How Much Do Trade Schools Cost?

how much do trade schools cost

Trade workers are crucial to the functioning of any economy. And even though most trade-related professions do not mandate an extensive degree of education, they still require a decent amount of formal training to increase their fundamental proficiency at the job and make individuals more appealing to employers.

If you’re looking to become a trade professional by enrolling in a trade school, it is inevitable to wonder how much it’ll cost. Well, that’s what we’re here to answer.

Keep reading, and you’ll learn everything you need to know about how much trade schools cost, the factors that influence this figure, and how to reduce it to suit your budget significantly.

How Much are Trade Schools?

While most aspiring trade professionals would like a straightforward answer to how much trade schools cost, the only short answer is that it varies. Some tuition fees can get as high as $15,000 yearly, while others can be as low as $3,000. Ultimately, tuition is one of many costs to consider, as other factors can increase or decrease how much you pay for your time at a trade school.


Tuition fees are often the most significant cost of enrolling in any trade school. While they do have a lot of variances, the US Department of College Education estimates the average tuition fees as follows:

  • A two-year study at a public trade school costs $3,863 in tuition.
  • A two-year study at a private, not-for-profit trade school costs $15,549 in tuition.
  • A two-year study at a private for-profit trade school costs $15,033 in tuition.

As we’ll see below, there are several ways to reduce these costs, and many students often take this route.

Books & Supplies

Another cost that must be accounted for when attending a trade school is the cost of books and supplies. For example, it is possible for a student attending a two-year trade program to spend at least $1000 on books and supplies in a year.

While some trade programs include this cost as a part of their tuition charges, some don’t.

Community Colleges & Trade Schools

Community colleges also offer vocational programs, which leads to many aspiring trade professionals having to choose between a conventional trade school and a community college program.

Consider the kind of learning experience you’re looking for in making a decision. While community colleges employ a broader training scope in their programs, incorporating other education classes, trade schools are often more specific and direct, taking less time.

Trade schools are also more focused on providing hands-on experience than community colleges. Regarding cost, community colleges are usually more affordable than trade schools. But of course, they also require a more significant amount of time investment.

Lowering the Cost of Trade Schools

It is possible to significantly lower the costs of attending trade schools. Some students manage to reduce the cost to zero ultimately. Some ways to achieve this are scholarships, grants, and other financial aid.


Scholarships are made available by nonprofit organizations, trade organizations, unions, and professional associations. Some schools even offer scholarship opportunities supported by alums or in conjunction with third-party companies or organizations.

Scholarships usually require meeting a handful of criteria, sometimes academic and sometimes demographic-based.


Federal grants can be a great way to significantly reduce the cost of attending a trade school. Data from the National Center for Education Statistics shows that students at public trade schools got an average of $5,100 in federal grants between 2018 and 2019.

There are also state grants for trade programs, such as the California Cal Grant C, the Oklahoma Tuition Aid Grant (OTAG), and the Washington College Grant Program.


Loans can ease the initial burden of attending a trade school. Of course, loans must be paid back at some point, unlike scholarships and grants. The good news is that student loans associated with trade schools are lower than those associated with traditional colleges.

Federal loans with fixed interests are also an excellent alternative for more convenience.

Judging the Value of a Program

The value of a program can outweigh its costs. And sometimes, it is better, in the long run, to go for a more expensive program with more weight than a less expensive one with little value.

So how do you judge the value of a trade program? The factors below should help.

  • Accreditation - Accreditation often indicates a program’s quality, seeing as programs have to meet a specified standard before they can be accredited.
  • Books & Supplies - Some trade schools include the cost of books and supplies in their overall tuition charges; as such, the figure may seem higher than it is. It is essential to note this when comparing costs between two schools.
  • Duration - Trade schools can be completed in as little as six months. Regardless of how expensive it is, completing a program fast is good as it allows you to start earning as quickly as possible.
  • Paid Training - The value of a trade school is increased if they offer the opportunity for students to acquire hands-on training by practicing what they’re learning and getting paid for it. Most trade schools offer this opportunity.
  • Employment Assistance - Opting for a school that offers employment assistance upon graduation is always great.