Career Colleges curricula focus primarily on technologies used in the world of work. More than 275 programs are offered in Tennessee career colleges. Courses range from the arts to transportation.

Completion documents vary from diplomas and certificates to associates, bachelors, and masters degrees. Many schools are accredited by one of the national or regional accrediting agencies approved by the U. S. Dept. of Education and/or the Secretary of the U. S. Dept of Education. SACS is one of these agencies.

Student placement rates exceed that of state colleges and universities. The average percentage of students placed in their field of training in 2002-2003 was 80.6% (THEC Data).
Many of these schools participate in Federal Title IV financial assistance programs.

Speed of training reduces time necessary to complete required courses for a prescribed curriculum. Schools are equipped to retrain or update skills required for students to advance in their fields.

Enrollments of career colleges are most often nontraditional students who are 25 years or older.


79% of students attending career colleges are employed while in school.

69% of our students are first generation college students.

51% of our students are minorities.

39% of health degrees and/or certifications awarded at 2-year or fewer institutions are conferred at career colleges.

38% of all institutions participating in Title IV student financial assistance programs are career schools or colleges.

30% or our students are single parents.

21% of our students are African American.

19% of our students are Hispanic.

7% of all college students attend a career college or university.

32 is their average age.


The U. S. Census Report finds 25% of four-year college graduates work in jobs that do not require a four-year degree. As a result, one and two-year career colleges and schools are widely recognized as the most direct, quickest, most efficient route to success in many fields.
Education alone just isn’t enough anymore. In today’s workforce, you also need a marketable skill (U.S. Department of Labor).

Students attending accredited career colleges and schools are eligible for financial aid – the same sources of government loans and grants as students attending four-year colleges and universities.

Tennessee has a strong network of more than 300 career colleges and schools that annually prepare graduates for employment in a wide variety of business, medical, technical, and creative career fields.

Many Job Opportunities Exist

Where three out of four jobs now require a technical or technological skill, postsecondary high-skill education is giving students the hands-on experience they need to get good jobs.

High-skill education, as opposed to traditional academic education, provides training in specialized career fields in two years or less so students can enter the job market sooner. Education After High School is Essential.

“With no postsecondary education or training, people often end up with unskilled jobs – generally doing dull, dead-end, or dangerous work.” (Wall Street Journal)

“For those who remain unskilled and uneducated, the future is grim. Even those with a high school education are at risk.” (Economist)

A Gap Exists Between Jobs and Skills

“There are not enough qualified candidates to fill the increased number of skilled jobs created in the next 8 years.”
(Congressional Research Service)

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the fastest growing occupations are projected to be in computer technology and health care fields.


Over 275 programs are offered by Tennessee’s career colleges. Various completion credentials are awarded including certificates, diplomas, associate degrees, bachelor degrees and master degrees. Some of the programs offered include:


For every 100 students who enter high school as freshmen, 55 graduate from high school, 34 enter college, and 14 graduate from college within 6 years.

In 2000 only 23.2% of the Tennessee population held a bachelor’s degree.

[data from “Aligning Resources to Meet State Needs: The Educational Needs Index” presented at the 2003 Annual Meeting of the Southern Governor’s Association].


Prepared by Chmura Economics & Analytics.
Click Here to view 1.7 KB PDF file (right-click and select “save target as”) to download to your computer).

Titled, “The Contributions of Independent Colleges to the Tennessee Economy”, key findings from the report include:

Career colleges provide access to minority students who are under-represented in Tennessee’s public schools. 40.8% of career college students were African American, more than twice the percentage of Tennessee’s public institutions.
Tennessee’s career colleges are a vital component in meeting Tennessee’s workforce need. With less than 13% of the total enrollment, 17% of STEM graduates in Tennessee came from career colleges and schools.
Career college cost the taxpayer less than half of what public colleges cost, per graduate; while career colleges generated $25.0 million in tax revenue for the state government during the 2010-11 academic year.
Taxpayer ROI (return on investment) is 4.5% annually for Tennessee’s career colleges, compared to just 2.5% for public institutions.
In Tennessee, 109 of 205 postsecondary institutions in the 2011-12 academic year were private sector career colleges and universities.