Training from career and technical schools in West Virginia can prepare you for a wide range of skilled labor careers. The roots of the energy and manufacturing industries run deep in the Mountain State, and other top sectors like information technology, agriculture and automotive technology each offer entry-level jobs for trade school graduates.
Combining your trade school training with a targeted job search in the right city can make it even more likely that you find the type of job you're looking for. The area around Huntington offers above-average salaries for automotive technicians, for example, and Charleston was one of the ten highest-paying cities in the country for welding, soldering and other metalwork jobs.
Why is West Virginia Good for Vocational/Career Schools?
There are two main reasons that students in West Virginia might consider career technical education (CTE) when planning their career path. It's typically a faster route to the workforce, for one, with many trade school certificates taking less than a year from enrollment to graduation and diploma or associate degree plans rarely taking more than two years of full-time study to complete.
West Virginia CTE certification also tends to cost substantially less than the four-year study plans in most university programs. The average cost of a year of tuition and fees at West Virginia universities topped $7,600 in 2018, but programs at public trade schools and community colleges charged an average of just over $4,000.
In order to help you make an informed decision about where to train for your career, we collected data from the U.S. Department of Education and ranked the best trade and vocational schools from top to bottom. Read on to the end of the page for some tips on how to apply for financial aid in West Virginia and some info about a few top West Virginia scholarships.
Highest-Paying and Fastest-Growing Careers in West Virginia
How to Apply for Trade School Financial Aid in West Virginia
Even if you choose an affordable school and organize your program in a way that makes sense for your budget, the cost of college-level training can still seem like a lot to handle. Thanks to financial aid programs at the federal, state and individual school level, however, you may be able to get some help dealing with the sticker price of your trade school program.
The first thing to know about trade school financial aid is that there's one document that functions as a kind of skeleton key to dozens (and maybe hundreds) of potential sources of aid. The Free Application for Student Aid, or FAFSA, collects information about your student status and your personal financial situation and uses it to determine your eligibility for a wide variety of aid programs.
Filling out your FAFSA is the only way to qualify for federal aid from programs like the Pell Grant, and many West Virginia scholarships and institution-based grants also require that you have a FAFSA on file in order to qualify. Take a look at our financial aid guide for more detail on the FAFSA and other important financial aid concepts.
Here's a list of West Virginia scholarships and other state-based aid options to look into while you're budgeting for your training program:
- WV Invests Grant - This state-funded program aims to cover the cost of tuition and fees for select degree and certificate programs, particularly those in high-demand job fields in the state.
- West Virginia PROMISE Scholarship - Graduates of West Virginia high schools with a GPA of 3.0 or higher can apply to be awarded up to $4,750 toward tuition and fees at public colleges or recognized independent institutions.
- Learn and Earn - This program, similar to work-study or apprenticeship, provides students with a part-time, entry-level, wage-earning job in their field of study.
Resources for Vocational Students and Vocational Job Seekers in West Virginia
- The West Virginia Community and Technical College System website has loads of information about trade school training and career education in the state.
- Students looking for help in planning their education and career journey can check out the College Foundation of West Virginia, which offers guidance and advice for students in high school and beyond.
- It's important to make sure that your training comes from an accredited school, meaning that an outside agency has evaluated the program provided and found it to meet an accepted national standard. The Higher Learning Commission accredits public institutions in West Virginia, while private trade schools are typically accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges.
Vocational training info portal Advance CTE also has a page where you can get some raw data on the difference that career and technical education can make to West Virginia students. For more information about the large-scale benefits of career training, check out the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE).