Best Community Colleges in Oregon
A guide to educational opportunities offered at the best community colleges in Oregon and career paths that await graduates.
Oregon's community colleges offer more than just a basic two-year associate degree. The state's Office of Community Colleges and Workforce Development focuses on higher education on many levels. That includes training in basic skills for "adulting," technical training, and affordable strategies for budget-conscious learners.
Whether a student is strained for time or money, the community colleges in Oregon offer options to fit anyone's schedule or budget. Not only will Oregon's best community colleges get you ready to pursue a job, they'll also help you find a career where you thrive.
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Why Study in Oregon?
The state of Oregon lays out 17 career clusters summarizing the top education options at the community or technical college level. Students can explore educational opportunities that prepare them for careers in areas like agriculture, food, and natural resources; arts, information, and communications; business and management; health sciences; human resources; and industrial or engineering systems.
Students can pursue one of these 17 clusters at one of the 17 community colleges in the state. The schools are located in major Oregon cities and smaller towns, including Portland, Bend, Astoria, Salem, Roseburg, Eugene, and Tillamook.
In a recent executive summary, the state of Oregon writes "the economic outlook is bright." People put more money aside during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the state received impactful federal funding.
The state projects 100,000 additional jobs by 2022, barring any hiring or staffing challenges. The state also says that as of September 2021 there are a record amount of jobs posted. Wages increased more than 10% in the last 18 months throughout Oregon.
Cost of Living
The cost of living in Oregon varies greatly depending on where a person resides in Oregon. Overall, the state ranks among the more expensive states in which to live. If the nationwide index is 100, Oregon comes in at 127. Only five states have higher costs of living.
Housing is the most expensive cost. The state admits housing instability "continues to be a major challenge."
Cultural and Community Offerings
Oregon's major metropolitan area of Portland offers a range of cultural activities, cuisine options, and local breweries. The city is known for its rich music scene and has several historical theaters. Portland hosts a long-running H.P. Lovecraft film festival and is the setting for the popular sketch comedy show "Portlandia."
The Cascades divide the state, resulting in different climates for west and east of the mountain range. West of the Cascades receives more rainfall throughout the year. The Pacific Ocean helps keep temperatures mild.
In contrast, the Cascade mountains keep moisture at bay from the eastern part of the state, leading to a much drier climate. For those who don't like thunderstorms, Oregon might be a top destination to call home. The National Centers for Environmental Information says the state rarely gets storms.
Top Degree Programs in Oregon
Featured Online Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
Oregon Employment Outlook
The state of Oregon expects to regain all the jobs lost during the pandemic by the summer of 2022. In an executive summary offered in September 2021, the state recognized that increased consumer spending is needed for this forecast to hold true. The state repeatedly says that household income is strong, even higher than before the pandemic.
The state says all industries are expected to see increased job openings, with leisure and hospitality getting a big boost after being hit hard by the pandemic.
5 In Demand Oregon Jobs
- Annual Average Salary: $34,190
- Projected Job Growth, 2020-30: 38%
To become a preschool teacher in Oregon, you typically will not need a bachelor's degree; an associate degree is sufficient. You will also need to fulfill state licensing requirements. Preschool professionals can get a job in Head Start programs, private organizations, and daycares.
- Annual Average Salary: $111,070
- Projected Job Growth, 2020-30: 17%
This position oversees construction projects related to buildings, homes, and roads. These professionals need to be trained in all the phases of a construction project. Job candidates will need a license. A construction training partnership program between Central Oregon Community College, Facebook, and Fortis Construction gives students hands-on training to build two new Facebook data centers.
- Annual Average Salary: $58,370
- Projected Job Growth, 2020-30: 12%
Graphic designers create visual concepts by hand, computer, or other technologies. One in five graphic designers chose to be self-employed. Associate degrees in graphic design can be obtained at several of Oregon's community colleges. Major brands in the state requiring graphic artist work include Nike, Harry & David, Dutch Bros. Coffee, and Columbia Sportswear.
- Annual Average Salary: $58,780
- Projected Job Growth, 2020-30: 10%
Paralegals assist lawyers throughout trials and during pre-trial preparations. These professionals may need to handle tight legal deadlines. Applicants will need an associate degree or certificate in paralegal studies. Portland Community College offers a certificate and degree approved by the American Bar Association.
Electrical Engineering Technicians
- Annual Average Salary: $67,410
- Projected Job Growth, 2020-30: 10%
Students in this field learn how to maintain equipment that runs on electricity. Generally, these technicians work with electrical engineers in a team setting on projects. Candidates will also need to get licensed by the state. Associate degrees in this field are available at several community colleges in Oregon.
Best Accredited Community Colleges in Oregon
Rankings compiled by the BestColleges Ranking Team
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Frequently Asked Questions About Community Colleges in Oregon
Are community colleges worth it?
Community colleges offer lower tuition than traditional four-year schools while still preparing students for in-demand jobs. Attending a community college is often worth it if you are pursuing a career that only requires an associate degree or a professional certification, or if you plan on transferring from community college to a four-year degree program to save money.
Does Oregon have good community colleges?
Yes, Oregon has good accredited and affordable community colleges. Oregon's community colleges are built around preparing students for either higher education or to fill a job in demand. They also cater to adults looking for a career change.
Is community college free in Oregon?
Students can apply for an Oregon Promise grant if they have lived in Oregon a year prior and have a 2.5 high school GPA or a 145 on the GED test. Students may be able to find scholarships, grants, or other financial aid opportunities online or through their local community college.
How many community colleges are there in Oregon?
Oregon is home to 17 community colleges. These colleges can be found across the state in cities and smaller towns alike.
Feature Image: David Papazian / The Image Bank / Getty Images
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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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