With rising costs of traditional four-year universities, many high school graduates or career changers are looking for more affordable schooling opportunities. Technical colleges, or trade schools, focus on specializing job training to help people get into the workforce more quickly, with programs generally lasting two years.

There are a ton of great options out there for those that can’t imagine anything worse than sitting behind a desk (we can’t either). Some of the best trade school careers include paths into plumbing, electrical work, heating and cooling, and construction. The jobs within construction industries are critical and in high demand. According to the BLS, most of the jobs within these trades are projected to grow at least 4% over the next ten years.

We gathered and analyzed data to look at some of the best trade schools for your construction career path by comparing tuition, student-to-faculty ratios, graduation rates, and number of recently completed degrees.

Top Trade Schools

We ranked schools in different categories to see which would land in the top 20 trade schools to consider in 2021. Want to know how each school measured up by category? See the full results. Otherwise, here’s the list starting with best overall.

  1. Northeast Community College
  2. Southeast Community College Area
  3. Mitchell Technical Institute
  4. Northwest Kansas Technical College
  5. Lake Area Technical Institute
  6. Bismarck State College
  7. Mid-Plains Community College
  8. Bellingham Technical College
  9. Seattle Central College
  10. Western Nebraska Community College
  11. East Mississippi Community College
  12. Metropolitan Community College Area
  13. Central New Mexico Community College
  14. Pratt Community College
  15. Washtenaw Community College
  16. Itawamba Community College
  17. Pitt Community College
  18. Walla Walla Community College
  19. East Central Community College
  20. Minnesota State Community and Technical College

Cheapest Trade Schools

We’re aware that cost is a large factor in choosing a school, especially with rising education costs. Since our top 20 list shows best averages across categories, we also organized them by tuition rates. Here are the top 10 cheapest trade schools for students pursuing a career in the construction industry.

Cheapest Trade Schools for In-State Students

  1. Cleveland Community College – North Carolina
  2. Coffeyville Community College – Kansas
  3. College of the Redwoods – California
  4. Southeast Community College Area – Nebraska
  5. Fort Peck Community College – Montana
  6. Central New Mexico Community College – New Mexico
  7. Yavapai College – Arizona
  8. Coahoma Community College – Mississippi
  9. Tuskegee University – Alabama
  10. Pikes Peak Community College – Colorado

Cheapest Trade Schools for Out-of-State Students

  1. Fort Peck Community College – Montana
  2. Coahoma Community College – Mississippi
  3. Southeast Community College Area – Nebraska
  4. United Tribes Technical College – North Dakota
  5. Bay Mills Community College – Michigan
  6. Seattle Central College – Washington
  7. Western Nebraska Community College – Nebraska
  8. Coffeyville Community College – Kansas
  9. Mid-Plains Community College – Nebraska
  10. Metropolitan Community College Area – Nebraska

Popular Trade Schools for Construction Degrees

For some students, cost might not be the most important factor. Since employers may prefer certain programs over others, we wanted to see the popularity of different schools. Looking at the total number of graduates with construction-related degrees over the past year, here are the top ten schools.

  1. Ivy Tech Community College – Indiana
  2. SUNY College of Technology at Alfred – New York
  3. Triangle Tech Inc-Greensburg – Pennsylvania
  4. SUNY College of Technology at Delhi – New York
  5. Triangle Tech Inc-Pittsburgh – Pennsylvania
  6. Northeast Community College
  7. Utah Valley University – Utah
  8. Vincennes University – Indiana
  9. Hudson Valley Community College – New York
  10. Salt Lake Community College – Utah

Best Trade School Careers

One way to justify the cost of ongoing education is to see what your potential earnings might be post-graduation. Some of the best trade school careers are quite lucrative. According to the BLS, here are some of the median salaries for construction-related careers to explore:

  • Electricians – $56,990
  • Ironworkers – $53,210
  • Plumbers -$56,330
  • Carpenters – $49,520
  • Drywall Installers – $48,830
  • Construction Equipment Operators – $49,100
  • Construction and Building Inspectors – $62,860
  • Masonry Workers – $47,710

Pursuing a career in the trades is ideal for those who enjoy learning through hands-on experience and want a physically active occupation. Not all careers in the trades require a degree, although displaying a level of commitment and knowledge can give you an advantage over other job applicants. If you’d prefer hands-on experience there are plenty of resources for apprenticeships. Search job sites for apprenticeship positions and contact local businesses or unions. Even if you don’t see a listing available for an internship, smaller companies may be interested in teaching someone on the job. The U.S. Department of Labor also has resources on construction-related industry apprenticeships. Regardless of what career you choose to pursue, when you’re ready to get your hands dirty and you need your first pair of work boots, Thorogood has you covered. 😉

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