What do you want to do nearly every day for the rest of your life? Some people have this figured out by the time they’re 11 and already know how to get into trade school or their college of choice. Most everyone else needs to do a little reconnaissance.

If you’re unsure of what career path to take, narrow down your ideas a bit. What do you like to do — put things together? Help people? Cook? Also think about how much education and/or experience you’ll need. If you enjoy working with your hands and interacting with people — and you want to get started as soon as possible — consider attending one of Utah’s trade schools. 

Is trade school right for you?

The need for skilled laborers is always in demand and by training at a trade school, you can be prepared to fill one of those positions. Search for current openings on KSL Jobs to see what types of work are available — and your potential earnings.

When you come across a job you might be interested in, ask someone currently in the trade. What is a typical day like? What do you like about this job? What are the drawbacks? If it sounds like something you would enjoy, you’re on your way.


Part of your trade school coursework may include working as an apprentice.

A training network

There are eight technical colleges across Utah, all part of the Utah System of Technical Colleges established in 2001. The network of schools includes:

Courses are designed to help both recent high school graduates and other adults learn skills and earn certification in the various trades. Among them, more than 400 areas of study are available. You can also return later for additional training as needed for potential work advancements.

Salt Lake Community College also offers classes for both certification and vocational degrees, as do many of the state’s public universities. Check their respective websites for your specific program of interest.

Private trade schools

In addition to state-sponsored technical colleges, there are more than 40 private certified trade schools in Utah. The majority are for cosmetology, health professions and massage therapy. But there are also options for computer science jobs such as programming and web design.

Why study a trade?

There are trades that don’t require a high school diploma, but many well-paying jobs require some additional schooling. That doesn’t mean you need to attend a four-year college. In fact, you can usually earn a certification or vocational degree in less than two years — or as little as 10 months.

Utah’s trade school network was formed and designed to meet the state’s need for technically skilled workers. Organizers wanted a place where people could learn and train for jobs in a fast-paced environment, allowing them to quickly enter the workforce.

It’s meant to be convenient and flexible. Unlike traditional higher education, most programs are open entry and exit: You can start almost anytime, not just in the fall or spring. You can also take classes at your own pace, making it ideal for students who are working or have other time constraints. Programs may include long-term study, short-term or an apprenticeship.


Trade jobs are in high demand in Utah.

Benefits of trade school

Careers requiring a vocational degree or technical certification are among the most needed in Utah. There are many programs of study and potential jobs. A few options include:

How to apply

Another plus for attending a trade school? The admission process is simple — fill out an application; no essays or ACT test scores are needed. Each program has its own requirements, so look up your desired field of study for specifics on how to apply to trade school. Generally speaking, though, if you don’t have a high school degree and accompanying transcript, you may need to take a math and/or reading assessment.

Once you contact the tech college of your choice, you will likely be assigned an academic advisor. They can help you with the application process and answer any questions. They will also have information about financial aid opportunities and scholarships.

If you want to get a head start, you may enroll in classes while you are still in high school. It’s a perk worth taking advantage of if you know what you’re interested in. When you are concurrently enrolled, tuition is free, although you will still need to cover books and materials.

Paying for trade school

Tuition for a course of study at Utah’s technical colleges varies by program; on average, expect to pay around $25,000. You may not need to pay that out-of-pocket, though. Because the state schools are accredited, you can apply for federal student aid. To qualify for funds, the program must be 15 weeks or more and you must be enrolled full-time (24 credit hours or more).

To apply for financial aid, which includes need-based grants and low-interest student loans, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. You’ll need:

  • Previous year’s federal tax form
  • W-2s
  • Record of child support payments (paid or received)
  • Name of school you plan to attend

In addition to federal aid, you can apply for scholarships. There are three major scholarships available to Utah high school students.

CTE Scholarship and Tuition

High school seniors who have attended career and technical education classes may apply for the CTE Scholarship and Tuition Award. The Utah State Board of Education sponsors the award for outstanding CTE students, to be used for further education. All public schools in Utah participate except Utah State University and the University of Utah.

Utah Technical College

Students currently working toward a high school diploma or GED may apply for the Utah Technical College Scholarship. The award may cover tuition, fees and books for one year at one of the eight technical colleges. Contact your school of interest to apply.

Energy Pathways

If you plan to earn certification in a STEM-related subject, apply for the Utah Office of Energy Development Energy Pathways Scholarship. It’s available to a high school student or first-year student at a trade or technical school. 

Private scholarships

Professional associations may sponsor private scholarships in their particular field. Also, if you’re working in an area related to your program of study, some employers offer tuition reimbursement or assistance.

In addition, search for other relevant vocational scholarships on reputable sites such as Scholarships.com. Private student loans are also an option.

Learn from experts

Is trade school hard? Look at it this way: Of course it will take work and study, but your classes will be relevant to your chosen field of interest. You won’t be taking traditional subjects such as history, geology or English. And instead of daily lectures, you’ll have demonstrations, hands-on learning and apprenticeships.

Your teachers will include experts in your trade of interest. If you are studying to be an electrician, for example, you’ll learn from master and journeyman electricians; they’ll have years of practical experience, as well as additional training and education themselves.

See what’s available in your trade of interest on KSL Jobs. You can search by experience and education requirements, as well as your desired salary and benefits.