Colleges & Trade Schools in Montana

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Colleges and trade schools in Montana offer focused training for a range of reliable and appealing vocations. Post-secondary training can help you prepare for a future in some of the state's major sectors with rising employment rates, including technology, health care, and skilled trades.

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Education & Training in Montana

There are plenty of reasons to get post-secondary training in Montana.

Key Benefits of the Region for College Students

  1. Lower educational costs: The average cost of in-state tuition and fees at public institutions in Montana is lower than that of all but six other states.
  2. More chances for a personalized experience: In Montana, public two-year schools, as well as for-profit institutions, have student-to-instructor ratios that are lower than the U.S. average.
  3. A steady job market: Statistics from the Bureau of Economic Analysis indicate that Montana has had positive job growth every year from 2014 to 2019, placing it in the top 25 states for average yearly growth.

Student Costs in Montana

The amount you pay in educational expenses will depend on a range of variables, including the program you pursue and the school you select. Based on National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) data, these were the average tuition and fees at Montana's four-year institutions in 2018-2019:

  • Public schools: $6,972 (in-state); $24,481 (out-of-state)
  • Private schools: $25,918

Costs at two-year schools may be lower than the amounts given above.

And these were the average room and board costs at Montana schools, based on the same NCES data:

  • Public schools: $9,631
  • Private schools: $9,070


Accreditation for Colleges & Trade Schools in Montana

Independent agencies grant accreditation to universities, colleges, and trade schools that meet their criteria for quality. Accredited schools are evaluated regularly and can have their accreditation withdrawn if they fail to meet an agency's standards.

The U.S. Department of Education recognizes both regional and national accrediting bodies. A school must be accredited by one of these organizations for its students to receive federal financial aid.

Many Montana institutions are regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). Others are nationally accredited through agencies like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) or the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education & Training (ACCET).

Degree-granting schools must be authorized by the Board of Regents before they can legally offer instruction to students in Montana.

Financial Aid for Montana Students

Reach Higher Montana has information on scholarships and tuition waivers that can help reduce the burden of post-secondary expenses for qualifying students.

Plus, Montana students who attend accredited schools may qualify for a variety of grants and scholarships at the federal level. To be considered for aid, you need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year.

FAQs About Being a Student in Montana

Is Montana an affordable state to live in?

Montana Trade Schools, Colleges & UniversitiesMontana's cost of living is below the national average. If you plan to live off-campus, you can expect to pay $590 per month for a studio apartment or $660 for a one-bedroom place, on a median basis. Compare those figures to the national medians of $934 and $953, respectively.

What's the story with transportation?

Montana students who drive their own vehicles can enjoy one of the shortest average commute times in the nation.

Students can also benefit from low costs for public transit. For example, in Billings and Great Falls, students qualify for discounted monthly passes. And in Missoula and Bozeman, all buses are fare-free.

Are there any special career-building opportunities for young people in Montana?

Getting involved in organizations for young professionals in places like Helena and Missoula can be very helpful. Such groups are dedicated to bringing together Montana residents under age 40 who are eager to build their networks and engage with their communities. In some cases, members also receive discounts at local merchants.


Charter College Charter College

Charter College

  • Billings
  • Missoula
  • Medical Assistant

The following online schools accept inquiries from Montana residents.


Rasmussen University Rasmussen University

Rasmussen University

  • Online
  • Business Management
  • Computer Science
  • Criminal Justice - Leadership and Management Specialization
  • Cyber Security
  • Data Analytics
  • Early Childhood Education - Child Development
  • Early Childhood Education - Special Needs
  • Early Childhood Education Leadership
  • Finance
  • Health Information Management
  • Health Sciences
  • Health and Wellness
  • Healthcare Management
  • Human Resources and Organizational Leadership
  • Human Services
  • Information Technology
  • Information Technology Management
  • Marketing
  • Network Systems Administration
  • Software Application Development
  • Supply Chain Management

Pinnacle Career Institute - Online Pinnacle Career Institute - Online

Pinnacle Career Institute - Online

  • Online
  • Medical Assistant
  • Tower Technician
  • Wind Turbine Technician

Grand Canyon University Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University

