The 10 Best Trade Schools in Colorado in 2021

March 15, 2021 | Staff Writers

Trade Schools in Colorado
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Trade schools have always been in existence but up until recently had a tarnished reputation. Emerging as a new opportunity for students to make a successful living and career, trade schools are more popular now than ever before. Boasting a shorter time spent in the classroom and a higher starting salary, trade schools are an excellent option for students who want to enter the workforce prepared and knowledgeable about their chosen field.  

What Is A Trade School?

Trade school is a great way for students to gain hands-on experience and real-world knowledge of their chosen career path. Many of the disciplines offered in trade schools require real industry experience and knowledge to become successful. Unlike a traditional college or university which teaches students to be well-rounded with a wide range of course offerings, trade schools only teach students the necessary skills required to perform the skilled work. Trade schools offer a range of disciplines for students to study including cosmetology, automotive mechanics, welding, architectural rendering, and construction site management.

What Are the Benefits?

The biggest benefit to enrolling in a trade school is the short amount of time spent learning your particular industry or field. Many trade school programs can be completed in two years or less, making them quite desirable for students who want to enter the workforce. Plus, unlike traditional universities, students are only required to learn the necessary skills needed for the job or career path. Students who like to work with their hands typically enjoy trade schools due to their hands-on nature.  

What is the Outlook and Salary?

The outlook for any skilled trade is great, and increasing in demand every year. The outlook for trade school graduates varies greatly depending on the discipline students choose to pursue. While a dental hygienist may expect to make $76,000 per year and see an 11% job growth, a radiation therapist might see an $85,000 per year salary and a 9% job growth. Generally speaking though, a trade is a great way to guarantee job growth and security, and a lucrative career.  

We know just how hard it is to decide which school to attend. After all, your entire future is riding on your decision! For students wishing to enroll in a trade school, we have put together an easy to use list to help you narrow down your potential schools. Ranked in the order we have compiled a list of the top ten trade schools in Colorado. 

The 10 Best Trade Schools in Colorado

1. Morgan Community College – Fort Morgan, Colorado (18 Points)

Located in Fort Morgan, Colorado Morgan Community College offers a range of degrees for students interested in learning a trade or vocation. This school offers more than 80 degree options to give students a wide range of opportunities to hone their skills for the working world. Skilled trade courses include automotive specialties, electromechanical technology, and welding. Students interested in careers outside of the trades will have the opportunity to enroll in nursing programs, education degrees, agriculture, or business and real estate. 

This school also offers the perfect opportunity for students who want to go on to earn a Bachelor’s degree from a traditional school. Students may elect to enroll in a two-year program of their choosing which sets students up for successful completion at a traditional university. This transfer degree is a nice option for students who want to ease into education following high school or who want to save money before enrolling in an expensive four-year program.

  • Tuition: $617 per credit
  • Application Requirements: Complete the free online application form, no test scores required

1. Colorado Mountain College – Glenwood Springs, Colorado (18 Points)

Colorado Mountain College offers several career paths for students to follow. This includes traditional Bachelor’s degrees, Associate’s degrees, and certifications. The school is made of 3 residential campuses and 9 commuter campuses offering convenient locations for students to attend. This is an ideal school for students who wish to work while completing a degree, or who wish to earn additional certifications and licenses to bolster an already promising career.

Students enrolled in Colorado Mountain College will have the opportunity to choose from several fields including nursing, education, and business administration. Certifications are offered in several traditional trades including certificates in fire safety and fire management, geographic information systems, phlebotomy, security, and related ski resort and ski safety certifications. This is ideal for people who want to augment their resumes with additional certifications.

  • Tuition: $465 per credit
  • Application Requirements: Application, Official Transcripts, SAT Test Scores

1. Aims Community College – Greeley, Colorado (18 Points)

Aims Community College is regularly recognized as one of the top community colleges in Colorado. This school offers competitive course offerings for a range of subjects at an affordable price. It is possible to attend the Aims Community College for two years, then transfer your credits to a traditional four-year college or university. This is the perfect way for students to make sure they are interested in their intended field of study, and to save money on a traditional four-year degree.

Students can choose from several different course offerings in the trades including aviation, automotive, fire science, agriculture, construction site management, and welding. This is a great way to allow students to earn a two-year degree and get them on the path to success with a lucrative and rewarding career with just two years of formal education required. 

  • Tuition: $434 per credit
  • Application Requirements: Application, Proof of Age (If younger than 23 must have parental or legal guardian approval), Individual programs may have additional requirements

4. Community College of Aurora – Aurora, Colorado (13 Points)

Located just outside of Denver, Colorado the Community College of Aurora offers students the opportunity to enroll in a rewarding, and affordable, program. This school has a wealth of resources for students including available faculty and staff members dedicated to helping guide and direct students down a fulfilling path. There are several programs and degrees for students to choose from, offering one of the most diverse and varied course curriculums.

Students have the opportunity to select from several different programs including traditional degrees such as business, education, nursing, and mathematics. Students who wish to pursue a degree or certificate in a traditional trade will have the opportunity to select from diesel power mechanics, emergency medical services, police academy, or fire sciences. Advisors and counselors are readily available to help discuss student options and career paths for each offered course of study.

  • Tuition: $622 per credit
  • Application Requirements: Application, Official High School Transcripts, SAT Test Scores, Ability to Speak English

5. Pikes Peak Community College – Colorado Springs, Colorado (10 points)

Offering competitive course offerings and a small enrollment size Pikes Peak Community College is a great opportunity for students to hone their skills and build a future career path. Students will have the opportunity to enroll in several different programs. Upon completing a traditional Associate’s of Arts or Associate’s of Science degree students are guaranteed acceptance into a traditional four-year college or university.

