Vocational Trade
Schools in Tennessee

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Historically, Tennessee’s economy was centered on the timber and agriculture industries with manufacturing and mining also rising as dominant enterprises. While these industries are still a major source of revenue for the state, with 44 percent of the state’s land dedicated to farmland and mining, the state continues to diversify its economy. Opportunities for graduates of vocational and trade programs are available in these fields, as well as businesses dedicated to healthcare, human services, and education. The following guide outlines vocational education and job opportunities in Tennessee.

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Our data analysis team and higher education experts have worked together to create a scoring system that includes key qualitative and quantitative measures. The data attributes are then weighted based on relevance.

The scoring methodology includes factors such as:

  • Cost & financial aid
  • Number of programs and program offerings
  • Student-teacher ratios
  • Graduation rates
  • Placement and support services offered
  • Academic/Career counseling services
  • Employment services
  • And many others

These factors are assembled for each school and rated using a peer-based-value (PBV) calculation. PBV compares the cost of a program to the cost of other programs with the same (or similar) qualitative score and cost. PBV denotes the overall value or "bang for your buck" of a college or degree program.

Top Tennessee Schools for Vocational & Trade Education

Tennessee provides numerous professional skill development opportunities at its various vocational and trade schools. At these institutions, as well as community and career colleges, students can focus on skills to work in some of the faster growing fields in the state, including healthcare. To narrow down the options, our rankings of accredited Tennessee schools look at tuition, program quality, student-teacher ratio and the like.

Rank School Name Score Tuition & Fees Financial Aid % Total Programs Student-Teacher Ratio Grad Rate Description Additional Benefits: Placement Services Counseling Services Credit for Experience
Roane State Community College
97.07 $$$$$ 7% 9 16:1 17%

At Roane State Community College, students can study in the fields of allied health sciences, nursing, medicine, art, drama, music, business, economics, management, communication, computer science, education, engineering and technology, environmental, legal and criminal justice, science and mathematics, and social science. Most of the fields of study offer varying pathways for completion including transfer degrees for AA and AS students and career certificates. Aside from the main campus in Roane County, there are eight locations in the surrounding counties. Roane State has men’s and women’s basketball teams as well as baseball and softball teams. Job placement for 2013 Roane State graduates was 97 percent and placement in previously reported years was 97-98 percent.

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Chattanooga State Community College
96.22 $$$$$ 9% 21 18:1 8%

Chattanooga State Community College offers a variety of two-year degree options in fields including business; engineering and information technologies; humanities and fine arts; mathematics and sciences; nursing and allied health; and social and behavioral sciences. Each field offers a wide array of specific focus areas such as anthropology, dental hygiene, biology and theater arts. There are 50 career programs, three university parallel degrees, and 20 certificate programs. The college offers specialized paths for high school students: Collegiate High, Early College, SAILS, STEM School and Tech-Track. The college has four campuses in Chattanooga and three sites in surrounding counties. It boasted a 96 percent placement rate and a 96-100 percent Licensure Pass Rate in 2013.

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Southwest Tennessee Community College
94.32 $$$$$ 9% 19 20:1 6%

Students can find more than 100 two-year AA, AS and AAS programs and 23 technical certificates at Southwest Tennessee Community College. Fields of study at the college include, but are not limited to: general education; accounting; architectural engineering; automotive technology; computer information technology; fire science; graphic arts technology; paralegal studies; radiologic technology; teaching (K-6 and Pre K-3); and more. The school has two main campuses and four centers in the Memphis area and boasts a 97 percent job placement rate. Southwest Tennessee Community College also has a rigorous honors program that encourages students to engage in community service.

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Cleveland State Community College
92.64 $$$$$ 21% 4 21:1 13%

At Cleveland State Community College there are degrees offered in several different schools of study. In the humanities and social sciences field, students can specialize in areas such as art, criminal justice, political science, history, sociology and teaching. Math and science offers students specializations in agriculture, natural science, pre-medical technology and pre-computer science. Business and technology offer the most degree and certificate options ranging from office administration to industrial technology. Finally, health, wellness and nursing lets students study exercise science, nursing, and to become an emergency medical technician. Many of the programs offered are a part of the Tennessee Transfer Pathway and the the college also offers an honors program. The total job placement rate across all fields of study for 2013 graduates was 92.77 percent.

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Dyersburg State Community College
92.30 $$$$$ 32% 4 18:1 7%

Students who wish to pursue a bachelor's degree can transfer all credits earned at Dyersburg to any college or university in Tennessee. Those who choose to immediately enter the workforce will be well prepared — 92 percent of DSCC alumni are employed within a year of graduating. Students can choose from dozens of concentrations within seven focus areas. Although the campus does not contain dormitories, the Office of Student Services maintains a list of housing referrals. Students can choose from one of three locations: the Dyersburg campus, the DSCC Jimmy Naifeh Center at Tipton County and the DSCC Gibson County Center located in Trenton.