  • Online
  • Accounting
  • Applied Business Analytics
  • Applied Business Information Systems
  • Applied Entrepreneurship
  • Applied Human Resources Management
  • Applied Management
  • Applied Technology
  • Behavioral Health Science with an Emphasis in
    • Childhood and Adolescence Disorders
    • Family Dynamics
    • Infancy and Early Childhood Studies
    • Substance Use Disorders
    • Trauma
  • Business Administration
  • Business Analytics
  • Business for Secondary Education (Leads to initial teacher licensure)
  • Business Information Systems
  • Communications with an Emphasis in
    • Broadcasting and New Media
    • Interpersonal Communication and Human Relationships
    • Political Campaigns
  • Counseling with an Emphasis in Addiction, Chemical Dependency, and Substance Abuse
  • Cybersecurity
  • Early Childhood (Leads to initial teacher licensure)
  • Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education
  • Educational Studies (Does not lead to initial teacher licensure)
  • Elementary Education
  • Elementary Education with an Emphasis in English as a Second Language
  • Elementary Education with an Emphasis in STEM
  • Elementary Education with an Emphasis in Teaching Reading
  • Elementary Education / Special Education (Dual Major)
  • English for Secondary Education (Leads to initial teacher licensure)
  • Entrepreneurial Studies
  • Finance and Economics
  • Health Care Administration
  • Health Information Management
  • Health Sciences
  • History for Secondary Education (Leads to initial teacher licensure)
  • Homeland Security and Emergency Management
  • Hospitality Management
  • Information Technology
  • Information Technology with an Emphasis in Cybersecurity
  • Mathematics for Secondary Education (Leads to initial teacher licensure)
  • Nursing (Registered Nurse - R.N. to B.S.N)
  • Psychology
  • Psychology with an Emphasis in Forensic Psychology
  • Psychology with an Emphasis in Performance and Sports Psychology
  • Public Health
  • Risk Management
  • Social Media
  • Software Development
  • Sports Management

Full Sail University Full Sail University

Full Sail University

  • Online
  • Audio Production
  • Computer Animation
  • Computer Science
  • Creative Writing
  • Cybersecurity
  • Digital Cinematography
  • Digital Marketing
  • Game Art
  • Game Design
  • Graphic Design
  • Information Technology
  • Media Communications
  • Mobile Development
  • Music Business
  • Music Production
  • Sports Marketing and Media
  • Sportscasting
  • Web Development


Montana Industry Information

In Montana, a wide variety of industries are expanding and generating new opportunities for state residents.

Fastest-Growing Industries

According to employment projections from the Montana Department of Labor & Industry (DLI), these will be the most rapidly expanding industries in the state between 2020 and 2028:

Professional, scientific, and technical services (1.7% per year): This sector encompasses workers in specialties like legal, accounting, design, architectural, advertising, and consulting services.

Construction (1.5% per year): The need to construct, maintain, and repair Montana's buildings, highways, dams, and utility systems will generate more jobs for skilled workers.

Health care (1.3% per year): Tending to the well-being of the state's residents will lead to new employment opportunities for nurses, medical technologists, and other related professionals.

Agriculture (1.2% per year): Additional workers will be needed to keep up with the demand for popular Montana commodities like wheat, barley, canola, and lentils.

Accommodation and food services (1.1%): Montana's hotels, campgrounds, restaurants, and bars are expected to have a greater need for staff in the years ahead.

Careers Related to the Industries Above
Average Annual Wages

  • Food service managers
    $61K
  • Electricians
    $60K
  • Surgical techs
    $51K
  • Architectural drafters
    $49K
  • Agricultural equipment operators
    $34K

Other Key Industries

Several other industries are powering the state economy forward. Below are a few examples, based on a report from the University of Montana's Bureau of Business and Economic Research.

Energy: Oil and coal production contribute close to $200 million to government coffers in Montana. Plus, Montana ranks fifth among hydropower-producing states, and wind energy is on the rise. Montana State University says there is enough potential wind energy to support more than 3,000 permanent jobs by 2030.

Manufacturing: Close to 1,300 companies in Montana are involved in making things like fabricated metal products, electronics, and food and beverage products. Employment in this sector grew by more than 20 percent over seven years, far outpacing the national growth rate of eight percent.

