Why Choose Trade School?
Trade schools in Washington provide career-focused training in high-demand fields such as healthcare, legal services, and emergency services. Learners can earn vocational certificates and degrees to prepare for careers as paramedics, medical assistants, occupational therapy assistants, and dental hygienists. Trade school graduates can also work as electricians, HVAC technicians, paralegals, cosmetologists, and mechanics.
Trade schools offer several benefits over four-year academic programs. Earning a vocational certificate or degree generally takes 1-2 years, allowing learners to enter the workforce more quickly. Vocational programs often cost less than academic degrees. According to the National Center for Education Statistics , in 2009, professionals with an occupational credential had a 4% higher employment rate than professionals with an academic degree.
Many vocational schools offer self-paced or accelerated programs to accommodate busy schedules. A growing number of schools also offer online vocational programs, which can be ideal for working professionals.
This page introduces the top-ranked vocational schools in Washington to help prospective students find the best fit for their career goals. The following sections also include employment and salary data, descriptions of popular vocational programs, and a list of scholarship opportunities for learners at trade schools in Washington.
FAQ About Trade Schools in Washington
What is the difference between a trade school and a college?
Trade schools train students for specific career paths, generally with programs that blend classroom and experiential learning. Many colleges offer both academic programs and vocational programs.
Can trade school credits transfer?
Yes. Credits earned at a trade school can transfer to other institutions. Credits earned from a regionally accredited school are the most likely to transfer.
What is the difference between trade school and technical school?
Both trade and technical schools offer career-focused programs in areas such as allied healthcare, the skilled trades, and STEM fields. Vocational programs at both types of institutions provide classroom instruction and hands-on training.
How much does a trade school cost?
The cost of trade school varies by program. Many trade schools in Washington offer vocational certificate and degree programs that cost less than $4,000 per year, including tuition and fees.
Accreditation and Licensing for Trade Schools
Students should check each prospective trade school's accreditation status before applying. Accreditation demonstrates that the institution delivers high-quality educational programs that prepare students to enter the workforce.
To earn accreditation, colleges and universities undergo a rigorous review process by an independent accrediting agency. During the review, the agency evaluates the school's student learning outcomes, academic mission, and faculty qualifications. Accredited schools must undergo regular evaluations to maintain their status.
Credits earned from an accredited school are more likely to transfer to other institutions, and many professional licenses and certifications require candidates to hold credentials from an accredited school. Additionally, only learners at accredited institutions can qualify for federal financial aid.
U.S. schools can hold regional or national accreditation. Community colleges and four-year universities typically obtain regional accreditation. The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities grants regional accreditation to Washington institutions.
Trade and vocational schools in Washington often hold national accreditation from specialized agencies, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC). Approved by the Department of Education, ACCSC accredits more than 650 trade and technical colleges. Similarly, the Distance Education Accrediting Commission grants accreditation to online schools. This resource provides more information about the accreditation process .
Postsecondary institutions in Washington must also hold a license from the Washington Student Achievement Council .
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Vocational Trade Schools in Washingotn
Trade schools in Washington provide focused training that prepares students for specific career paths. By attending a top-ranked vocational program, students can advance their education and increase their earning potential. The ranking below includes the best vocational schools in Washington.
Spokane Community CollegeLocation
When Spokane Community College opened in 1963, 1,298 students enrolled during the school's initial year. Now one of the largest community colleges in Washington, SCC admits over 20,000 students each year and offers more than 120 programs of study across eight academic disciplines. Students can work for an associate degree or occupational credential in healthcare, public services, building trades, and business, among others.
SCC offers a bachelor of applied science in respiratory care, a four-year program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care. Completing the program qualifies students to sit for professional certifications in the field. This trade school in Washington currently maintains 18 apprenticeship programs in diverse professional arenas including elevator construction mechanics, electrical, plumbing, and cement masonry.
