG.
- Opportunity Grant - Washington residents with a 2.0 GPA or higher can apply for aid through this program, which provides up to one year of funding for students seeking certificates in high-wage, high-demand careers.
- Passport to College - A maximum of $4,500 per year in scholarship funding and access to additional college support services are available to eligible Washington students who have been in foster care programs past the age of 15.
Initiatives for Vocational School Students in Washington
State legislators and policymakers work hard to ensure that career and technical schools in Washington have the resources they need to provide top-quality training to their students. Here's a rundown of some of the initiatives currently in place:
- The Job Skills Program (JSP) Grant, administered by the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, provides matching funds for programs designed to address specific training needs for existing businesses.
- The Hospital Employee Education and Training (HEET) Granthelps community and technical colleges develop training programs in collaboration with healthcare employers in the state.
Washington policies that benefit vocational students
- The Workforce Development Fund sets aside roughly $1.5 million in funding to help vocational schools in Washington develop or expand training programs that contribute to the development of the state's skilled workforce.
- The Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board is a partnership organization between business, labor and government that works to help Washington residents establish well-paying careers while filling skilled employment gaps for regional companies.
Resources for Vocational Students and Vocational Job Seekers in Washington
- The Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) offers a wide range of insight into two-year schools in the state, lists details about state financial aid programs and provides career guidance for Washington residents.
- A wealth of information and guidance is also available through Washington's Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board, whether you're a high school student, a recent graduate or an adult looking to make some moves on the job market.
- It's always a good idea to make sure the trade school you choose has earned accreditation. Public two-year institutions in Washington are accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), and their individual programs are typically accredited by industry groups such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
For more information on trade and vocational schools in Washington, take a look at the state's data page on Advance CTE. If you're curious about how CTE programs are conducted nationwide, the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) has got plenty of great info.