Best Community Colleges in Florida

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by Staff Writers

Published August 19, 2021

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Finding the right school for you can be a challenge. This guide features rankings of accredited institutions to help prospective students find a school that meets their needs and career goals. Each ranking highlights key school facts, such as location, available programs, and admission and graduation requirements.

Community colleges and technical schools differ from four-year colleges and universities in the types of degrees and certifications they offer. For instance, community colleges confer only two-year associate degrees and occupational training certificates and focus on career and technical education. With an associate degree, learners can typically transfer to a four-year college to complete their bachelor’s degree or enter the workforce directly with some practical skills job training. Community colleges in Florida offer the added advantage of affordable tuition, which can save students thousands of dollars over the course of a four-year degree.

www.bestcolleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Top 10 Community Colleges in Florida

#1 Florida Panhandle Technical College Chipley, FL
#2 Pinellas Technical College-St. Petersburg Saint Petersburg, FL
#3 Lorenzo Walker Technical College Naples, FL
#4 Pinellas Technical College-Clearwater Clearwater, FL
#5 Emerald Coast Technical College DeFuniak Springs, FL
#6 Orange Technical College-Westside Campus Winter Garden, FL
#7 Manatee Technical College Bradenton, FL
#8 RIVEROAK Technical College Live Oak, FL
#9 Orange Technical College-Orlando Campus Orlando, FL
#10 Marchman Technical Education Center New Port Richey, FL

Community colleges in Florida prepare graduates for a variety of college and career opportunities. Jobs in Florida pay average annual earnings of $46,010, and the state boasts a 3.3% unemployment rate, a figure below the national average.

Popular industries for certificate- and degree-holders in the Sunshine State include healthcare, business, and education. Florida ranks fourth among all U.S. states for the number of healthcare practitioners and technical positions, and healthcare workers in the state earn mean annual wages of $75,680. Other sectors with high levels of employment in Florida include hospitality/leisure and government.

Cost of living varies across the state. Urban areas such as Orlando, Jacksonville, and Tampa feature costs of living below the national average. Other regions -- including Miami and Sarasota -- are more expensive than the national average.

Best Community Colleges in Florida

Best Community Colleges in Florida

  1. Florida Panhandle Technical College
    Location

    Chipley, FL

    Tuition

    $18884

    Located in the city of Chipley, Florida Panhandle Technical College offers a variety of associate programs and technical training programs. Graduates qualify for careers in fields such as healthcare, corrections, and construction.

    FPTC’s programs range in length from 6-60 weeks. For instance, the school’s 60-week heavy equipment mechanics program trains students to repair and maintain diesel engines. A 45-week licensed practical nurse (LPN) program prepares graduates to enter nursing as an LPN or apply their hours to a degree in nursing, and a 30-week program in digital video production readies learners for entry-level careers in the film and television industry.

    Applicants must submit high school transcripts, college and career readiness test scores, and Florida residency forms. FPTC holds accreditation from the Accrediting Commission of the Council on Occupational Education.

  2. Pinellas Technical College-St. Petersburg
    Location

    Saint Petersburg, FL

    Tuition

    $15502

    As one of two Pinellas Technical College campuses, the St. Petersburg campus serves approximately 5,000 full-time students. The school offers 36 full-time certificate programs, six apprenticeships, and five short courses with day, evening, and online options available.

    PTC’s career and technical education programs prepare students for careers in fields like auto repair, education, medical administration, and construction. Through two- to four-year apprenticeship programs, students can train as firefighters, early childhood educators, or plumbers. Learners can also benefit from PTC's articulation agreements and apply their coursework toward an associate degree.

    PTC students can access a host of resources, including the Pinellas County School District’s digital library. Most PTC programs feature five start dates per year. Applicants must complete an online registration form, pay applicable fees, take any necessary tests, and provide proof of residency.

    PTC holds accreditation through the Council on Occupational Education and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

  3. Lorenzo Walker Technical College
    Location

    Naples, FL

    Tuition

    $5046

    Located in the southwestern coastal city of Naples, Lorenzo Walker Technical College serves students as part of the School Board of Collier County. LWTC offers 25 career and technical programs in areas such as veterinary assisting, drafting, dental assisting, and pharmacy tech.

    Most career programs at LWTC take about one year -- or 2-3 semesters -- to complete. Students gather with their instructors two, three, or five days per week to meet their program’s required clock hours. LWTC also offers evening classes through its community education program. In evening programs, learners may train for jobs -- such as nail technologist or private investigator -- or learn other workplace skills.

    Applicants must complete an online application and consult with a workplace education advisor. LWTC holds accreditation through the Commission of the Council on Occupational Education and the AdvanceED Accreditation Commission.

  4. Pinellas Technical College-Clearwater
    Location

    Clearwater, FL

    Tuition

    $16169

    Nestled in the Tampa/St. Petersburg metro area, Pinellas Technical College-Clearwater offers 24 full-time certificate programs, five apprenticeships, and 10 short courses. Many programs include day, evening, and distance options. Students attending Pinellas County public high schools may also take classes at PTC-Clearwater through dual enrollment.

    Learners can pursue numerous career and technical programs, including automotive services, interior design, culinary arts and hospitality, and web development. Programs typically include a planned sequence of courses that teach workplace skills and may count toward an associate degree. Through two- to four-year apprenticeship programs, students receive hands-on instruction in fields such as machining, building maintenance, or electrical contracting.

