The 20 Fastest Trade Degree Programs in 2024

In a world where higher education often comes with a hefty price tag and several years of commitment, trade degree programs offer a refreshing alternative. These programs, often designed to be completed in a shorter time frame than traditional four-year degrees, provide valuable skills and certifications that can lead to rewarding careers.

We’ve gathered the trade degree programs that swiftly and successfully prepare individuals for the job market. In this essay, we’ll delve into each of these and the doors they can open in terms of career opportunities.

Defining “Fastest” Trade Degree Programs

Trade jobs are often hailed as the “fast lane” to employment and financial stability. Unlike the prolonged academic journeys that many high school graduates embark on, trade professions can be reached through shorter, targeted training, often offered at trade schools or certificate programs.

This streamlined approach means you can transition from high school to a trade school or certificate program and swiftly enter the job market, paving the way for rapid career advancement and income generation.

What makes trade professions even more appealing is their high demand in the job market. Skilled tradespeople are continuously sought after, creating a plethora of job opportunities. These jobs tend to be less vulnerable to outsourcing or automation, providing a strong sense of job security.

Moreover, the skills acquired through trade school or certificate programs are often versatile, allowing individuals to explore entrepreneurial opportunities and run their businesses. In essence, trade jobs are all about hands-on expertise and immediate practicality, offering a speedy path from high school to a fulfilling career where you can reap the rewards of your hard work in record time.

Key Differences Between “Fast” And “Easy” Trade Degree Programs

Trade degree programs are frequently labeled as accelerated because of their effectiveness in swiftly readying individuals for particular careers within a relatively brief time frame. In contrast to conventional four-year bachelor’s degree programs, trade degree programs are generally crafted to concentrate on hands-on, practical instruction tailored to a specific trade or occupation.

This specialized education empowers students to gain the necessary skills and expertise for their selected profession in a shorter duration. As a result, individuals can enter the workforce and start earning income sooner, making trade degree programs a quicker path to career entry.

However, it’s important to note that the perception of trade degree programs as “easy” can be misleading. While these programs may have shorter duration compared to traditional academic degrees, they are not necessarily easier.

Trade degree programs require students to learn and master specific technical skills and often involve physically demanding or technically complex tasks. Students must adhere to safety protocols and demonstrate a high level of precision in their work. So, while trade degree programs may offer a faster route to employment, they still demand dedication, effort, and expertise to excel in the chosen trade.

Fastest Trade Degree Programs - fact

Why Trade Careers?

Students seeking fast trade degree programs are drawn to the promising job growth opportunities these programs offer. They value the hands-on training that hones their technical abilities, making them highly competitive in the job market.

These programs provide diverse career paths, allowing students to pick the profession that aligns with their skills and interests, ultimately offering a swift route to a secure and fulfilling career in trade professions, particularly as an aging workforce creates more job openings in the field.

Accelerated Trade Degree Programs

Accelerated trade programs in the US are revolutionizing career education. These programs provide a fast track to the job market, delivering specialized hands-on training in high-demand fields, from healthcare to construction.

What’s remarkable is that many trade school programs highlight program flexibility, catering to recent high school graduates, career changers, and those seeking practical skills. You can find such career educational programs in a community college, vocational school, and certain online platforms, allowing you to choose the best fit for your needs and schedule.

The appeal of accelerated trade programs in vocational and trade schools lies in their alignment with the soaring demand for skilled workers across various industries. Graduates of these programs are in high demand, ensuring job security and room for job growth. In essence, they offer a cost-effective, efficient route to a rewarding career, turning your passion into a well-paying profession in record time.

The 20 Fastest Trade Programs in 2024


Welding Image - The 20 Fastest Trade Programs In 2023

Welding trade degree programs prepare individuals for a career in welding, cutting, and soldering, where they can earn a median annual wage of $47,540 (as of May 2022). The job outlook between 2022 and 2032 shows a 1% growth rate.

These programs, typically completed in three weeks to 18 months at vocational schools or community colleges, teach various welding techniques like gas metal arc welding, flux core arc welding, and shielded metal arc welding.

Graduates can earn credentials from organizations like the American Welding Society, but licensure requirements may vary by state. It’s a lucrative career path that provides hands-on training for those with a passion for precision and craftsmanship.