Students who plan to pursue a bachelor's degree at Eastern Washington University (EWU) after completing an associate degree can participate in SCC's Destination Eastern program. Advisors from both schools work closely with program participants to make sure they stay on track from the day they enroll at SCC and graduate from EWU.
Spokane Falls Community CollegeLocation
Starting out in 1967 as part of Spokane Community College, SFCC became a separate institution in 1970 and today enrolls about 5,000 students annually. Students can pursue a degree or certificate in six areas of study, including education, social, and behavioral sciences; health; and visual, performing, and applied arts.
SFCC offers a bachelor in applied science in three fields: information systems and technology, applied management, and cybersecurity. Applicants must hold an associate degree in the field or a closely related professional area. Applicants without an associate degree can request evaluation of their professional experience, prior training, or military background for admission and college credit.
Students looking for workplace training options can explore SFCC's apprenticeship programs. The college currently offers apprenticeships in aerospace, ironworks, bricklaying, and heat and frost insulation. Requirements for admission to apprenticeship programs vary, so applicants need to determine their eligibility.
Founded in 1946 and currently comprising three campuses, Olympic College enrolls an average of 13,000 students each year. Students can select from over 150 programs in diverse fields, including atmospheric science, elementary education, office administration and technology, and public service.
Olympic College offers a bachelor in applied science in organizational leadership and technical management, digital filmmaking, and information systems. Associate-trained registered nurses can enroll in the RN-to-BSN program which is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The college maintains a partnership with three universities (Old Dominion, Washington State, and Western Washington) that allow associate degree-holders to complete a bachelor's program in an Olympic College campus.
Collaborating with the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard (PSNS) and the Naval Intermediate Maintenance Facility (IMF), Olympic College offers an apprenticeship in industrial trades technology. The program currently accepts applications only from federal employees of PSNS and IMF. Applicants must meet the admission requirements of the program and Olympic College.
Edmonds Community CollegeLocation
Established in 1967, Edmonds College currently enrolls about 10,300 students each quarter and offers more than 120 programs across 12 academic areas of study. Students can pursue an associate degree or occupational credential in fields like environmental science and horticulture, human services and behavioral health, and engineering and manufacturing.
Edmonds College offers a bachelor of applied science in child, youth, and family studies. The program comprises 180 quarter credits, follows a cohort model of education, and includes online and on-campus coursework. Applicants must show completion of an associate degree for transfer in one of the following fields: addiction studies, early childhood education, family support studies, or human services.
The college also offers a Certified Safety Specialist Apprenticeship Program. Students who complete the program earn college credits applicable toward an associate in occupational safety and health from Edmonds College. Graduates also earn a journey level certificate from the state. Many of the courses for this program are available online.
Bates Technical CollegeLocation
Starting out in 1940 holding classes in the basement of an elementary school, Bates Technical College now comprises three campuses in Tacoma, Washington. Bates currently enrolls over 7,000 students annually. Students can pursue an associate degree or occupational certificate in diverse fields including business, finance, and personal services; advanced manufacturing; education and human services; and engineering technology.
Bates currently offers state-approved apprenticeship training programs in nine occupational areas, including welding, sheet metal technology, aviation, and construction trades. Program lengths vary from one to five years, and graduates earn a journeyman-level certificate upon completion. Apprentices can also earn an associate in apprenticeship studies from Bates.
The college maintains direct transfer agreements with several four-year institutions in the region. These agreements facilitate the transfer process for graduates who plan to pursue a bachelor's degree after completing their program at Bates. Transfer advisors work with students in course and major selection, identifying internship and workplace training opportunities, and fulfilling the admission requirements of receiving schools.
Seattle Central CollegeLocation
Seattle Central officially opened in 1966 as the first community college in the Emerald City. Even without a permanent home and holding classes in buildings scattered throughout the Seattle School District, the college enrolled more than 14,000 students during its initial year of operation. Seattle Central offers bachelor's and associate degrees, career certificates, and workplace training programs.