Students who are interested in pursuing traditional trade school disciplines will have a varied course curriculum to choose from. Students may opt to enroll in courses related to automotive, building and construction, CAD design, criminal justice, dental assistance, EMT training, manufacturing, radio production, and veterinary assistant. Students may choose to earn a full degree or a certificate which can help augment an already successful career in any of the above fields.

  • Tuition: $622 per credit
  • Application Requirements: Application, High School Transcripts with minimum 2.0 GPA, SAT Test Scores

6. Red Rocks Community College – Lakewood, Colorado (9 Points)

Red Rocks Community College gives students two great campus locations to attend class. One location is in Lakewood, while the other is located in Arvada. Courses may be offered at just one campus, or both, so it is important to check which location the course is offered at when enrolling. This community college has a broad range of courses for students to select from including traditional programs as well as programs dedicated to the trades.

Students can choose from traditional programs that include accounting, business, and economics, or choose courses that align more with trade schools. These options include building codes, building maintenance, carpentry, criminal justice, culinary arts, dental assisting, esthetician, hairstylist, or mechanical trades. Many programs have the option to earn a certificate or an Associate degree. Advanced course offerings have the option to transfer earned credits to a traditional four-year college for successful completion of a Bachelor’s degree.

  • Tuition: $639 per credit
  • Application Requirements: Application, Official Transcripts

7. Arapahoe Community College – Littleton, Colorado (7 Points)

With a 13:1 student to faculty member ratio, Arapahoe Community College offers students the opportunity to work closely with dedicated faculty and staff ensuring a successful degree or certificate completion. Located on a small campus with a wide range of course offerings this community college has several programs that will appeal to those interested in enrolling in a traditional trade school program.

Available programs for students include architectural drafting, automotive studies, CAD design and drafting, construction management, cosmetology, EMT training, esthetics, residential kitchen and bath design, paramedic services, web design, and sound engineering. Students will be set up to pursue a rewarding career that requires only two years of dedicated instruction from a knowledgeable and caring faculty. 

  • Tuition: $625 per credit
  • Application Requirements: Application, 17 years of age or older, High School degree or GED

8. Colorado Mesa University – Grand Junction, Colorado (6 Points)

Boasting the third lowest tuition in all of Colorado, Colorado Mesa University is a rewarding and exciting school to attend for those interested in a traditional degree or a certificate in a trade. This school offers over 225 programs for students to enroll in which helps to set students up for a successful career upon graduation. Further, this school is known for a small student to faculty ratio which means that you will get to know all of your professors by their first name!

Programs offered at this community college are varied. Students may choose to enroll in construction technology, agriculture, architectural drafting, baking and pastry, welding, veterinary technology, sustainable agriculture, or enter the police academy. The available programs and certificates are designed to prepare students to enter the workforce and have the necessary knowledge and understanding in their particular field of work. Students will have the necessary knowledge to be competitive in the career market. 

  • Tuition: $900 per credit
  • Application Requirements: Application, Application Fee, Official High School Transcripts, SAT Test Scores NOT Required

8. Community College of Denver – Denver, Colorado (6 Points)

The Community College of Denver is a great school for students who require flexibility with their schedules. With several campus locations for students to attend courses in person, and with the option of online study, this is an ideal school for the working students who can’t always attend traditionally offered class times. The Community College of Denver offers a range of courses for students to earn an Associate’s degree or a certificate in their particular field of study. This school also offers the opportunity for students to transfer to a traditional four-year college with earned credits.

Students interested in traditional trade school offerings will be delighted to see a range of departments including building crafts, CAD, criminal justice, dental hygiene, fabrication welding, imaging technologies, nurse aid, phlebotomy, sustainable design, and veterinary technology. Class sizes average 15 students offering intimate settings that can give the perfect learning environment for students.

  • Tuition: $662 per credit
  • Application: Application, Must be at least 17 Years of Age, Applicable Transcripts

10. Front Range Community College – Westminster, Colorado (5 Points)

Located in Westminster, Colorado, Front Range Community College offers students the opportunity to enroll in traditional trade school programs. This school offers convenient in-person learning, as well as online learning making it a flexible option for students trying to work around a busy career.  

Students who are interested in traditional trade school programs will be delighted to see a range of options. These options include architectural engineer and construction technology, automotive technology and engineering, CAD design, HVAC study, interior architectural design, machining, optics technology, and welding. Many of the offered programs can be completed in as little as two years, setting students up for a rewarding and lucrative career in the trades.

  • Tuition: $628 per credit
  • Application Requirements: Application, Social Security Number


The top trade schools in Colorado were ranked based on a point system. Points were awarded to the top trade schools in Colorado in two categories. The first metric used was the cost of tuition per credit. If the tuition was given as a yearly expense, the cost was dived by two semesters, and further by 12 credits per semester. In all cases, the tuition cost for out-of-state students was used. Schools that had a lower cost of tuition per credit were given more points, and thus a more favorable ranking.

The second metric that was used to rank the top trade schools in Colorado was the enrollment class size. It is assumed that schools that have a lower enrollment size have a better learning environment, offering more one-on-one time between students and professors. Schools that had a lower overall enrollment size were given more points, and thus a higher ranking. The points accumulated from both the tuition score and the enrollment score were totaled together, giving a total cumulative score. The school with the most amount of points was ranked the best trade school in Colorado.

If your school has been featured on our list we would love to hear from you. We understand that information is always changing and updating, so please let us know if the information we have listed is out of date. As always, we want to provide the absolute best information to our students who are faced with making the pivotal choice of where to attend school.  

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