Q: What is a career or technical college?

A: Technical colleges prepare students for careers in specific skilled trades, applied sciences and technologies. Those who earn a certificate, diploma or degree go on to work in a variety of fields, including construction, automotive technology, aviation maintenance, allied health, cosmetology and early childhood education. As a student at a technical college, you will only take classes that are relevant to your chosen career path and gain hands-on training in an environment similar to a workplace. Technical colleges are singularly focused on preparing students for jobs in the real world and will often assist in job placement.

Q: What are the advantages of pursuing technical education?

A: A certificate, diploma or degree in technical education offers a number of benefits for parents and students alike because the path to it is usually faster and more affordable. Parents appreciate the reduced tuition costs and high job placement rates of accredited institutions. In 2016, the average 4-year college graduate held $37,172 of student debt. In contrast, graduates of technical colleges held about $10,000 of debt.

Students are able to quickly transition into the workforce because the training they receive is hands-on and specific to the industry, minimizing the lag time between graduation and employment.

Job placement rates for technical colleges far outpace those of traditional four-year colleges. For example, for the 2015-2016 academic year, the statewide job placement rate at Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology institutions (accredited by the Council on Educational Occupation) was 86%.

Labor shortages have increased the demand and competition for skilled workers so graduates aren’t struggling to find well-paying jobs with sign-on bonuses. These careers also offer room for growth and the opportunity to move up to managerial positions with salaries that match or exceed those of traditional 4-year degrees.

Q: Why is it important for a technical college to be accredited?

A: Accreditation is a status granted to an educational institution or program that has been found to meet or exceed stated criteria of educational quality and student achievement. When an institution undergoes the accreditation process, it is judged on a number of established standards and criteria, including its facilities, instructors, curriculum, completion rates, job placement rates, and student experiences. Accreditation is then renewed on a routine basis as along as the institution continues to demonstrate compliance with the standards and commitment to continuous improvement.

For students, accreditation offers greater assurance that the college or program in which they are enrolled will provide them with the education in workforce preparation that it promises and that this education will be more widely recognized by others. For example, students attempting to transfer to another college will find that most institutions won’t accept credits from an unaccredited college. Likewise, employer tuition reimbursement programs often require attendance at an accredited institution and potential employers may question a graduate’s job qualifications and skills if their credentials were acquired at a non-accredited institution.

Q: What type of institutions does COE accredit?

A: The Council on Occupational Education accredits post-secondary occupational institutions that offer certificate, diploma, or applied associate degree programs. These institutions include public technical colleges, private career colleges (both for-profit and not-for-profit), federal institutions including Army, Navy, and Department of Defense institutions, Job Corps Centers, Registered Apprenticeship Programs, and ERISA Training Institutes. The Council also accredits institutions that offer distance education programs.

Q: Which institutions have been accredited by COE?

A: The list of institutions accredited by the Council is updated on a monthly basis. See the complete list.