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Best 19 Trade Schools in Chicago in 2021

May 4, 2021 | Staff Writers

Trade Schools in Chicago
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For centuries Chicago’s been the base of major manufacturing, construction, and transportation industries. In the hands of hard-working technical laborers, the city grew to become the third largest metropolis in the United States. It’s no small wonder why Chicago is home to so many trade schools.

What Is A Trade School?

A trade school teaches the technical skills needed for certain vocational trades. Some of these skilled trades include automotive technician, electrician, plumbing, and welding as well as health industry professions such as dental hygienists or phlebotomy. For the purposes of this article, we focused on schools offering industrial and construction trades. Some schools are offered through local colleges, while others have standalone campuses.

How Much Does Trade School Cost?

Cost can be determined by several factors, such as tuition per credit hour, program length, and additional material cost. In some cases, a program with lower tuition may end up costing more if the program itself is longer. Full-time enrollment typically means a student attends at least 12 credit hours of instruction per semester. Some programs require students to purchase a set of tools to use during instruction. Other factors that add to cost can include transportation, housing, and meals.

Interested in earning vocational training online? Use our degree finder and other site resources to find a program to fit your needs.

What Are The Best Trade Schools In Chicago?

We ranked 20 trade schools in the Chicago metro area to determine which ones have the best value. Factors we used in our rankings included tuition per hour, student-faculty ratio, and first-timer graduation rate. Check out the results below!

Best 19 Trade Schools in Chicago

1. College of Lake County – Grayslake – 78 Points

College of Lake County offers associate’s degrees and certificates in manufacturing, engineering and advanced technologies. Areas of study include automotive repair and technologies, CAD, electrician apprenticeship, HVAC, machine tools, and welding. CLC has a graduation rate of 28%.

  • In-District Tuition: $125 per credit hour
  • Student-Faculty Ratio: 17:1

2. Waubonsee Community College – Sugar Grove – 74 Points

The Industry and Manufacturing area of study at Waubonsee Community College features degrees and specialization certificates. Programs offered include auto body repair, automotive technology, automation technology, electronics technology, HVAC, industrial technology, machine tool technology, manufacturing, and welding. WCC’s graduation rate is 35%.

  • In-District Tuition: $132 per credit hour
  • Student-Faculty Ratio: 19:1

3. Elgin Community College – Elgin – 72 Points

Elgin Community College awards short-term training certificates and Associate of Applied Science degrees. Relevant areas of study comprise automotive, CAD, manufacturing, HVAC, and welding. For those interested in transferring to a 4 year institution, they offer transfer pathways into electrical engineering and mechanical engineering. ECC’s graduation rate is 35%.

  • In-District Tuition: $132 per credit hour
  • Student-Faculty Ratio: 20:1

4. McHenry County College – Crystal Lake – 70 Points

Students can earn associate’s degrees, certificates, and advanced certificates at McHenry County College. Technical education programs include architectural and engineering design, automotive technology, construction management, engineering technology, industrial maintenance, manufacturing management, and welding. The graduation rate at MCC is 28%.

  • In-District Tuition: $111 per credit hour
  • Student-Faculty Ratio: 26:1

5. Moraine Valley Community College – Palos Hills – 68 Points

Moraine Valley Community College offers degrees and certificates in Mechanical Technologies. Associate degrees on offer include automotive technology and stationary engineer. They offer many certificates such as HVAC, automotive services, electrical, and welding. The graduation rate at MVCC is 28%.

  • In-District Tuition: $131 per credit hour
  • Student-Faculty Ratio: 20:1

5. Harper College – Palatine – 68 Points

The Manufacturing & Construction field at Harper College features associate’s degrees and professional credential certificate programs as well as apprenticeship opportunities and transfer pathways. Areas of study consist of electronics engineering, maintenance technology, supply chain management, HVAC, manufacturing, and welding.  Harper College’s graduation rate is 34%.

  • In-District Tuition: $133.50 per credit hour
  • Student-Faculty Ratio: 19:1

7. Coyne College – Chicago – 58 Points

Coyne College is a private for-profit school offering associate’s degrees and professional diplomas. Available programs include HVAC-R and electrical construction with two specialization areas: planning or maintenance. The electrical construction program includes apprenticeship. Coyne College has a graduation rate of 54%.

  • In-District Tuition: $693 per credit hour.
  • Student-Faculty Ratio: 19:1

8. Morton College – Cicero – 56 Points

Technical Occupations studies offered at Morton College comprise automotive technology, CAD, and HVAC. They issue associate’s degrees and employment-ready certificates. The graduation rate at Morton College is 19%.

  • In-District Tuition: $108 per credit hour
  • Student-Faculty Ratio: 19:1

8. Oakton Community College – Des Plaines – 56 Points

Oakton Community College issues Associate in Applied Science degrees and certificates through their Manufacturing, Facilities, and Automotive programs. Available studies consist of HVAC-R, automotive, facilities management and engineering, manufacturing, and CAD. OCC has a graduation rate of 22%.

  • In-District Tuition: $136 per credit hour
  • Student-Faculty Ratio: 15:1

10. City Colleges of Chicago: Kennedy-King – Chicago – 49 Points

City Colleges of Chicago’s Kennedy-King campus awards associate’s degrees, basic certificates, and advanced certificates. Students may study HVAC-R, welding, carpentry, construction management, masonry, gas or electrical utility work, or plumbing. The graduation rate at Kennedy-King is 27%.