The college is one of an increasing number of community colleges in Washington that offer four-year bachelor's programs. The bachelor of applied science (BAS) incorporates more hands-on learning opportunities for students and focuses on specific occupational arenas. Seattle Central's BAS programs follows a 2+2 structure; that is, it builds on a completed two-year associate degree by adding two more years of coursework and training in the same or similar field.
Along with several other schools in the region, Seattle Central participates in the Partnership for Advanced Technology Apprenticeships in Manufacturing and Marine Engineering project (PATNAM). Funded by $4.8 million from the U.S. Department of Labor, PATNAM partner schools commit to provide apprenticeship programs in advanced manufacturing and maritime industry.
Grays Harbor CollegeLocation
Founded in 1930 and comprising three campuses serving a two-county region, Grays Harbor College currently enrolls close to 7,000 students annually. The college currently offers nine associate degrees for transfer, 15 professional or technical degrees, 13 certificates, and three bachelor's programs. Fields of study include aerospace and advanced manufacturing, trade and technology, business support, and healthcare and nursing.
Students can pursue a bachelor of applied science (BAS) in three areas: organizational management, forest resources management, and teacher education. Applicants to any of these programs must show proof of completion of an associate degree from an accredited institution. The BAS in teacher education leads to K-8 certification. Additionally, students typically qualify for graduate-level studies in the field after completing the program.
GHC holds membership in the Washington Technology Industry Association. The membership gives GHC students access to nationwide apprenticeship programs in engineering, IT, and technology. Many of the apprenticeships focus on providing opportunities to students from traditionally underrepresented groups including minorities, veterans, and women.
Green River CollegeLocation
Moving to its current location in Lea Hill one year after it opened in 1964, Green River College comprises 180 acres of forested land in Auburn, Washington. The college enrolls more than 8,400 students and offers certificate, associate, and bachelor's programs in 16 different fields.
Students can pursue a bachelor of applied science in eight areas, including forest resource management, software development, marketing and entrepreneurship, and aeronautical science. Green River maintains direct transfer agreements with several four-year institutions in the region and throughout the state. Students who complete degrees covered by these agreements experience a smoother transition to senior colleges and universities. The college offers over 100 occupational certificates in fields such as aerospace and advanced manufacturing, court reporting and captioning, forensic technology, and carpentry.
Along with several other community and technical colleges in the state, Green River participates in a reading apprenticeship program that aims to improve students' reading comprehension.
Des Moines, WATuition
Highline opened in 1961 as the first community college in King County. The college enrolled 385 students and held classes in portable classrooms on the grounds of a local high school. Today, Highline College enrolls over 16,600 students each year and sits on 80 hilltop acres on Puget Sound. The college offers more than 100 degree and certificate programs across six educational pathways including art and communication, business, STEM, and health and wellness.
Highline offers bachelor of applied science (BAS) degrees in cybersecurity and forensics, respiratory care, global trade and logistics, youth development, and teaching and early learning. Highline's BAS degrees transfer directly to master's programs at Western Governors University. The college recently added BAS programs in integrated design and teaching.
The dispensing optician apprenticeship at Highline qualifies graduates to sit for the Washington State Optician Board Examination. The program comprises 45 quarter credits, and students enroll in one online course per quarter. Graduates earn a certificate in the field after completing the program.
South Seattle CollegeLocation
Established in 1969, South Seattle College currently serves a population of over 15,000 students in its West Seattle and Georgetown campuses. South offers associate degrees for transfer, occupational certificates, and bachelor's programs across eight areas of study.
Students can pursue a bachelor of applied science (BAS) in hospitality management or sustainable building science technology. BAS programs at the college require applicants to have an associate degree and related work experience. South offers associate degrees for transfer in fields including nutrition science, public health, business, and environmental studies.
The Georgetown campus serves as the apprenticeship and education center of South Seattle College. Students can explore apprenticeship programs in several fields, including aerospace, construction trades, masonry, and ironworks. The college awards the appropriate certificate to apprentices who complete their program. Graduates can build on certificate credits to earn an associate in applied science degree for transfer by enrolling in a few additional courses.
