Why Choose Trade School?
Trade schools in Illinois provide career-focused training in areas like allied health, the skilled trades, and technology. Trade school graduates can work as respiratory therapists, radiation technicians, and occupational therapy assistants. They can also pursue careers as mechanics, electricians, paralegals, and cosmetologists.
Vocational programs combine classroom learning with hands-on experiences through practicum, lab, and clinical requirements. For example, students in paramedic programs strengthen their skills through experiential learning in hospitals and ambulances.
Vocational programs offer several benefits over four-year academic programs. Earning a vocational certificate or degree generally takes 1-2 years, meaning students can enter the workforce faster than students at four-year programs. Additionally, professionals with an occupational credential benefit from a higher employment rate than those with an academic credential, according to the National Center for Education Statistics .
This page ranks the top vocational schools in Illinois to help students identify the best vocational program for their needs and goals. It also introduces career and salary data for trade school occupations and scholarship opportunities for Illinois trade school students.
Trade School FAQ's
Can I get financial aid for trade school?Yes. Students at trade schools can receive loans, grants, scholarships, and other forms of financial aid.
Can trade school credits transfer?Yes. Credits earned at trade schools often transfer to other schools. However, many schools only accept credits from accredited institutions.
What is the difference between trade school and technical school?Trade schools and technical schools are essentially the same, providing career training in areas like healthcare, the skilled trades, and legal services.
What is the highest paid trade?Many trade school jobs offer above-average salaries, including roles like dental hygienist, respiratory therapist, construction manager, and plumber. Prospective students can look up earnings by industry to learn more.
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Accreditation and Licensing for Trade Schools
Prospective trade school students should always check a school's accreditation and licensing status before applying. Accredited schools meet high standards for educating students. To earn accreditation, schools must undergo a rigorous review from an independent accrediting agency. During the review, the accrediting agency evaluates the school's student learning outcomes, faculty qualifications, and academic mission. Accredited schools must regularly repeat the process to maintain their status.
Accreditation benefits students in several ways. For example, only students at accredited schools qualify for federal financial aid, and many schools only accept degrees and transfer credits from accredited institutions. Additionally, many professional licenses and certifications require an accredited degree.
Schools that offer vocational certificates and degrees may hold regional or national accreditation. Community colleges and four-year universities typically hold regional accreditation. The Higher Learning Commission grants regional accreditation to colleges and universities in Illinois.
Vocational and trade schools often hold national accreditation from specialized agencies like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC). Approved by the Department of Education, ACCSC accredits over 650 trade and technical schools nationwide. Other accrediting agencies include the Distance Education Accrediting Commission , which grants accreditation to online schools. Learn more about the accreditation process here .
In addition to accreditation, postsecondary schools must also hold a license from the state. In Illinois, the Board of Higher Education licenses schools that offer vocational programs.
Vocational Trade Schools in Illinois
Trade schools in Illinois provide career-focused training in many in-demand areas. By choosing a top-ranked vocational program, students can advance their education and increase their earning potential. Our list ranks the best vocational schools in Illinois to help prospective students find the right fit for their goals and interests.
Find Vocational and Trade Schools in Illinois
Illinois students can pursue a variety of career and technical education programs. Use this search tool to find accredited vocational and trade schools in Illinois.
Career and Salary Outlook for Trade School Graduates
Salaries for trade school occupations vary depending on the industry, location, and experience, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that technical and trade school occupations pay an average salary of $55,000 per year.
Personal care and service occupations offer around $33,000 per year, on average, while management occupations pay over $96,000 annually. Meanwhile, healthcare practitioner and technical occupations offer an average salary of $55,000.
Location also impacts salary. In Illinois, occupational wage data shows that radiation therapists earn over $84,000 per year, on average, and paralegals make nearly $60,000 per year.
Trade school graduates often benefit from strong demand. For example, the BLS reports much faster-than-average job growth for dental hygienists , paralegals , and HVAC technicians between 2018 and 2028.
What Kinds of Trade School Programs Are Available?
Vocational and tech schools in Illinois offer programs in many high-demand areas, such as allied health, the skilled trades, and technology. This section introduces popular trade school programs. In addition to these options, students can research programs for other trade school jobs, like HVAC technician, cosmetologist, and occupational therapy assistant.
Dental Hygienist Schools
Radiology Technician Schools
Financial Aid for Trade School Students
Trade school students can pursue financial aid opportunities to help offset the cost of their education, such as loans, scholarships, and grants. To receive federal financial aid, students must submit the FAFSA every year. However, only students at accredited institutions qualify for federal financial aid programs.
Choosing an affordable trade school can also help lower the cost of a vocational certificate or degree. Illinois public universities charge nearly $14,000 per year in tuition and fees, on average, while private universities cost over $32,000 per year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics . In contrast, Illinois community colleges cost under $4,000 per year.
Unlike loans, scholarships and grants do not require repayment, making them ideal forms of financial aid. The next section introduces scholarship opportunities for trade school students.
Scholarship for Trade School Students
Students attending trade and vocational schools in Illinois can take advantage of many scholarship opportunities. Private foundations, government agencies, and professional organizations all offer scholarships for students pursuing a vocational certificate or degree. In addition to the following scholarships, students can research opportunities based on their field or school.