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Nashville State Community College
91.84 $$$$$ 1% 10 19:1 12%

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Volunteer State Community College
91.76 $$$$$ 10% 12 21:1 16%

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Walters State Community College
91.45 $$$$$ 20% 8 18:1 15%

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Jackson State Community College
90.99 $$$$$ 5% 5 23:1 10%

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Pellissippi State Community College
90.91 $$$$$ 3% 7 20:1 22%

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Northeast State Community College
90.59 $$$$$ 14% 7 21:1 13%

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Remington College-Nashville Campus
90.07 $$$$$ 72% 7 24:1 65%

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William Moore College of Technology
90.03 $$$$$ N/A 1 15:1 88%

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Rank School Name Score Tuition & Fees Financial Aid % Total Programs Student-Teacher Ratio Grad Rate Description Additional Benefits: Placement Services Counseling Services Credit for Experience
Lincoln Memorial University
99.82 $$$$$ 97% 3 13:1 45%

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Hiwassee College
99.61 $$$$$ 88% 1 12:1 N/A

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Southern Adventist University
99.32 $$$$$ 97% 11 14:1 58%

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Remington College-Memphis Campus
99.14 $$$$$ 82% 7 18:1 N/A

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Tennessee State University
99.09 $$$$$ 30% 2 19:1 35%

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Find Vocational & Trade Schools in Tennessee

Several high schools in Tennessee offer career and technical education programs so students can earn a vocational certificate or college credits as they work toward their high school diploma. At the postsecondary level, vocational certificates and associate’s degrees can be earned at technology centers and community colleges. Search now to find programs and schools near you.

Degree Level
School Type

A Quick Look at Trade Schools in Tennessee

According to the U.S. Department of Education, 237,425 students were enrolled in career and technical education programs during the 2013-14 academic year. Of those, 39,762 were enrolled at the postsecondary level.

Tennessee offers vocational programs in all 16 of the national career clusters.

Career and technical education programs are offered at 16 public high schools throughout the state of Tennessee.

Two vocational programs—Tennessee College of Applied Technology’s Computer Information Technology program and Walters State Community College’s Emergency Medical Services program—were recipients of the 2014 NASDCTE Excellence in Action award in their respective categories.

Vocational Certificates and Diplomas in Tennessee In-Depth

Several options are available to those seeking vocational certificates or associate’s degrees in Tennessee, in terms of areas of study and learning institutions offering these programs. The state’s diverse economy means there are job opportunities for applicants of education levels across the board, from trade certificates to advanced degrees. Vocational certificate programs provide individuals with the skills necessary to successfully enter the workforce and are a popular choice in the state, with the number of people earning one-year certificates in Tennessee coming out to six percent higher than the national average.

Distribution of Undergraduate Certificates & Degrees

Credential Tennessee National
<1-year certificate 12.2% 14.7%
1-year certificate 18.8% 12.6%
Associate’s Degree 18.1% 24.7%
Bachelor’s Degree 50.9% 48.0%

Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (2010)

Brightest Trade Career Opportunities in Tennessee

Tennessee’s major industries include manufacturing, mining, transportation and healthcare. Individuals with sub-baccalaureate certificates can pursue successful career paths in these industries with positions as nursing assistants, licensed practical nurses, registered nurses, dental hygienists, commercial truck drivers, and medical laboratory technicians, to name a few.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of trade, transportation, and utilities saw the second highest rate of growth in Tennessee between July and December of 2015. Health and education were also in the top five fastest growing sectors in the state. The optimistic trajectory of these industries and the jobs they provide bodes well for those with secondary and postsecondary certificates in these subjects.

See how these and other growing fields compare in terms of employment opportunities, anticipated growth, and salaries within the state of Tennessee.

Careers with the Most Job Openings in Tennessee

Occupation 2012 Employment Projected Annual Job Openings Percent Growth
Median Annual Wage (Tennessee, 2014) Median Annual Wage (National, 2014)
Postsecondary, Non-Degree (Some College)
Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers 58,030 1,790 15% $38,700 $39,500
Nursing Assistants 31,260 1,030 14% $22,300 $25,100
Licensed Practical Nurses 22,750 990 19% $36,000 $42,500
Teacher Assistants 20,880 770 14% $19,600 $24,400
Medical Assistants 13,440 410 28% $28,000 $30,000
Two-Year Associate’s Degree
Registered Nurses 56,400 1,880 14% $56,400 $66,600
Preschool Teachers 9,850 490 22% $23,8000 $28,100
Medical & Clinical Laboratory Technicians 6,540 310 21% $35,000 $38,400
Paralegals and Legal Assistants 4,820 310 49% $47,900 $48,300
Dental Hygienists 3,460 190 29% $66,200 $71,500

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Career One Stop

At the Center: Vocational Schools & Careers in Nashville

Nashville is best known for its music scene, and this is a major contributor to the city’s economy through the many concerts venues and festivals that draw artists and tourists each year. At the same time, Nashville is becoming a hub for healthcare, banking, and transportation industries. Fortunately, there is no shortage of both public and private education institutions for students seeking vocational or trade certificates or diplomas. For those interested in a career in the entertainment industry, SAE Institute of Technology offers certificates and associate degrees in recording arts technology and entertainment management. Other colleges and trade schools offer more diversified areas of study. The Tennessee College of Applied Technology Nashville and Nashville State Community College are public schools with programs in business administration, agriculture, health services, computer technology, transportation, and more.

Some of the smaller, private colleges include Fortis Institute, National College - Nashville, and Remington College. Students can pursue a career education in areas such as healthcare, mechanic and repair technologies, and business administration at these schools.

Additional Resources

Comprehensive resource for prospective students providing an overview of CTE programs available in Tennessee, conferences, and opportunities for student involvement.

A centralized resource to find and compare higher education institutions in the state – six universities, 13 community colleges, and 27 colleges of applied technologies.

Job seekers can view job listings, access the resource room equipped with computers and staff to assist, obtain career guidance, learn about training opportunities, and take a skills assessment.

An overview of CTE options available to high school students, including programs of study, application to enroll in a CTE program, industry certification options, and latest news and statistics.

Information for job seekers in all fields from administration, health services, legal, agriculture, and more. Resources include job listings, job descriptions, compensation and benefits, and contact information for human resources offices in the state.

Resources for nurses working in Tennessee such as continuing education, advocacy, networking events, and access to the latest industry news.