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Which Trade School Programs Take The Least Time?

If you want to start a new career fast, you’ll need to train for it even faster. A quick way to learn about a new line of work is to train at a trade school or community college. There, you will study only your chosen field plus any applicable courses, leaving you career-ready in weeks to months instead of years.

Below, we’ve laid out a dozen in-demand trade careers by approximate time to training completion (based on attending class full time). Though these programs are quick, you will be learning everything you need to be functional at entry-level jobs!

1 Month Programs

CDL-A Truck Driver

3-6 weeks, average pay $46,850 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019)*

Enter the world of professional driving and haul loads locally—or see the United States as you haul goods across America. Truck drivers are always in-demand, and later, you can consider owning your own truck. Find local CDL-A training now.

Emergency Medical Technician

4 weeks, median pay $38,830*

Save lives as an EMT by being among the first to respond to critical situations. Work at the scene or transport patients to the hospital quickly. It’s a rapidly growing field with a defined career path to paramedic. EMT programs near you.

Certified Cardiographic Technician

4-6 weeks on-the-job, average pay $59,600*

Score this line of work by having your high school diploma and getting trained on the job to care for patients with heart conditions. Associate and bachelor degrees are also available; these offer a deeper dive on the material. Additional certifications and training may be required to perform invasive procedures and increase your pay.

Read our medical career guide.

3 Month Programs

Skincare Specialist (Esthetician)

3 months, median pay $38,970*

Take care of clients’ skin through facials, treatments, peels, and other products. This cosmetology career has a projected growth rate that’s much faster than the average for all occupations, per BLS.gov. As you get settled in your new field, you may find you want to expand into nails or hair to increase pay and clientele. Locate an esthetics training program.

Bookkeeper

3 months on-the-job, median pay $42,960*

Keep record of accounts and manage data for clients. You’ll work heavily with financial information: Payroll, receipts, and invoices fall under your domain. There’s also room for growth, where obtaining additional certifications can help you climb the ladder. Read more about becoming a bookkeeper.

6 Month Programs

HVAC Technician

6 months, average pay $51,420*

Solve residential and commercial heating and cooling issues. This career continues to grow in demand, and lots of technicians will go on to start their own business. Find local or online HVAC training.

Welder

7-12 months, average pay $45,190*

Join this field with all its different welding formats, and you’ll be able to shape your career strategically. Want to do some contract projects like rig or underwater welding in your 20-30s, then let the projects come to you later in life? This path will allow you that career flexibility. Locate a welding program near you.

9 Month to 1 Year Programs

Medical Biller or Medical Coder

9 months, median pay $40,350 (Medical Records and Health Information Technicians, BLS)*

Translate patient diagnoses into codes using ICD-10-CM guidelines and work with the insurance company in billing procedures. These are two separate career paths that sometimes are taught together. Locate training for medical billing and medical coding.

Diesel Mechanic

10 months, median pay $50,360*

Fix and maintain diesel vehicles and engines in this needed career. Competition can be hot for jobs—while you can learn by tinkering at home, it’s good to get a formal training program under your belt. The learning investment can pay off: The highest 10% of diesel mechanics earned more than $74,090 in 2018, per BLS.gov. Find diesel mechanic training in your area.

Massage Therapist

10 months, average pay $47,180*

Make an immediate positive impact on the comfort and well-being of your clients. Specialize in the different modalities, or types, of massage that click with you, and your career work can be as fulfilling for you as it is helpful to the clients. Find massage training near you.

Medical Assistant

10 months, average pay $35,720*

Serve people in your community with your medical training, or help administrate the office smoothly. By 2028, this field is projected to grow over 4x faster than the average for all occupations, according to BLS.gov. Some medical assistants continue on to become nurses or hold other positions in the healthcare world. Find a local or online medical assistant training program near you.

Surgical Technologist

12 months, median pay $50,110*

Operating rooms will become your job-site: Prepare patients for surgery and the room for surgery, sterilize equipment, and assist the doctors and nurses. Find surgical technology training.

Some of the above mentioned programs can be taken all-online or part online. Learn about online training options.

* All pay information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2018 updates.

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