Best Trade Schools inIowa City

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If you’re a recent high school graduate who’s contemplating the idea of starting a career in skilled trades, cosmetology, construction, or healthcare or an adult who wants to switch careers or learn a new skill, this page is for you.

Here we have compiled information about the top trade schools available in Iowa City.

Most of the programs included in our list are less than two years in duration and focus mostly on hands-on training and real-world experience that helps prepare students for employment or licensure immediately after graduation.


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1Kirkwood Community College

About the School

Kirkwood Community College offers two-year degrees as well as one-year certificates and diploma programs.

Their Iowa City campus combines the big-university vibe with an individualized approach to each student’s success.

The classes are kept small and students learn from academic experts.

Kirkwood offers programs that prepare students for careers in agriculture, arts, and humanities, business and technology, communication, hospitality, industrial technology, science, math, healthcare, as well as social sciences.

Students can take classes for many Applied Science programs available at the college’s main campus but some pathways can be fully completed in Iowa City.

Tuition for Iowa residents is $186 per credit hour.

Out-of-state students pay $249 per credit hour, while international students pay $372 per credit hour.

Financial aid and scholarships are available.

Total costs vary depending on the number of credit hours included in each program.

Kirkwood Community College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Courses Offered

The following Applied Science programs are available in Iowa City:

  • Liberal Arts Associate of Arts
  • Liberal Arts Associate of Science
  • Business Administration Associate of Applied Science

Contact Information


2PCI Academy

About the School

Training programs for future beauty professionals are available at PCI Academy.

The school has two campuses in Iowa: one in Ames and one in Iowa City.

Tuition costs vary from less than $4,000 to more than $25,000 depending on the program.

The Cosmetology course costs $26,988 while the Nail Technology program costs $3,866.

The application fee is $100.

With connections with over 4000 Summit salons and spas over the nation, PCI offers job placement assistance to its students.

Graduates also receive free continuing education classes for life.

The school gives students the opportunity of choosing between flexible schedules with 18 and 24-hours per week options.

One-on-one monthly coaching helps students track and achieve their professional and personal goals.

Courses Offered

The school’s catalog includes the following courses:

  • Cosmetology- a 2100-hour program with courses on hair, skin, and nails related techniques as well as the business aspects of this profession.
  • Esthetics- a program that includes business classes, skin repair, hair removal, makeup artistry, and eyelashes courses are included in this 600-hour program.
  • Massage Therapy- a 600-hour curriculum that covers topics on massage theory, body repair as well as business skills.
  • Nail Tech- a curriculum that includes business courses with nail artistry, natural nail services, and specialty services training.

Contact Information


3Crossing School of Business & Entrepreneurship

About the School

Crossing School of Business & Entrepreneurship offers academic, job training, and faith-based character education for struggling high-school students.

Their Entrepreneurial Training Center uses a hands-on educational approach through student-run micro-businesses.

Students spend half of the day in the classroom and the other half learning relevant job skills while working with a mentor on the floor of the business.

Those interested can enroll on-campus or online.

To get started, applicants need:

  • Birth Certificate
  • Immunization Records
  • Proof of Income
  • Current Transcript
  • Individual Education Plan

The registration fee is $25.

Courses Offered

The following job-training programs are available at the school:

  • Micro-Businesses- student-run companies that offer products and services to the community.

Through this program, students learn how to write a business plan, how to perform business operations, and how to market and sell their products

  • Satellites- a model designed in partnership with businesses to provide future workers with a hands-on approach to learning.
  • Apprenticeships- students enrolled in apprenticeships work for at least nine weeks in a professional work environment in their area of interest.

Contact Information


4La James International College

About the School

La James International College has been providing beauty training for almost 50 years.

Their programs are available at five campuses across Iowa and focus on teaching the latest techniques as well as the business aspects of the cosmetology professions.

The school’s Cedar Fall campus offers education for future Cosmetologists, Estheticians, Massage Therapists, and Nail Technologists.

Tuition varies depending on the program, with costs ranging from 4,600 for the Nail Technologist program to $18,510 for the Cosmetology program.

La James International College is accredited by the National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences.