Lake Washington Institute of TechnologyLocation
Located in Kirkland just east of Seattle, LWTech (founded 1949) currently enrolls more than 6,300 students. It holds the distinction of being the only public institute of technology in the Evergreen State. LWTech comprises seven schools and offers associate degrees for transfer, bachelor's programs, and professional certificates in more than 41 areas of study.
Direct Transfer Agreements (DTA) between LWTech and several four-year institutions facilitate the transfer process for graduates who wish to pursue a bachelor's in a participating college or university. Programs covered by DTA include associate of arts and associate of science degrees in construction management, computer science, math education, and bioengineering, to name just a few. LWTech offers apprenticeships in several occupational arenas.
LWTech also offers bachelor of applied science (BAS) programs in 10 fields of study, such as behavioral healthcare, applied management, digital gaming and interactive media, and public health. Admission criteria for BAS programs differ, but they generally require the completion of an associate degree in a related field. Many of the BAS programs at LWTech grant college credits for prior learning experience.
Renton Technical CollegeLocation
Renton Technical College opened in 1941 and has grown steadily from offering basic pre-employment training programs to more than 45 degrees and certificates across eight career pathways. RTC currently enrolls about 4,000 students each year.
The college offers bachelor of applied science programs in application development and in computer network architecture. Applicants must hold an associate degree in information technology or a related field from an accredited institution for consideration. RTC maintains transfer agreements with several four-year institutions in the state and throughout the region, including Western Governors University and Central Washington University.
RTC coordinates 16 apprenticeship programs that serve approximately 1,500 apprentices each year. Apprenticeship areas include carpentry, culinary arts, construction, and heat and frost insulation. Each program adheres to specific criteria in terms of admission, completion, and length of training. RTC typically awards a corresponding certificate to students who complete an apprenticeship program. However, students who enroll in additional related courses during their apprenticeship may qualify for an associate in applied science degree.
Bellingham Technical CollegeLocation
Established in 1957, Bellingham Technical College currently enrolls over 5,400 students each year. The college offers more than 65 degree and certificate programs across 10 fields of study, including industrial technology, engineering and advanced manufacturing, fisheries and aquaculture sciences, and culinary arts. BTC also offers workforce development programs, adult and continuing education courses, and other noncredit educational opportunities for students and other members of the larger community.
BTC offers two bachelor of applied science (BAS) programs: a fully online BAS in operations management and an on-campus BAS in engineering technology. The college maintains transfer agreements with several senior universities around the region to facilitate the transfer process for its graduates. The number of credits accepted for transfer depends on the criteria of receiving institutions. The college also offers direct transfer degrees in nursing, business, and computer science. Students who complete these specialized programs transfer to a four-year institution with a junior status.
Columbia Basin CollegeLocation
Enrolling just under 300 students when it opened in 1955, Columbia Basin College now admits more than 11,000 students each year. The college maintains over 100 degree and certificate programs across eight areas of study, including health sciences, career and technical education, business, and computer science.
CBC offers bachelor of applied science (BAS) programs in teacher education, health physics, project management, and dental hygiene, among others. BAS programs often schedule classes in the evening or deliver them online to provide greater flexibility and convenience to students. The School of Health Sciences offers an associate degree in nursing and an RN-to-BSN program for associate-trained registered nurses.
CBC continually coordinates with local businesses and trade unions to offer apprenticeship programs to its students. The college currently offers apprenticeships in eight areas, including carpentry, electrical, ironworks, plumbing, and sheet metal. CBC awards a certificate to apprentices who complete their program. Graduates also earn a journeyman credential from the state.
Shoreline Community CollegeLocation
Occupying an 83-acre campus just 10 miles north of Seattle, Shoreline Community College enrolls approximately 10,000 students each year. Shoreline offers more than 150 programs across five areas of study: arts and communication, STEM, business, health and medical, and social sciences and education. The larger community benefits from several programs available at the college, such as ESL classes, adult and continuing education courses, and personal enrichment learning opportunities.
