The construction sector covers an extremely large set of occupations, from carpentry in residential subdivisions to engineering new highways or public utility systems. It's also an industry that continues to grow as the national economy enjoys its healthy rebound from the recession.
Many trade workers, such as carpenters, electricians, plumbers and ironworkers, learn their skills on the job or through paid apprenticeship programs. However, tradespeople who enroll in construction degree programs from technical or vocational colleges can get additional education in construction basics, such as reading blueprints, building code requirements, or the many intricacies that are specific to their particular trade. These programs, which typically culminate in a certificate, diploma or associate degree, can potentially help tradespeople advance their careers much faster than their peers who do not complete additional training and education.
Best Colleges for Construction Degrees Programs
The colleges in the list below represent 10 of the best colleges for construction degrees. We compiled data from the National Center for Education Statistics and used a unique methodology to rank each institution. Read on to learn more about our 10 best colleges for construction degrees, or click the button below to gain additional insight into factors that gave each institution its ranking.
This community college in Grantsboro, N.C. has roots in industrial education that trace back to 1962. Today, one-third of all students at Pamlico Community College are enrolled in a skilled trades program, one of many factors that places the college at the head of our list of best construction degree programs.
The college offers a wide range of technical trade programs, including welding, HVAC repair, AutoCAD and more. All programs culminate in a certificate. PCC also offers a comprehensive welding program that culminates in either a diploma or associate's degree, and it has an electrical systems technology program that also culminates in an Associate of Science degree.
Students at Pamlico Community College finish what they started - the college is the leader in our top 10 with a 71 percent graduation rate. PCC, like all other schools in this ranking, has an open admissions policy, and it has the best student-to-faculty ratio at 9:1.
This public community college has its flagship campus at Yuma, but it supports a 10,000-square-mile swath of western Arizona through 10 additional learning centers. The college has transfer agreements with Northern Arizona University, Arizona State University and University of Arizona to facilitate easy transfer to a four-year institution.
AZW has the second-most construction trades programs in our top 10, including associate degree programs in the following trades:
- Electrical technology
With an in-state tuition and fees cost of $1,872, Arizona Western College had the third-lowest cost of all institutions in our rankings. Another factor that gives AWZ its second-place ranking is that fact that nearly 20 percent completed a construction degree program in 2015.
Founded in 1925 as a trade school, LATTC is the oldest public two-year college in the Los Angeles Community College District. The 25-acre campus is located a few miles south of the city's bustling Central Business district.
Almost half of all students enrolled in trade or technical programs work more than 30 hours per week. Many of them enjoy the flexibility of the college's weekend and evening classroom hours as they work toward completing trade programs. The college offers construction trade programs in the following areas:
- Welding and fabrication
- Carpentry and construction technologies
- Electrical construction
- Welding technology
With its modest cost for in-state tuition and fees -- $1,220 for the 2015-2016 academic year -- LATTC has the second-lowest tuition costs in any school in our top 10 list of best colleges for construction degree programs.
The oldest technical college in Arizona, GateWay Community College has four locations in Phoenix. The college offers many different educational programs in construction technologies, including construction management, carpentry, electrical and more.
Programs typically last five to eight months. However, GateWay Community College also offers apprenticeship programs in 11 different construction trades for working students who want to increase their skills and knowledge in their trade.
Students at GateWay Community College enjoy a great deal of interaction with their instructors - the college has a favorable 13:1 student-faculty ratio. They also enjoy the flexibility of being able to attend classes at night and on weekends. GateWay Community College lands in the fourth spot in our top 10 based on these factors, as well as the high number of skilled trades programs offered by the college.
SCC is one of two colleges in the Rancho Santiago Community College District of Southern California. The college has a wide range of apprenticeship training programs in the major construction trades, including specialty fields such as:
- Operating engineers-heavy equipment operator
- Carpentry-pile driver
- Carpentry-concrete, finish carpentry and tilt-up construction
- Acoustical tile, plastering and drywall-lathing
Apprenticeship programs range in length from two to five years. Students are paid as they learn the intricacies of their chosen craft under skilled journeyworkers, and they receive college credit for all supplemental classwork. Programs culminate in a certificate or associate degree.
Santiago Canyon College leads our list of top schools for construction degree programs for cost of in-state tuition -- $1,142. It also has the fifth-highest graduation rate of any institution in these rankings. However, SCC has the highest student-to-faculty ratio of any institution at 37:1.
One of only seven colleges in the Maine Community College System, Northern Maine Community College's 87-acre campus is located at Presque Isle. NMCC offers the following construction trade programs:
- Structural welding
- Electrical construction and maintenance
- Building construction technology
- Plumbing and heating
Programs culminate in either a certificate or an Associate of Applied Science degree. Additionally, the college's trade and technical occupations program rewards an associate degree for students who have completed a registered apprenticeship program and have enrolled in a college-approved technical program that's at least three years in length.
