Our Top 15 Trade Schools in North Carolina in 2021 - Best Value Schools

Our Top 15 Trade Schools in North Carolina in 2021

February 13, 2021 | Staff Writers

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Want to enter a technical career and looking for a cheaper option than studying at a four-year university?  Check out our list of 15 affordable trade schools in North Carolina.  

What is a Trade School?

Trade schools offer one- to two-year programs that teach students specific technical skills in areas ranging from auto repair to radiology to accounting.  Students can enter the workforce directly or pursue a higher degree after graduating from a trade school.  Trade and technical schools emphasize practical experience through workshops and apprenticeships, rather than a focus on classroom learning.  

What is the North Carolina Community College System?

North Carolina has a network of 58 public, two-year institutions which includes all the schools on our list.  All members of the North Carolina Community College System charge tuition at a rate of $268 per credit-hour for out-of-state students and $76 for in-state students.  They also participate in a Comprehensive Articulation Agreement, which simplifies transfers between community colleges and participating two- and four-year schools.  

What are the Best Trade Schools in NC?

We’ve compiled a list of North Carolina trade schools. We ranked these colleges based on their tuition (lowest is best) and total enrollment (highest is best).  

Our Top 15 Trade Schools in North Carolina

1. Pitt Community College – Winterville, North Carolina (30 points)

Popular programs at Pitt Community College include Early Childhood Education and Medical Office Management.  Overall, Pitt is the sixth-largest community college in North Carolina, offering over 60 degrees and certificates.  

  • Tuition:  $268 per credit
  • Total enrollment:  8185

2. Forsyth Technical Community College – Winston-Salem, North Carolina (29 points)

Students at Forsyth Tech Community College can earn 70 different Associate in Applied Science degrees, with 24 programs available entirely online.  The school has a 1:11 faculty-student ratio.  Popular degrees include Liberal Arts and Humanities, Nursing, and Biotechnology.  Through Forsyth Tech’s Learn and Earn Apprenticeship Program, students can earn a degree in advanced manufacturing industry while receiving paid work experience.  

  • Tuition:  $268 per credit
  • Total enrollment:  7779

3. Piedmont Community College – Roxboro / Yanceyville, North Carolina (28 points)

Piedmont Community College offers small class sizes with a student-faculty ratio of 8:1.  Technical programs include Mechanics and Repair, Certified Logistics Technician, and Truck Driver.   

  • Tuition:  $268 per credit
  • Total enrollment:  5304

4. Central Carolina Community College – Pittsboro / Lillington / Sanford, North Carolina (27 points)

Central Carolina Community College offers Associate in Arts, Associate in Engineering, Associate in Science, and Associate in Applied Science degrees as well as job training and certificate programs.  More than 130 college-level programs are available.  

  • Tuition:  $268 per credit
  • Total enrollment:  5190

5. Johnston Community College – Smithfield, North Carolina (26 points)

Popular programs at Johnston Community College include Liberal Arts and Humanities, Truck, Bus, and Commercial Vehicle Operation, and Welding.  Johnston has a 48% graduation rate.  

  • Tuition:  $268 per credit
  • Total enrollment:  4047

6. Sandhills Community College – Southern Pines, North Carolina (25 points)

Sandhills Community College is ranked in the top five community colleges in the state by Niche.com.  The school has a 1:13 faculty-student ratio and offers more than 100 different programs.  

  • Tuition:  $268 per credit
  • Total enrollment:  4018

7. Craven Community College – New Bern / Havelock, North Carolina (24 points)

Craven Community College offers a variety of degree and certificate programs at two campuses and online.  Students have access to thriving campus life at one of the top community colleges in the state.  Popular programs include Information Technology and Management.  

  • Tuition:  $268 per credit
  • Total enrollment:  3003

8. Wilkes Community College – Wilkesboro / West Jefferson / Sparta, North Carolina (23 points)

Popular trade programs at Wilkes Community College include Mechanic and Repair Technologies and Architectural Engineering.  The institution has a 1:11 faculty-student ratio.  

  • Tuition:  $268 per credit
  • Total enrollment:  2601

9. Cleveland Community College – Shelby, North Carolina (22 points)

Cleveland Community College offers programs including Welding, Computer Integrated Machining, Emergency Medical Service, and Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Technology.  The school has a 1:11 faculty-student ratio.  Cleveland CC offers support services including group tutoring and provides classroom instruction that accompanies apprenticeships with local companies.  

  • Tuition:  $268 per credit
  • Total enrollment:  2551

10. Stanly Community College – Albemarle / Locust, North Carolina (21 points)

Stanly Community College has a 48% graduation rate and is ranked as the top community college in North Carolina by Niche.com.  Programs include Fire and Rescue, CNC Machinist, and Heavy Equipment Operations.  

  • Tuition:  $268 per credit
  • Total enrollment:  2545

11. Southwestern Community College – Webster, North Carolina (20 points)

Southwestern Community College has a 1:13 faculty-student ratio.  Trade programs range from Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Technology to Mechatronics Engineering Technology.  

  • Tuition:  $268 per credit
  • Total enrollment:  2366

12. Isothermal Community College – Spindale / Columbus / Rutherfordton, North Carolina (19 points)

Popular trade programs at Isothermal Community College include Welding and Engineering.  Isothermal has a 1:13 faculty-student ratio and offers close to 90 programs in total.  Freshmen can join the Peer 2 Peer mentoring program to gain mentorship from a second-year student.  

  • Tuition:  $268 per credit
  • Total enrollment:  1941

13. Western Piedmont Community College – Morganton, North Carolina (18  points)

Western Piedmont Community College has a 1:10 faculty-student ratio.  Trade programs include Horticulture, Engineering Technology, and Electrical Engineering.  WPCC offers hands-on experience through apprenticeship placements with local companies.  

  • Tuition:  $268 per credit
  • Total enrollment:  1779

14. Brunswick Community College – Bolivia, North Carolina (17 points)

Brunswick Community College has a 1:9 faculty-student ratio and a 68% graduation rate.  It offers professional and technical programs including Cosmetology, Emergency Medical Science, Health Information Technology, and Welding Technology.  

  • Tuition:  $268 per credit
  • Total enrollment:  1482

15. Carteret Community College – Morehead City, North Carolina (16 points)

Carteret Community College offers more than 90 degree and certificate programs including Building Construction Technology and Boat Manufacturing and Service.  The school has a 7:1 student-faculty ratio and a 51% graduation rate.  

  • Tuition:  $268 per credit
  • Total enrollment:  1390

How Did We Rank this List?

Our ranking was based 50% on tuition and 50% on total enrollment.  

From each institution’s website, we gathered in-person undergraduate tuition rates for out-of-state domestic students in the different programs.  

Where tuition was only listed on a per-year or per-semester basis, the year was assumed to consist of two semesters, twelve credits each. Tuition figures do not include fees or other expenses. 

Each school was given a score from 1 for the highest tuition to 15 for the lowest.  Schools were also scored from 1 to 15 for total enrollment based on data from U.S. News and World Report or the colleges’ websites.  

These scores were added together to create the final ranking.  

Problems with your Ranking?  

If your school isn’t on this list and you think it deserves consideration for an update, please contact us.  Also, if you work for one of the schools on this list and you notice an error, please let us know.  We always seek to provide the most accurate information available and let readers know about the best schools across the country.  

Still not Sure which School is Right for You?

Finding the right trade school in North Carolina is an important decision.  If you still need more information or want to look at other types of schools, check out our degree finder and other lists. 

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