Courses Offered

The following programs are available in Cedar Falls:

  • Cosmetology- students enrolled in the 2,100-hour program attend a five-day schedule for face-to-face instruction.

Cosmetology students work hands-on while interacting with clients in a true salon and spa environment.

  • Esthetics- a program that covers 750 hours and includes a variety of skincare and spa techniques that students learn hands-on.
  • Massage Therapy- a 900-hour program that focuses on anatomy, physiology, theory, practice, and covers a variety of massage techniques that students get to practice on real clients.
  • Nail Technology- a 350-hour curriculum that focuses on teaching the basics of manicuring and pedicuring while also building hands-on skills.

Contact Information

  • Address: 4444 1st Ave NE, Suite 410 & 12, Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52402
  • Phone: 888.880.2106
  • Website: https://ljic.edu

5Dancing Prairie Massage Therapy College and Pain Relief Center

About the School

A 750-hour training program is available at the Dancing Prairie Massage Therapy College and Pain Relief Center for those who want to start a career as massage therapists.

The school’s curriculum is approved by the Iowa Board of Massage Therapy.

Dancing Prairie is approved to provide education by the Iowa College Student Aid Commission.

According to the school’s website, all their graduates have passed the MBLEx exam on the first try.

Courses Offered

The curriculum covers 750 hours of training in total, which includes classes in:

  • Introduction to Massage Therapy- with topics regarding the history, the benefits and contraindications, equipment, laws and regulations, and more
  • Anatomy, Physiology, and Pathology
  • Western Massage Theory and Practice- This course teaches draping, palpation, and movement, communicating with clients, and more
  • Introduction to Eastern Theory and Practice
  • Massage for Specific Conditions and Populations- students learn about postural analysis, prenatal massage, child massage, research, and other related topics
  • Introduction- Integrative Therapies- a course with topics on active isolated stretching, myofascial massage, reflexology, yoga, and energy therapy.
  • Professional Ethics- therapeutic relations, confidentiality, peer consultations, and medical consultations
  • Career Development- here students learn about assertive communication, conflict resolution, and career planning.

Contact Information


6The University of Iowa

About the School

The University of Iowa provides a variety of degree programs and certificates.

The student-to-faculty ratio at Iowa University is 15:1.

Programs are available in a variety of areas of study, including:

  • Business, economics, and management
  • Education
  • Engineering and computing
  • Health sciences
  • Language, culture, and society
  • Life and natural sciences
  • Math and quantitative sciences
  • Paraprofessional programs
  • Social sciences and policy
  • Visual and performing arts
  • Writing, communications, literature, and media.

In total, Iowa University offers more than 200 areas of study.

Students can apply through the school’s website.

The application fee is $40.

Students need to have their ACT or SAT scores sent by the test facility.

Admission requirements vary depending on the college where you want to apply.

Deadlines also vary depending on the area of study.

Students are required to meet with an academic adviser before registering for classes.

Tuition costs vary depending on the program and the student’s state of residence.

The estimated cost for the 2022-2023 year for Iowa students who live on campus is $21,418, while out-of-state students pay $43,381.

Contact Information

  • Address: 108 Calvin Hall. Iowa City, Iowa 52242
  • Phone: 319-335-3500
  • Website: https://uiowa.edu

7Fab Lab Iowa City

About the School

Fab Lab Iowa City offers a variety of classes and workshops for those who want to learn how to print 3D, how to make beautiful decorations and jewelry.

Courses Offered

  • Ceramic Workshop: Wheel Throwing- a four-week course that introduces students to wheel-thrown pottery.
  • Students work with a stoneware clay each week and get to hone new techniques.
  • Ceramics- a four-week after school program
  • Laser Cut Lamp Workshop- participants in this class design a four-sided table lamp using simple-to-use software.
  • 3D Printing- A four-week workshop that teaches students how to use Fusion 360 3D CAD software, how to run 3D images through Cura- a 3D slicer program that is used for printing- to create the code needed for printing.
  • The 3D printing class also covers the parts of a 3D printer and how they work, how to purchase filament, and the differences between different types of filaments.
  • Stained Glass Class- a one-day class that costs $30 and lasts three hours
  • Copper Bracelet Class- a $60 class for those who want to learn how to make a copper bracelet
  • Wire Crochet Earrings- a two-hour class that costs $60

Contact Information

  • Address: 870 S Capitol Street, Iowa City, IA 52240
  • Phone: 319.382.6167
  • Website: https://icfablab.org

8Carlson College of Massage Therapy

About the School

Carlson College of Massage Therapy offers training for those who want to prepare for the licensing exam and become massage therapists.

