These 10 Trade Schools Have Some of the Best ROI in the Country

trade schools with best roi

We’ve all seen the lists of the “best colleges in the country” — and it’s never a surprise which ones come out on top.

Harvard, Yale, Princeton … but how about St. Paul’s School of Nursing in Queens? Forbes recently published a list of the top 30 two-year trade schools in the country, and St. Paul’s was No. 1.

Here are the benefits of attending a trade school, the trade schools with the best return on investment (ROI), and the steps you should take before making any decisions about your education.

Why go to a trade school?

When it comes to choosing a college, two of the most important factors are affordability and ROI. That’s why trade schools are worth your consideration.

For one thing, attending a trade school could mean you’ll graduate with less student loan debt.

Here are the average costs of attending different types of colleges:

  • Two years at a trade school: $33,000
  • Four years of in-state tuition at a public institution: $37,640
  • Four years at a private institution: $129,620

The cost difference between a trade school and an in-state public university isn’t huge. But keep in mind that most trade schools are two years or less. That means you’ll graduate and earn money sooner than you would with a four-year degree.

And because you’ll have skills that prepare you for a specific career, you’ll be less likely to float around and work minimum-wage jobs while you figure out what you want to do with your life after graduation.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the need for workers in skilled trades is growing. If you get a trade degree, you could help fill that gap.

10 trade schools with excellent ROI

Forbes analyzed more than 400 two-year trade schools and ranked them based on earnings, affordability, and quality to determine which ones provided the biggest bang for your buck.

It looked at data such as:

  • Graduates’ average earnings six and 10 years after graduation
  • Sticker price, median student loan debt, and repayment success
  • Retention and completion rates and student-faculty ratio

We included a sampling from the top 30 schools below. We chose not to include an ordered list of the top 10 because the majority were nursing schools — and we wanted to offer a diverse selection.

Based on the data above, here are some of the best trade schools in order of best to worst ROI.

1. St Paul’s School of Nursing (Queens)

Location: Rego Park, New York

Early career salary: $75,800

Most popular area of study: health professions and related programs

2. Los Angeles County College of Nursing and Allied Health

Location: Los Angeles, California

Early career salary: $87,200

Most popular area of study: health professions and related programs

3. Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics

Location: West Mifflin, Pennsylvania

Early career salary: $52,900

Most popular area of study: transportation and materials moving

4. Island Drafting and Technical Institute

Location: Amityville, New York

Early career salary: $42,900

Most popular area of study: engineering technologies and engineering-related fields

5. Triangle Tech (Greensburg)

Location: Greensburg, Pennsylvania

Early career salary: $42,900

Most popular area of study: construction trades

6. Morrison Institute of Technology

Location: Morrison, Illinois

Early career salary: $43,900

Most popular area of study: engineering technologies and engineering-related fields

7. West Coast Ultrasound Institute

Location: Beverly Hills, California

Early career salary: $50,100

Most popular area of study: health professions and related programs

8. Wyotech (Laramie)

Location: Laramie, Wyoming

Early career salary: $42,500

Most popular area of study: mechanic and repair technologies/technicians

9. ITI Technical College

Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Early career salary: $46,100

Most popular area of study: engineering technologies and engineering-related fields

10. Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture

Location: Curtis, Nebraska

Early career salary: $43,500

Most popular area of study: agriculture, agriculture operations, and related sciences

3 steps to take before choosing a school

If you’re tempted by the idea of trade school, the important thing is that you compare your options carefully.

Here are three steps you should take before saying yes to any school.

1. Gather information

Knowledge is power — especially when it comes to choosing a college. For each school you’re considering, find out everything you can.

Here are some action steps we recommend:

  • Read rankings (and methodologies).
  • Talk to current students and alumni.
  • Research retention rates and average salaries of graduates.
  • Ask about specifics that matter to you: study abroad programs, student-faculty ratios, professional organizations, job placement services, etc.

2. Crunch the numbers

Once you receive your financial aid package, it’s time to break out the calculator.

If your package includes student loans, remember that it’s not funny money. It’s money you’ll have to pay back each month while trying to enjoy your 20s.

To estimate your monthly payment — and maybe open your eyes to the reality of loans — use our monthly payment calculator.

For example, if you took out $35,000 of loans at a 5.70% weighted interest rate, you’d be on the hook for $383 per month for 10 years after graduation.

If that won’t put a dent in your social life, we don’t know what will!

3. Find ways to lower the cost

Whichever path you choose, look for ways to lower the cost.

You can negotiate with your financial aid office, work while you’re in school, and apply for scholarships (although you should make sure you won’t be subject to scholarship displacement before doing so).

Whether it’s a trade school, community college, four-year university, or gap year, don’t take your decision lightly. The financial repercussions of your education will last for far longer than your college years will.

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