Northern Maine Community College enjoyed the fourth-highest graduation rate among the featured institutions in our rankings. It has a flexible open admissions policy, and highly favorable 11:1 student-faculty ratio, which ties it for second among our top 10.
Located in north-central North Carolina, Piedmont Community College has campus locations and off-site training centers at Roxboro and Yanceyville.
Piedmont Community College's technical trades programs culminate in either a certificate, diploma or Associate of Applied Science degree depending on total amount of coursework completed. The school offers study in the following technical career paths:
- Electrical systems-residential, commercial, industrial
- Industrial systems technology
With its 12:1 faculty to student ratio, Piedmont Community College is well staffed and can provide students with a more personalized education experience. PCC also offers academic assistance and career support services, as well as career placement upon graduation.
The eighth institution on this list is located in Aberdeen, Wash. and has the fourth-highest graduation rate among the featured colleges. Students at Grays Harbor College also enjoy a favorable 18:1 student-faculty ratio, so they can potentially receive extra attention from their professors when needed. Grays Harbor College also awarded the second-highest number of construction degrees in 2015 of all 10 colleges in our list of best schools for construction degree programs.
The college offers workforce education and training for residents of Grays Harbor and Pacific counties. Areas of study include carpentry and welding technology. The welding technology program features several areas of specialty study, including structural welding, industrial welding, pipe welding and open-root pipe welding. Programs culminate in either a certificate or an associate degree.
DCCC has the second-highest graduation rate of any institution in these rankings. Students also enjoy the flexibility of night and evening classes, as well as a wide range of academic and career support services, as well as an open admissions policy.
Dodge City Community College offers certificate or associate degree programs in building construction technology and welding. Both programs have a low 13:1 student to faculty ratio, so students can expect a more personalized education than at larger institutions. Students also have the flexibility of attending classes on weekends or during the evening, and the college helps with career placement upon graduation.
Rounding out our ranking of the 10 best colleges for construction programs is Randolph Community College in Asheboro, N.C. The two-year public institution has served residents of Randolph County since 1962.
Randolph Community College's electrical systems technology program culminates in either a certificate, diploma or Associate of Applied Science degree, while its welding technology program culminates with either a diploma or certificate.
Students at RCC enjoy low cost of in-state tuition and fees - fourth-lowest among our 10 featured institutions. They also have the luxury of small class sizes (11:1), which can lead to more interaction with professors. The college also offers night and weekend classes, and provides students with academic and career support while in school and after graduation.
Construction Degree Programs and Common Career Paths
Depending on the field of study, students who complete construction degree programs have the option to continue their education at a four-year university. This is especially true for students who enroll in construction management programs.
Career Outlook for Construction Majors
With such a wide range of potential jobs, it's hard to pinpoint which jobs have the brightest outlook. As a general rule, construction employment is tied to the national economy - when it's robust, so is local, regional and statewide development that spurs construction-sector employment.
Here is a look at career growth and salary expectations for some of the most common construction career paths.
PROJECTED JOB GROWTH(%)
|Helpers, Construction Trades||$34,300||242,400||10.5%|
|Supervisors of Construction and Extraction Workers||$71,440||626,180||10.4%|
|Construction Trades Workers||$51,330||4,617,440||9.7%|
|Painters, Construction and Maintenance||$44,640||232,760||6%|
Financial Aid and Scholarships For Construction Programs
Students who enroll at a trade or technical school may be eligible for federal financial assistance. There also are many different scholarships available through both large and small construction trade industry groups. For instance, the National Association for Women in Construction awards more than $25,000 each year to construction tradeswomen, while the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association awards two scholarships each year. The Associated General Contractors of America offers graduate and undergraduate-level scholarships, as well as workforce development scholarships for students in craft training or technical programs.
To be included in these rankings, all schools must meet the following initial criteria for the specific subject being ranked.
- Offer an undergraduate degree (either associate or bachelor’s) in that subject.
- Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in the most recent year of IPEDS data available.
Based on those criteria, we ranked all 2-year and 4-year schools in IPEDS that reported data for all of the following points. Ratings are calculated on a 10-point scale, using the weights specified.
- In-state undergraduate tuition & fees, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Graduation rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Accessibility, based on admissions rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Institutional spending, based on two equally weighted factors, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Instructional and academic support expenses per full-time enrolled student
- Instructional and academic support spending as a percentage of all expenses
- Student-to-faculty ratio, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Flexibility, based on the following factors, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Percent of students enrolled fully or partly in distance education
- Whether the school offers programs that can be completed entirely in the evenings and on weekends
- Whether the school offers academic and career counseling
- Whether the school offers job placement services for students who complete their programs
- Whether the school offers any alternative tuition plans, such as a payment plan or guaranteed rate
- Size of program, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded in 2014-15 were in this particular subject, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Related subjects, based on the number of similar topics for programs in relevant CIP codes that are offered at any level, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015