Full-time students can graduate from this 775-hour program in as few as six months while part-time students graduate in under a year.

According to the school’s website, in 2021 all Carlson College graduates passed the MBLEx.

MBLEx, the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination, is the licensure test for massage therapists.

Carlson College of Massage Therapy is the first school in Iowa that has obtained Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation.

Tuition for the massage therapy program is $9,000 for the full-time program and $8,500 for the part-time program.

Additional costs include a $1,500 equipment fee, $750 for supplies, $400 for equipment, and $350 in administrative fees.

Financial aid is available for students who qualify.

Some students at the Carlson College of Massage Therapy receive $5,500 in grant aid.

Students also have to purchase four sets of twin sheets, bath towels, and a uniform.

Courses Offered

The school’s massage therapy program covers topics such as:

  • Anatomy & Physiology
  • Swedish Massage
  • Pathology
  • History of Massage
  • Sports Massage
  • Intro to Eastern Theory
  • Benefits and Contraindications
  • Reflexology
  • Wellness
  • Terms of Massage
  • Hand care/Sanitization
  • Hydrotherapy
  • And much more

Contact Information


9Hawkeye Community College

About the School

Hawkeye Community College focuses on providing quality, affordable training for the community.

According to the college’s website, Hawkeye awards almost 1,500 diplomas and degrees annually.

The college also offers students the opportunity to earn college credit while in high school.

Courses Offered

Hawkeye Community College offers career and technical programs in fields such as:

  • Agriculture and Natural Resources
  • Arts
  • Business
  • Health
  • Industrial and Engineering Technology
  • Power Technology
  • Safety Services

Among the programs available at the college, we mention:

  • Veterinary Assisting- a Diploma program that includes 41 credits.
  • Landscape and Turf Management- a 41-credits Diploma program that prepares students for careers as sports turf managers, lawn care technicians, golf course superintendents, and other related professions.
  • Graphic Design- an Associate of Applied Arts program that includes 63 credits.
  • Bookkeeping Specialist Short-Term Training- a Certificate program
  • Hospitality Management- a 65-credit program that leads to an Associate of Applied Science degree
  • Certified Nursing Assistant Apprenticeship
  • Nursing- Associate Degree in Nursing, Practical Nursing Diploma, and Certified Nursing Assistant programs are available
  • And many more

Contact Information


10Capri College

About the School

Capri College offers training programs for students who want to learn hands-on and prepare for careers as hairstylists, estheticians, nail technologists, or massage therapists.

With 55 years of experience, Capri College is always adding new techniques and teaching methods.

Total tuition costs vary depending on the program.

The Cosmetology program costs $19,945 in total, while the Nail Technology program costs $4,350.

Capri College is accredited by the Accrediting Commission on Career Schools and Colleges.

Courses Offered

The following courses are available at Capri College:

  • Cosmetology- a program that can be completed in 68 weeks and covers haircutting, razor cutting, perming, makeup, manicures, pedicures, artificial nails, skincare, hair removal, hair extensions, and many other cosmetology-related skills
  • Esthetics- a 33-week course that runs 22-24 hours per week and teaches makeup application, body bronzing, body wraps, hair removal, skin treatments, among other skills.
  • Massage Therapy- a 30-week program that covers Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, prenatal massage, Thai massage, sports massage, anatomy and physiology, aromatherapy, reflexology, hot stones, and other spa treatments.
  • Nail Technology- this 16-week program includes skills such as manicures, pedicures, gel nails, acrylics, artificial nails, wraps, fills, among other topics.

Contact Information


Final Thoughts

If you live in Iowa City and you’re contemplating the idea of enrolling in a vocational program, we invite you to do thorough research and apply for the program that best meets your needs and professional aspirations.

Take your time and gather all the information that is relevant to your decision-making process.


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