Best Community Colleges in Tennessee
The Tennessee Board of Regents operates 13 community colleges across the state, with each institution providing high-quality and affordable education to a different service area. Community colleges in Tennessee provide a pathway for students to earn an associate degree within two years. Most of the institutions maintain a 100% acceptance rate.
Tennessee's community college system enrolls more than 88,100 students every year, which is more than half of the state's entire annual public higher education population of 140,000. Community colleges in Tennessee usually only require a high school or GED diploma for admission.
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Why Study in Tennessee?
Community colleges in Tennessee offer associate degrees and certificate programs in high-demand industries like business, computer information technology, engineering systems technology, fine arts, hospitality and tourism management, nursing, teaching, and web design.
Tennessee community colleges also offer transfer degrees that can prepare students to transfer to a four-year university or college and earn a bachelor's degree.
Tennessee ranks high in the United States in terms of its economic outlook, placing 12th out of all 50 states. Tennessee's economic activities mostly include community, business, and personal services, with farmland also covering approximately 40% of the state.
Cost of Living
Along with its promising economic outlook, Tennessee is also one of the most affordable places to live in the United States. The 2021 Cost of Living Index places Tennessee in sixth place for the lowest cost of living in the country, with Chattanooga, Johnson City, Clarksville, and Oak Ridge ranking as the most affordable places to live in the state.
With a score of 87.6 in the aggregated benchmark system, Tennessee's cost of living is almost 12 points below the national average of 100. Tennessee's costs for housing, transportation, and food are all well below the national average.
Notably, Tennessee does not charge state income tax.
Cultural and Community Offerings
Tennessee has a rich cultural background, especially in terms of education, religion, and music. There are tons of cultural activities to enjoy in Tennessee, including visits to historic museums like the National Civil Rights Museum, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Titanic Museum Attraction, Johnny Cash Museum and Cafe, and Sun Studio. The state also offers plenty of outdoor adventures, including hiking, camping, cycling, and ziplining.
Tennessee benefits from a friendly climate that features moderately cold winters and warm summers. Tennessee receives less snow than most other states. State residents and visitors can enjoy a variety of activities throughout its four distinct seasons, although Tennessee does receive more rainfall than most U.S. states.
Top Degree Programs in Tennessee
- Best Online Associate in Computer Science Programs
- Best Online Associate in Human Resources Programs
- Best Online Associate in Education Programs
- Best Online Associate in Psychology Programs
- Best Online Associate in Computer Science Programs of 2021
- Best Online Associate in Finance Programs
Tennessee Employment Outlook
U.S. News & World Report also ranked Tennessee as the 13th-best state in the country in terms of job opportunities. Moreover, the state's unemployment rate continues to decrease. In April 2021, Tennessee had an unemployment rate of 5%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Tennessee saw that number drop to 4.4% in September 2021. Physical therapy, healthcare, and marketing are three of the most in-demand fields in Tennessee.
5 Tennessee Jobs in Demand
Educational, Instruction, and Library Occupations
Annual Average Salary in Tennessee (May 2020): $51,090
Job Outlook in the U.S. (2020-2030): 10%
Earning an associate degree at a community college can enable graduates to apply for entry-level jobs as archivists and museum workers, technical education teachers, library technicians and assistants, preschool teachers, and teacher assistants. These jobs are all in-demand throughout Tennessee.
Transportation and Material Moving Occupations
Annual Average Salary in Tennessee (May 2020): $36,300
Job Outlook in the U.S. (2020-2030): 9%
The transportation and material moving field is the second largest industry in the state of Tennessee, making up around 331,750 jobs. Professionals working in transportation and material moving can pursue careers as flight attendants and airfield operations specialists, locomotive and rail yard engineers, and aircraft cargo handling supervisors.
Sales and Related Occupations
Annual Average Salary in Tennessee (May 2020): $39,840
Job Outlook in the U.S. (2020-2030): 4%
Tennessee employs about 262,460 professionals in sales and related occupations, making it the third-most in-demand industry in the state. Entry-level jobs in sales include real estate brokers and sales agents, advertising sales agents, financial services agents, travel agents, and first-line supervisors.
Business and Financial Operations Occupations
Annual Average Salary in Tennessee (May 2020): $66,170
Job Outlook in the U.S. (2020-2030): 8%
The economy of Tennessee continues to grow as does the state's business sector. Completing a relevant associate degree can qualify students for support roles in auditing, budget analysis, financial analysis, human resources, labor relations, market research, event planning, personal finance, purchasing, and training and development.
Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations
Annual Average Salary in Tennessee (May 2020): $71,730
Job Outlook in the U.S. (2020-2030): 16%
There are about 196,770 healthcare jobs in Tennessee. Students in the Volunteer State can pursue two-year associate degrees in healthcare that can lead to entry-level jobs in physical therapy, occupational therapy, dentistry, and family medicine.
Popular Career Paths in Tennessee
- Business Administration
- Sports Medicine
- Public Policy
- Physical Therapy
- Political Science
- Mechanical Engineering
Best Accredited Community Colleges in Tennessee
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Frequently Asked Questions About Community Colleges in Tennessee
Are community colleges worth it?
Yes. Thanks to two-year associate programs that lead to entry-level professional jobs, enrolling in an affordable community college is a good investment. If you're an adult looking for a new start in another field or a working student in need of flexible education, then studying at a community college is a good next step. The best community colleges in Tennessee offer programs in high-demand industries like agriculture and natural resources, architecture, arts and communications, business management, education, finance, health science, hospitality and tourism, information technology, and transportation and logistics.
Who is eligible for a free community college in Tennessee?
Through the Tennessee Promise initiative, Tennessee now offers a free college education to any graduating high school senior in the state. The program provides two years of free tuition for in-state students who apply to community colleges or colleges of applied technology in Tennessee.
How many community colleges are there in Tennessee?
There are 13 community colleges in the Tennessee Board of Regents system, with each institution offering associate degrees, nondegree certificates, and short-term educational pathways that students can finish within 1-2 years.
What is the cheapest college in Tennessee?
Out of the 13 community colleges in Tennessee, the Northeast State Community College is considered the most affordable option in the state. Located in Blountville, Tennessee, Northeast State is a comprehensive two-year community college that started as a vocational-technical school in 1966. Northeast State's in-state students pay approximately $184 per credit and can choose from a wide variety of programs in fields like accounting technology, aviation maintenance technology, construction electricity, customer service and sales, early childhood education, entrepreneurship, and office technology.
How can I get free tuition in Tennessee?
The Tennessee Promise Scholarship grants free tuition and payments for other mandatory fees to in-state students. To apply for the scholarship, prospective recipients must have graduated from a Tennessee high school and lived in the state for at least one year. The program also requires applicants to attend mandatory meetings, actively participate in a mentoring program, and perform a total of eight hours of community service.
Your Guide to Trade School Vs. College
Transferring From Community College to University
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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