Shoreline offers 53 degrees for transfer including a pre-major in business available 100% online. The college maintains articulation agreements with several four-year colleges and universities in Washington and throughout the country to facilitate the transfer process for its graduates. Professional technical programs include 10-week certificates and two-year associate degrees, several of which can be completed entirely online.
The college maintains several scholarship and grant programs to help students pay for their education. For example, the Opportunity Grant Program specifically targets low-income students enrolled in a workforce education program such as business technology, manufacturing, or automotive.
Clover Park Technical CollegeLocation
Clover Park Technical College started out in 1941 as part of the country's war effort, training civilian workers to repair and maintain military equipment. Today, CPTC offers over 40 programs in diverse fields such as human services, health sciences, advanced manufacturing, and aerospace. The college enrolls more than 6,600 students with a median age of 29. CPTC offers community education programs, corporate training services, and credit and noncredit lifelong learning opportunities that benefit students and members of the larger community.
CPTC currently maintains articulation agreements with several private and public four-year institutions throughout the state and surrounding region. Some of these include Washington State University, Excelsior College, St. Martin's University, and the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising.
The college recently received a grant for $270,000 to enhance its HVAC, refrigeration, and roofing apprenticeship program. CPTC also offers an apprenticeship in medical assisting and sterile processing through a partnership with a local healthcare provider.
Walla Walla Community CollegeLocation
Walla Walla, WATuition
Established in 1967, Walla Walla Community College enrolls close to 5,000 students and offers academic and workforce training programs in seven education pathways. Students can earn an associate degree and occupational certificate in manufacturing, operations, and transportation; healthcare and emergency services; business and consumer services; and business.
The majority of students (53%) at WWCC enroll in workforce education programs leading to an occupational credential. The college offers seven direct transfer agreement (DTA) programs in fields like biology, business, nursing, and math education. DTA degrees transfer in full to participating four-year institutions granting junior standing to transferees.
Associate in applied science (AAS) programs at WWCC typically prepare students to enter the workforce immediately after completion. However, the college offers several AAS for transfer degrees (AAS-T) that students can later apply toward a bachelor's at a four-year institution. AAS-T degrees include programs in agricultural science and technology, watershed ecology, turf management, and early childhood education.
Port Angeles, WATuition
About 5,000 students enroll at Peninsula College every year. The college offers certificates, associate degrees, and a bachelor's program across five academic departments. Peninsula College serves a region that includes six Native American tribal reservations. Recognizing the unique educational needs of these communities, the college offers two degrees specifically for Native American students -- an associate in arts bridge program and a native pathways bachelor of arts program.
Peninsula College offers a bachelor of applied science (BAS) in applied management for students who already hold an associate degree. The program includes an internship component that students can begin once they complete 45 credit hours. The college delivers many of the courses for the BAS online for added convenience and flexibility. The program follows a rolling admission policy and accepts applications throughout the year.
Peninsula College maintains a Worker Retraining program for students facing temporary or long-term financial assistance. The program helps furloughed enrollees, students who are displaced homemakers or who have exhausted their unemployment benefits, and other vulnerable students.
South Puget Sound Community CollegeLocation
Called the Olympia Vocational Technical Institute when it opened in 1962, South Puget Sound Community College currently serves a population of 6,000 students every quarter. The college offers 60 associate and certificate programs across 10 educational pathways, including government, public, and nonprofit administration; social services and education; information technology; and food, beverage arts, and hospitality. SPSCC also maintains corporate and continuing education programs and provides personal development classes and cultural enrichment opportunities for members of the larger community.
SPSCC offers direct transfer agreement (DTA) associate degrees in biology, music, business, and nursing. In most instances, students who complete a DTA degree at SPSCC transfer to a participating four-year institution with junior standing. The college also maintains articulation agreements with other senior colleges and universities that facilitate the transfer of specific courses within similar programs.