  • In-District Tuition: $146 per credit hour
  • Student-Faculty Ratio: 18:1

11. Triton College – River Grove – 48 Points

The Career & Technical programs at Triton College feature associate’s degrees and certificates, with some programs offering a combination of both for higher specialization. Available areas of study include architecture, automotive, engineering technology, and renewable energy. Triton College has a 20% graduation rate.

  • In-District Tuition: $133 per credit hour
  • Student-Faculty Ratio: 19:1

12. College of DuPage – Glen Ellyn – 44 Points

The College of DuPage offers Career & Technical degrees and certificates as well as some transfer degrees into 4-year programs into Illinois State University. Career pathways are available in automotive service technology, construction management, HVAC-R, manufacturing technology, and welding. COD’s graduation rate is 25%.

  • In-District Tuition: $138 per credit hour
  • Student-Faculty Ratio: 21:1

13. Universal Technical Institute of Illinois – Lisle – 43 Points

Universal Technical Institute is a private for-profit school offering professional diplomas and certification-ready training. The Lisle campus features three training programs: automotive mechanic training, diesel mechanic training, and welding. While UTI has the largest tuition cost and class size on this list, it also has the highest graduation rate at 66%.

  • In-District Tuition: $1,941 per credit hour
  • Student-Faculty Ratio: 39:1

14. City Colleges of Chicago: Harry S Truman – Chicago – 39 Points

The Harry S Truman campus of City Colleges of Chicago offers many Associate in Engineering Science and Associate of Applied Science degrees. Types of engineering programs include architectural, civil, mechanical, industrial, and systems. Additionally, they offer training in CAD and urban studies. Harry S Truman has a 27% graduation rate.

  • In-District Tuition: $146 per credit hour
  • Student-Faculty Ratio: 23:1

15. South Suburban College – South Holland – 33 Points

South Suburban College provides Applied Science degrees, certificates, and non-credit training through its STEM program. Students may choose to study building code enforcement, building construction technology, CAD, manufacturing & maintenance, and welding. They also offer several engineering programs. SSC’s graduation rate is 19%.

  • In-District Tuition: $152 per credit hour
  • Student-Faculty Ratio: 13:1

15. City Colleges of Chicago: Wilbur Wright – Chicago – 33 Points

City Colleges of Chicago’s Wilbur Wright campus issues degrees and certificates in architecture, construction, and manufacturing. Areas of study within the program consist of architecture, evil engineering, CNC machining and operations, engineering mechanics, and environmental technology. They also offer engineering fields in industrial engineering, materials science, mechanical, and systems engineering. Wilbur Wright has a 26% graduation rate.

  • In-District Tuition: $146 per credit hour
  • Student-Faculty Ratio: 29:1

17. City Colleges of Chicago: Richard J Daley – Chicago – 32 Points

The Richard J Daley campus of City Colleges of Chicago awards AAS and AES degrees, basic certificates, and advanced certificates. Degree programs in engineering include architectural, civil, mechanics, industrial, mechanical, and systems. Applied science programs consist of communications technology and electrical construction. Richard J Daley has a 26% graduation rate.

  • In-District Tuition: $146 per credit hour
  • Student-Faculty Ratio: 30:1

18. Prairie State College – Chicago Heights – 27 Points

Prairie State College offers associate’s degrees and professional training certificates through their Industrial Technology areas of study. Programs involved consist of industrial technology, automotive technology, CAD, HVAC, industrial electrician, manufacturing technology, machinist, and welding. The graduation rate at Prairie State College is 17%. 

  • In-District Tuition: $172 per credit hour
  • Student-Faculty Ratio: 13:1

19. Joliet Junior College – Joliet – 22 Points

The Technical Department at Joliet Junior College awards degrees, certificates, as well as transferable credits for those seeking higher education. They offer many areas of study, with featured programs in process control and instrumentation, automotive service, HVAC-R, integrated systems, and precision machine technology. JJC has a 17% graduation rate.

  • In-District Tuition: $148 per credit hour
  • Student-Faculty Ratio: 19:1

19. City Colleges of Chicago: Harold Washington – Chicago – 22 Points

City Colleges of Chicago’s Harold Washington campus offers AES and AAS degrees as well as basic and advanced certificates. Engineering programs at the school include architectural, civil, mechanics, industrial, materials science, and systems, They also have an applied science agree in architecture. Harold Washington has a graduation rate of 19%.

  • In-District Tuition: $146 per credit hour
  • Student-Faculty Ratio: 25:1

You may be able to earn a trade school degree or certificate online. Check out our program-finding tools to learn more!

Our Ranking Methodology

We gathered a list of 20 schools in the Chicago metro area offering programs in industrial and construction trades. Then we ranked them based on in-district tuition per credit hour, student-faculty ratio (class size), and graduation rate for full-time, first-time students. Tuition rates were gathered directly from each school’s website. Class size and graduation rates were obtained from the National Center for Education Statistics.

We sorted and assigned points to each school across each category. 40% of points went to tuition, 40% went to graduation rate, and 20% went to class size. The maximum possible points was 100.

We strive to be accurate with the data we collect. If you are an employee of a school listed and notice an error, please contact us as soon as possible for corrections to be made.

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