Technology: The high-tech sector in Montana is expanding nine times faster than the state economy overall. And one survey found that the average annual salary among Montana's tech workers was 60 percent higher than the state average.

Tourism: Millions of people come to Montana every year to enjoy the state's amazing natural wonders. Voices of Montana Tourism says travelers spent over $2.7 billion in the state in 2019 alone. This sector directly employs more than 53,000 residents.

Transportation and logistics: The railroad and trucking industries play a big role in Montana. The state had more than 2,600 people working in long-distance trucking in 2017, and thousands more will be needed in the coming years.

Careers Related to the Industries Above
Average Annual Wages

  • Network administrators
    $70K
  • Railroad conductors
    $66K
  • Hotel managers
    $63K
  • Oil & gas service unit operators
    $62K
  • Welders
    $45K

Career Information

Health care, technology, and skilled trades are just a few of the areas where Montana residents can find good career opportunities.

Montana Snapshot

Job Growth
7.7% from 2018 to 2028

Job Openings
Yearly Average

Average Salary
(all occupations)

Population
 

Number of Employers
 

Key Industries

Energy, manufacturing, technology, tourism, transportation and logistics

  • Montana Department of Labor & Industry
  • U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • U.S. Census Bureau
  • Bureau of Business and Economic Research

Fastest-Growing Careers

DLI projections show that the greatest employment growth rates from 2018 to 2028 should occur in the occupations listed below. Yearly wages are based on Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates for Montana.

Information security analysts (39.7%): Devise ways to safeguard computer data and deal with security breaches or other disasters. You will likely need a bachelor's degree.

  • Average yearly wage: $74,250

Helpers to pipelayers, plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters (33.7%): Assist qualified tradesmen by preparing work areas, gathering needed tools, and making minor repairs. Trade school training can help you stand out to employers.

  • Average yearly wage: $35,880

Nurse practitioners (33.3%): Fill a primary role on a health care team that includes diagnosing illnesses and prescribing treatments and medications. You must first become a registered nurse, complete a master's-level program, and pass a certification exam.

  • Average yearly wage: $109,120

Physician assistants (32.9%): Provide a wide range of medical services in collaboration with a licensed doctor. A master's degree and national certification are required before you can be licensed by the Montana Board of Medical Examiners.

  • Average yearly wage: $112,330

Respiratory therapists (30.4%): Examine and treat patients who have difficulty breathing. To earn the necessary license from the Montana Board of Respiratory Care Practitioners, you need to complete an approved associate degree program and become nationally certified.

  • Average yearly wage: $58,670

Good-Paying Careers With the Most Yearly Job Openings

Montana Trade Schools, Colleges & UniversitiesListed below are a few examples of occupations that pay more than the state average wage and have hundreds of open positions across Montana each year. (However, you may need post-secondary training from a trade school or college to qualify for them.) Yearly openings are drawn from DLI projections, and yearly wages are based on BLS estimates.

Registered nurses (748 yearly openings): Evaluate and monitor patients, administer treatments, and provide advice and support. You must be licensed by the Montana Board of Nursing, which requires completing an approved program and passing the NCLEX-RN exam.

  • Average yearly wage: $69,340

Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers (739 yearly openings): Operate big rigs to move cargo over long distances. Earning a commercial driver's license (CDL) in Montana requires getting medical clearance and passing written and road tests.

  • Average yearly wage: $48,110

Carpenters (676 yearly openings): Work with wood to construct structural components like cabinets, walls, and floors. A trade school program can help you master the necessary skills.

  • Average yearly wage: $45,870

General and operations managers (457 yearly openings): Contribute to an organization's success by directing and overseeing its daily functions. These high-level positions generally require a bachelor's degree, along with substantial industry experience.

  • Average yearly wage: $98,980

Operating engineers and other construction equipment operators (436 yearly openings): Control the heavy machines involved in building projects, such as excavators, backhoes, graders, bulldozers, and compactors. Vocational training at a trade school can be beneficial.

  • Average yearly wage: $53,550

Trade School Training Can Lay the Foundation for Your Success

With streamlined programs designed to help students become job-ready, trade schools in Montana offer an excellent way to expand your career potential.