The Career Services Center at SPSCC helps students find part-time on-campus employment, full-time jobs after graduation, and internship and apprenticeship opportunities. The center also provides career exploration services and assistance with resume writing and job interviews.
Everett Community CollegeLocation
Founded in1941, Everett Community College moved to its current site only in 1958. Today, the college maintains a variety of educational options for the 19,000 students who enroll every year. EvCC offers more than 100 associate degrees, certificates and occupational credentials, and apprenticeship programs across eight career pathways.
EvCC maintains transfer agreements with several four-year institutions in the region, including Central Washington University and Eastern Oregon University. These agreements facilitate the transfer of specific courses taken at EvCC to similar programs in a receiving college or university. EvCC offers a few programs under a direct transfer agreement (DTA) with some four-year colleges and universities. DTA degrees transfer in its entirety, and students transfer to the receiving school as juniors.
EvCC continues to work with local businesses and trade unions to offer apprenticeship options to its students. The college currently maintains apprenticeship programs in advanced manufacturing technology; machining, precision metal fabrication, industrial maintenance, tool and die; and plastic process technology.
Peirce College - Fort SteilacoomLocation
When Peirce College opened in 1967 as Clover Park Community College, more than 1,500 students enrolled for classes. Today, the college serves approximately 10,000 students each year and maintains a variety of educational programs across six career pathways. Peirce College offers associate degrees and professional certificates in fields like construction management, social service and mental health, communication and design, and public service.
Students can pursue an on-campus bachelor of applied science (BAS) in business management, dental hygiene, and teaching. The BAS programs in fire services leadership and in homeland security emergency management offer mostly online courses. BAS program applicants must hold an associate degree and, in most cases, show proof of significant professional experience.
Peirce College offers direct transfer degrees in biology, math education, business, and computer science, among others. These degrees fall under direct transfer agreements (DTA) between Peirce College and four-year colleges and universities in the region. Graduates of DTA degrees transfer to receiving institutions with a junior standing.
Bellevue College serves a student population of over 32,000 each year, making it the third largest postsecondary institution in the state. Students can choose from more than 120 associate or bachelor's degrees as well as professional and technical certificates currently available. Fields of study include allied health and nursing, computer and information systems, digital media arts, and robotics and artificial intelligence, just to name a few.
BC offers bachelor of applied science programs for students who already hold an associate degree. BAS programs include diverse fields such as digital marketing, healthcare informatics, molecular biosciences, and data analytics. Additionally, through a long-time partnership with Eastern Washington University, BC offers a bachelor of science in nursing and in computer science. Students can complete these programs from Eastern right on the BC campus.
The college offers nine associate degrees for transfer in music, business, bioengineering, and physics, among others. Students can also complete an associate program that prepares them for immediate workplace employment after graduation.
North Seattle CollegeLocation
An average of 6,000 students each quarter enroll at North Seattle College , located just a short distance from the University of Washington. North currently offers six transfer and five bachelor of applied science (BAS) degrees, 34 associate of applied science programs, and 82 professional certificates. Additionally, the college maintains career training and college preparation programs, offers ESL and adult education classes, and coordinates several noncredit learning opportunities for the benefit of the larger community.
The college organizes its programs according to six career pathways including business and finance; engineering and technology; and social sciences and education. BAS programs at North include internship opportunities and award college credits for prior learning and relevant work experience. Associate degrees for transfer include programs in business, fine arts, environmental sciences, and engineering.
North Seattle College recently partnered with Central Washington University (CWU) to give graduates of a BAS in international business or application development the chance to complete a master's degree from CWU. The university offers coursework for this special program completely online.
Lower Columbia CollegeLocation
Established in 1934, Lower Columbia College today serves a student population of more than 4,000 each year and offers over 70 programs across 15 areas of study. Students can earn an associate or bachelor of applied science degree or an occupational certificate in computer science, arts and communication, criminal justice and healthcare, among others. The college also maintains workforce education and corporate training programs and offers noncredit transitional studies and enrichment learning opportunities to members of the larger community.