Schools that offer Welding:

HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning)

HVAC Image - The 20 Fastest Trade Degree Programs in 2023

An HVAC trade school program leads to one of the highest-paying trade jobs in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) industry. Becoming an HVAC technician typically involves vocational training or apprenticeship, technical education, and licensure requirements vary by location.

Some companies provide training right after high school, while others prefer candidates with certificates or associate degrees (6-24 months), along with 2-5 years of work experience in some cases. This path offers a practical way to secure a well-compensated and stable career.

Schools that offer HVAC Degree programs:

Medical Coding

Medical Coding - The 20 Fastest Trade Degree Programs in 2023

Medical coding trade programs prepare students for roles as medical coders, offering certificates in 9-20 months or two-year associate degrees, with on-the-job training as an option.

Medical coding is one of the highest-paying trade jobs as they are in-demand careers and might require a certificate program. These programs equip students for certifications like Certified Professional Coder, Certified Coding Associate, or Certified Billing and Coding Specialist certifications.

Medical coders are essential for translating patient data and procedures into coding terminology, serving insurance companies and hospitals. Salaries vary by employer or industry, and the profession is set to grow by 8% from 2022 to 2032, making medical coding trade programs a swift path to a rewarding career in healthcare information management. 

Schools that offer Medical Coding Programs:

Dental Hygienist

Dental Hygienist Image -The 20 Fastest Trade Degree Programs in 2023

Dental hygiene trade degree programs, which are offered by trade schools with dental accreditation, prepare students for careers as dental hygienists, a vital role in oral healthcare. These trade school programs typically result in an associate degree and can often be completed in just 2-3 years. Students gain expertise in dental procedures, patient care, and oral hygiene techniques.

The combination of relatively short program duration and strong earning potential makes dental hygiene one of the fastest trade degree programs and rewarding trade jobs in the healthcare field.

Schools that offer Dental Hygienist Programs:

Diesel Mechanic

Diesel Mechanic Image - The 20 Fastest Trade Degree Programs in 2023

Diesel Mechanic trade degree programs prepare students for careers in diesel engine maintenance and repair. These programs typically lead to certificates or diplomas and can often be completed in as little as 6-12 months.

Students are offered a lot of training programs about diesel engine systems, diagnostics, and repair techniques. The combination of short program duration and competitive earning potential makes diesel mechanic trade programs a fast and promising route to a career in vehicle maintenance.

Schools that offer Diesel Mechanic Programs:

Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT)

Emergency Medical Technicans Image - The 20 Fastest Trade Degree Programs in 2023

Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) trade degree programs, required for state licensure, equip students to respond adeptly to medical emergencies through training in medical assessment, emergency procedures, patient transportation, and medical terminology.

These programs, taking 1-2 years, often listed on the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs website, require prospective students to possess a high school diploma or GED along with CPR certification. EMTs are paid handsomely in high-demand regions or specialized roles within the field.

Schools that offer EMT Programs:

Commercial Pilot (Non-Airline)

Commercial Pilot (Non-Airline) Image -The 20 Fastest Trade Degree Programs in 2023

Commercial pilot trade degree programs are designed to prepare individuals for fulfilling careers as commercial airline pilots. Within these programs, students undergo comprehensive training, delving into essential subjects such as aviation principles, flight operations, navigation techniques, and aircraft handling.

What distinguishes these programs is their efficiency, typically taking about 18-24 months to complete due to their focused and intensive nature. Commercial pilots hold pivotal roles in the aviation industry, responsible for safely transporting passengers and cargo to their destinations. Their expertise is highly valued, making them a key part of the aviation workforce.

Schools that offer Commercial Pilot Programs:

Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

Diagnostic Medical Sonographer Image - The 20 Fastest Trade Degree Programs in 2023

Diagnostic medical sonography degree programs train students to operate imaging equipment that uses sound waves to create images of the body’s internal structures, aiding in medical diagnoses. Health professionals in diagnostic medical sonography trade school programs acquire knowledge in anatomy, physiology, patient care, and the technical aspects of sonography.

This program might need a college degree or a bachelor’s degree as they aid in diagnosing the patients. Also, professionals working in this field go through on-the-job training, seminars, and other needed requirements for them to have a skilled trade. These trade school programs are often recognized for their efficiency, as they can be finished in approximately 18-24 months.