    PTC programs start five times per year. Applicants complete an online registration form and provide proof of residency. PTC holds accreditation through the Council on Occupational Education and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Several PTC programs also hold accreditation through professional organizations.

  5. Emerald Coast Technical College
    Location

    DeFuniak Springs, FL

    Tuition

    $8051

    Located in the panhandle community of DeFuniak Springs, Emerald Coast Technical College offers career and technical programs in six areas of study: transportation, information technology, architecture and construction, manufacturing, cosmetology, and nursing/healthcare. ECTC’s programs emphasize work-based learning that prepares learners for the demands of the workplace.

    Graduates are prepared for careers in fields such as automotive service, IT, web development, welding, or practical nursing. Full-time learners generally complete program requirements in as little as 165 clock hours or up to 1,350 hours. Many programs start four times per year and take 1-2 years to complete.

    Applicants must complete an application packet, attend an online orientation, schedule any required tests, and submit transcripts. ECTC students can download Office 365 for free. The school holds accreditation from the Commission of the Council on Occupational Education.

  6. Orange Technical College-Westside Campus
    Location

    Winter Garden, FL

    Tuition

    $17696

    Located near Orlando, the Westside Campus of Orange Technical College offers full- and part-time career preparation programs and apprenticeships. As part of Orange County Public Schools, OTC’s Westside campus serves high school students through tuition-free dual enrollment and traditional students. Some Westside programs also feature online course offerings.

    Through OTC Westside’s career programs, graduates gain eligibility for jobs such as massage therapist, HVAC technician, veterinary assistant, or welder. Career programs can last as little as two months or as long as more than one year, while employer-sponsored apprenticeships can last up to five years. Students may earn career certificates and college credits and gain valuable work experience. Some programs may be eligible for federal financial aid or GED preparation.

    Prospective students should submit a completed application on campus. All OTC campuses hold accreditation through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the Council on Occupational Education.

  7. Manatee Technical College
    Location

    Bradenton, FL

    Tuition

    $5953

    Located south of Tampa-St. Petersburg in Bradenton, Manatee Technical College offers career and technical programs that students can complete in 6-12 months. The school’s flexible programs include full- and part-time options, day and evening classes, and express classes that meet evenings and weekends. Online classes typically start each month and last six weeks.

    Program areas at Manatee Tech include architecture and construction, manufacturing, digital technology, business administration, health sciences, and hospitality/tourism. Students can also train for careers as firefighters, paramedics, or personal trainers. The school offers an additional express class in optometry.

    Manatee Tech features more than 80 self-paced, noncredit online career training programs, such as wind energy professional, certified paralegal, and digital marketing specialist. Students can pursue these six- to 12-month programs through open enrollment.

    Manatee Tech holds accreditation through the Commission on Occupational Education.

  8. RIVEROAK Technical College
    Location

    Live Oak, FL

    Tuition

    $15101

    Founded in 1966, RIVEROAK Technical College offers technical training and education through Suwannee County Schools. The school features a 20-acre campus located in Live Oak.

    RTC’s 19 career and technical programs train students for careers in automotive services, masonry, cosmetology, early childhood education, and practical nursing, among other fields. Programs range in length from a few months to 1-2 years. Additionally, learners can complete a pharmacy technician or digital design program in just one year.

    While many programs require full-time enrollment, some offer part-time options. RTC also offers online career training programs that start each month as well as community education classes.

    Interested students must complete an application and schedule form and meet with student services. Check program descriptions for prerequisites. RTC holds accreditation through the Council on Occupational Education.

  9. Orange Technical College-Orlando Campus
    Location

    Orlando, FL

    Tuition

    $12608

    Located in downtown Orlando, Orange Technical College’s Orlando campus opened in 1981 and now offers career training programs and a two-year childcare apprenticeship. Operating under the authority of Orange County Public Schools, OTC-Orlando provides courses for high school students through tuition-free dual enrollment. The school also offers flexible and online courses for other learners.

    Through OTC-Orlando’s 18 career training certificate programs and two licensure programs, students prepare for careers in the arts, communications, business, education, and health services. Career training programs last anywhere from a few months to more than a year. Learners may take courses such as fashion technology and production, accounting, surgical technology, and baking.

    Prospective students should bring a completed application to campus. Those who qualify may receive federal financial aid for some programs. OTC holds accreditation through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the Council on Occupational Education.

  10. Marchman Technical Education Center
    Location

    New Port Richey, FL

    Tuition

    $6306

    Located outside Tampa-St.Petersburg in New Port Richey, Marchman Technical Education Center offers career certificate programs to high school graduates. MTC also provides dual-enrollment courses to students at Wendell Krinn Technical High School, including classes in commercial arts, welding, culinary arts, and electricity.

    Career training programs range from 600 hours to 1,800 hours and begin in August and January. Program areas include the service industry, information technology, construction, manufacturing, and automotive technology. While most programs run during the day, MTC offers some evening programs, such as cosmetology and electricity. Students must maintain a 2.0 GPA, and some programs translate into college credit toward an associate degree.

    Students interested in a career training program must complete the career certificate program application available online. MTC holds accreditation from the Council on Occupational Education.

Click here to see the best colleges in Florida.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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