Lower Columbia College currently partners with four institutions (Grand Canyon, Warner Pacific, Washington State, and Western Governors universities) that have agreed to offer some of their undergraduate and graduate programs at the on-campus Regional University Center. Students who meet the admission requirements of the four-year institution they wish to attend can earn a bachelor's or master's degree without relocating. Current areas of study include digital design, business administration, nursing, accounting, and special education.
Close to 11,000 credit-seeking students currently attend Clark College , which was founded in 1933. First-generation college students make up 76% of the college's total enrollment roster. Clark College offers more than 100 programs across six pathways, including public service, society, and education; business and entrepreneurship; advanced manufacturing; and science, technology, and engineering. The college also offers a pre-college program (transitional studies), adult education classes, and workforce training opportunities.
Clark College maintains direct transfer agreements (DTA) with 25 four-year colleges and universities that facilitate the transfer of its graduates to their bachelor's programs. In general, a Clark College student who completes an associate of arts DTA degree can transfer to a participating school with a junior status. The DTA does not cover all associate programs offered at the college. Some of the participating institutions include Brigham Young University, Warner Pacific College, and St. Martin's University. Transfer students must meet any other admission criteria required by the receiving college or university.
Career and Salary Outlook for Trade School Graduates
Many trade school programs lead to careers with above-average salaries and strong demand. Salaries for trade school graduates vary depending on the individual's industry, location, and experience.
Graduates of trade schools earn an average of $55,000 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, salaries vary widely by field and position. For example, professionals in personal care and service occupations earn an average of $32,000 per year, while managers earn average salaries of more than $96,000 per year. Workers in healthcare practitioners and technical occupations earn an average of more than $55,000 per year, while the average salary for healthcare support professionals is about $45,000 per year.
According to BLS data , dental hygienists in Washington earn average salaries of more than $93,000 per year, and respiratory therapists in the state earn an average of nearly $72,000 annually. Washington paralegals earn an average of about $61,000 annually, and the average annual salary of electricians in the state is more than $71,000. Prospective trade school students can research the earning potential for individual occupations when choosing a field and program.
In addition, many occupations for trade school graduates report strong job growth. The BLS projects much faster-than-average job growth for dental hygienists , HVAC technicians , and paralegals between 2018 and 2028. The BLS also projects growth for careers in allied health, the skilled trades, and STEM fields.
What Kinds of Trade School Programs Are Available?
Vocational and trade schools in Washington offer certificates and degrees in many high-demand areas. Programs for dental hygienists, mechanics, paralegals, and radiology technicians typically take less than two years. Students can also pursue vocational programs to train for careers as occupational therapy assistants, cosmetologists, HVAC technicians, and pharmacy technicians.
See below for a few popular fields for trade school students.
Dental Hygienist Schools
Dental hygienists conduct examinations and clean patients' teeth. These professionals look for signs of oral diseases and provide preventive care. Dental hygienists report their findings to dentists, and they document treatment plans.
Most dental hygienists hold an associate degree with coursework in anatomy, periodontics, and oral hygiene. Dental hygienist programs also include laboratory and clinical instruction, which helps students gain skills in patient care. According to the BLS, dental hygienists earned a median annual salary of more than $76,000 in 2019. The BLS projects employment for dental hygienists to increase 11% from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations.
Dental hygienists need a license. In Washington, the Washington State Department of Health licenses dental hygienists who complete an accredited dental hygiene program, pass the dental hygiene national board exam, and pass clinical examinations.
This list includes the best dental hygienist programs .
Mechanics, also called service technicians, inspect and repair vehicles. They use diagnostic equipment to identify problems, and they repair worn parts and perform maintenance on cars and trucks. Mechanics may specialize in an area such as engine repair, transmissions, or electrical systems.
Many mechanics complete a vocational program in automotive service technology. Students take courses in automotive repair, electronics, and brake maintenance. Learners gain practical training through practicum or laboratory requirements.