Schools that offer Diagnostic Medical Sonography Programs:

Physical Therapy Assistant

Physical Therapy Assistant Image - The 20 Fastest Trade Degree Programs in 2023

Physical therapy assistant degree programs equip students with the skills to assist physical therapists in aiding patients recovering from injuries or illnesses. The curriculum encompasses crucial subjects such as anatomy, therapeutic exercises, rehabilitation techniques, and patient care. These programs are known for their efficiency, often taking just 18 months to 2 years to complete.

Physical therapy assistants are integral in healthcare, playing a vital role in restoring patients’ mobility and quality of life. Their expertise is in high demand across various healthcare settings, including hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and sports rehabilitation centers.

Pursuing a career as a physical therapy assistant offers a rewarding path within the healthcare profession, providing both personal fulfillment and financial stability.

Schools that offer Physical Therapy Assistant Degree Programs:

Nuclear Medicine Technology

Nuclear Medicine Technology Image - The 20 Fastest Trade Degree Programs in 2023

Nuclear medicine technology degree programs, commonly offered at trade schools as associate degree programs, train students in the use of radioactive materials and advanced imaging technology for diagnosing and treating various medical conditions. Within these trade schools, students receive education in radiopharmaceuticals, radiation safety, patient care, and imaging procedures.

These programs are often considered “fast,” typically taking around two years to complete, and often offer financial aid opportunities. This program is ideal for individuals interested in healthcare, technology, and pursuing trade jobs in diagnostic imaging.

Schools that offer Nuclear Medicine Technology Programs:

Avionics Equipment Mechanics

Avionic Equipment Mechanics Image - The 20 Fastest Trade Degree Programs in 2023

Trade school Avionics Equipment Mechanics programs efficiently teach students the essentials of maintaining and repairing aircraft electronics, encompassing navigation and communication systems.

After completing these trade school programs, graduates possess the necessary skills for identifying, fixing, and maintaining aircraft, ensuring top-tier safety in the aviation sector.

Schools that offer Avionics Equipment Mechanics Degree Programs:

Culinary Arts

Culinary Arts Image - The 20 Fastest Trade Degree Programs in 2023

Trade school culinary programs, which typically last 18-24 months, offer aspiring chefs and culinary professionals a condensed yet intensive culinary education, making it a trade job that doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree or extensive formal education.

During this relatively short time frame, students are immersed in a comprehensive curriculum that covers everything from foundational cooking techniques and knife skills to advanced cuisine exploration.

Trade school programs efficiently produce skilled chefs who can contribute to the dynamic and competitive culinary landscape, ensuring the continuous growth and innovation of the hospitality industry and making it a viable career path right after high school.

Schools that offer Culinary Degree Arts Program:

Dental Assisting

Dental Assisting Image - The 20 Fastest Trade Degree Programs in 2023

Dental assistant programs, which typically last 1 to 2 years, provide comprehensive training for individuals interested in trade jobs and seeking to offer essential support to dental professionals.

These trade programs efficiently equip students with a diverse skill set that includes chairside assistance during dental procedures, patient management, dental radiography, infection control protocols, and administrative tasks such as appointment scheduling and record-keeping.

Dental assistant trade jobs provide opportunities for growth in a field where transferring credits from related degree programs can be advantageous, given the favorable industry growth rate.

Schools that offer Dental Assisting Degree Programs:

Pharmacy Technician

Pharmacy Technician Image - The 20 Fastest Trade Degree Programs in 2023

Pharmacy technician programs offer a thorough education that equips students with the skills necessary to excel in the healthcare sector. The curriculum, spanning 1 to 2 years, provides a well-rounded foundation that combines technical proficiency with ethical considerations.

Graduates emerge as valuable members of healthcare teams, ensuring the safe and precise distribution of medications to patients. This role demands precision and diligence, and pharmacy technicians meet these requirements admirably.

It’s a profession that not only offers stability but also the fulfillment of making a meaningful impact on patients’ well-being and the broader healthcare landscape.

Schools that offer Pharmacy Technician Degree Programs:


Cosmetology Image - The 20 Fastest Trade Degree Programs in 2023

Beauty schools provide immersive programs spanning 9-12 months, serving as the gateway to a rewarding career in cosmetology. These programs offer comprehensive training, covering a diverse range of skills encompassing hairstyling, makeup application, nail care, and skincare techniques.

Beyond the artistic aspects, students also receive crucial instruction in hygiene practices, effective client communication, and the principles of salon management.

Upon graduation, individuals emerge fully equipped to boost their client’s self-esteem and confidence through expert beauty services, thus contributing significantly to the thriving beauty and cosmetics industry.

While artistic flair plays a part, their proficiency extends to the broader aspects of client satisfaction and well-being. This profession not only offers creative expression but also the potential for a stable and fulfilling career in the beauty industry.

Schools that offer Cosmetology Degree Programs:

Automotive Technology

Automotive Technology Image - The 20 Fastest Trade Degree Programs in 2023

Automotive technology or mechanics programs, commonly offered by vocational schools and community colleges, typically last 1-2 years, preparing graduates for a skilled trade as they learn to diagnose and repair vehicles comprehensively. These programs encompass various car systems and technologies, providing hands-on training to make students capable automotive technicians.

Upon completion of these vocational programs, graduates become highly sought-after in the automotive industry, given their essential role in guaranteeing vehicle safety and reliability. Automotive technician positions are an appealing career path for individuals holding a high school diploma and aspiring to enter the skilled trade.

Schools that offer Automotive Technology Degree Programs:

Radiologic Technology

Radiologic Technology Image - The 20 Fastest Trade Degree Programs in 2023

Radiologic technology programs equip students with the skills to operate crucial medical imaging equipment, such as X-rays and MRIs, essential for accurate diagnoses. This comprehensive training covers anatomy, patient care, and advanced imaging techniques, typically taking around two years to complete.

Radiologic technologists play a vital role in healthcare, ensuring precise and high-quality imaging for effective diagnosis and treatment. This career path is ideal for those interested in healthcare and technology, offering a quick route to a rewarding profession in medical imaging.

Schools that offer Radiologic Technology Programs:

Medical Assisting

Medical Assisting Image - The 20 Fastest Trade Degree Programs in 2023

Medical assisting degree programs are designed to equip students with essential skills for both administrative and clinical roles in healthcare. These comprehensive programs cover a wide array of topics, such as medical terminology, clinical skills (including patient vital sign monitoring and exam assistance), and office procedures like medical billing and electronic health records management.

They typically offer two formats: diploma programs, often taking 9-12 months, and associate’s degree programs, extending up to two years for a more extensive education.

Medical assisting is a compelling career choice for those seeking a stable and potentially rewarding profession in the healthcare field.

Schools that offer Medical Assisting Programs:

Construction Management

Construction Management Image - The 20 Fastest Trade Degree Programs in 2023

Construction management degree programs are tailored to prepare students for the role of overseeing construction projects, where they become proficient in team management and budget control to ensure efficient project completion.

This comprehensive training encompasses project management strategies, cost estimation techniques, and the art of contract negotiation. These programs, whether pursued at an associate’s or bachelor’s level, typically span 2-4 years, providing a swift entry point into the construction industry.

This field is particularly attractive for experienced construction managers aspiring for leadership positions with substantial earning potential. As you consider your career path, construction management offers a dynamic and rewarding option, combining efficient education with promising career prospects in a thriving industry.

Schools that offer Construction Management Programs:


Plumbing Image - The 20 Fastest Trade Degree Programs in 2023

Plumber degree programs are tailored to equip individuals with the expertise needed to work on intricate piping systems within buildings, specializing in the installation and maintenance of water, gas, and drainage systems. The comprehensive training offered in these programs encompasses crucial aspects such as pipefitting techniques, plumbing code compliance, and rigorous safety practices.

This training pathway usually unfolds throughout 2 to 5 years, facilitated either through apprenticeships or enrollment in technical schools. They possess the knowledge and proficiency required to ensure the proper functioning of essential utilities in residential, commercial, and industrial structures.

Schools that offer Plumbing Programs:


In today’s rapidly evolving job market, fast-track trade degree programs in 2023 serve as a compelling gateway to promising career opportunities. These programs empower individuals with practical skills and valuable certifications in a relatively short time frame, offering a more agile route to career advancement.

Whether your aspirations lie in the healthcare sector, the skilled trades, the dynamic world of hospitality, or other thriving industries, you’ll find a trade degree program tailored to your specific goals and interests.

As you navigate the maze of career choices, you will find a successful, rewarding, and fulfilling future poised to meet the demands of the ever-changing job landscape.

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