After completing a mechanic program, graduates can pursue a specialty certification from an organization such as the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence , which offers certifications in areas including engine performance, suspension, and automatic transmissions. Mechanics earned a median annual salary of about $42,000 in 2019, according to the BLS.
This resource provides information about the top mechanic programs .
Paralegals assist lawyers by conducting legal research, drafting documents, and summarizing reports. Paralegals can specialize in an area such as contract law, corporate law, or litigation. These legal professionals also file briefs and appeals with the court.
Learners at vocational schools in Washington can pursue paralegal studies and legal studies programs. Paralegal studies programs typically include coursework in legal writing, business law, legal terminology, and legal research. Paralegals do not need a license or certification to practice, though some employers prefer certified candidates.
Paralegals earned a median annual salary of more than $51,000 in 2019, and the BLS projects employment for these professionals to increase 12% from 2018 to 2028.
This page offers additional information about paralegal studies programs .
Radiology Technician Schools
Radiology technicians, also called radiographers, take diagnostic images to help physicians treat patients. They prepare patients for procedures, operate imaging equipment such as X-rays, and evaluate the quality of images. Radiology technicians must follow safety procedures to protect patients and themselves.
Most radiology technicians hold an associate degree with coursework in anatomy, radiation protection, image evaluation, and patient care. Radiology students also complete clinical requirements.
Graduates in the field typically earn professional certification from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists . According to the BLS, radiology technicians earned a median annual salary of more than $62,000 in 2019. The Washington State Department of Health licenses radiology technicians.
This guide provides information about the best radiology technician programs .
Financial Aid for Trade School Students
Trade school students often use financial aid to help fund their education. Learners can apply for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. To receive federal financial aid, students must complete the FAFSA annually. However, only students at accredited schools qualify for federal financial aid. Students should understand whether each prospective vocational school meets the requirements for federal student aid eligibility.
Students can also lower the cost of their degree by choosing one of the more affordable vocational schools in Washington. The total cost of a vocational program varies widely by type of school. For example, the cost of tuition and fees at public universities is typically much less than at private universities. However, community colleges generally offer the most affordable tuition rates.
In addition to federal financial aid, trade school students can apply for grants and scholarships from private foundations, government agencies, and professional associations. Unlike loans, scholarships do not require repayment. The following section includes some scholarship opportunities for learners attending Washington trade schools.
Scholarship for Trade School Students
Students attending trade schools in Washington can qualify for many scholarships and grants. Scholarships can help learners reduce the cost of earning a vocational certificate or degree. In addition to the scholarships below, students can research opportunities based on their field or school.
AOFT Washington Scholarship
Who Can Apply : The Washington division of the American Occupational Therapy Foundation offers this scholarship to an occupational therapy assistant student in Washington State. Applicants must hold membership with the Washington Occupational Therapy Association.
Amount : Varies
WSEA Vocational Grant
Who Can Apply : The Washington State Elks Association offers this grant to graduating high school seniors pursuing a vocational certificate or degree. Applicants must be attending one of the community colleges or tech schools in Washington.
Amount : Varies
Matsuo Bridge Company, Ltd. of Japan Scholarship
Who Can Apply : The scholarship supports learners studying welding engineering, welding engineering technology, or a related field. Applicants must have a minimum 3.0 GPA and attend an accredited school. Washington residents receive priority.
Amount : $2,500
Pride Foundation Scholarship
Who Can Apply : The Pride Foundation offers multiple scholarships to students who identify as LGBTQ or allies. Recipients must be pursuing a postsecondary education at community college, four-year university, or vocational school in Washington.
Amount : Varies
Joseph Darimont Vocational Award
Who Can Apply : The scholarship from the Washington State Elks Association supports one student per year. Applicants must be between the ages of 18 and 50. Recipients can apply the funding toward the cost of tuition, fees, books, and supplies.
Amount : $1,000