Trade Schools in New York with Program Overviews

There are 30 schools offering programs in a variety of occupational trades within New York. See how four of these colleges stack up against each other to find the school for you.

School Ranking Overview

Most of the trade schools in the state of New York are public institutions that offer programs requiring a time commitment of two years or less. Half of the schools providing vocational training are community colleges located in cities across the state. There are also a handful of four-year institutions that provide a selection of programs in various occupational trades; all of them are part of the public State University of New York system. Clearly, students have many options for career training, and this article seeks to help them with their education decisions by comparing four colleges in the state. The top three of these schools are ranked in the following categories:

  • Program Variety
  • Net Price
  • Graduation Rate
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio

Most Program Variety

Students interested in learning a trade that gets them into the workforce relatively quickly may not be sure which field to pursue. Going to a college or vocational school that has many programs - ranging from construction and auto repair to emergency medicine and cooking - gives undecided students a chance to explore a variety of options. Of those compared, the following colleges have the most available programs.

1. Erie Community College

Buffalo's Erie Community College (ECC) is a two-year public school offering 83 associate's degree and certificate programs. Students can pursue training in fields such as building maintenance, computer-aided design drafting, industrial technology, automotive mechanic technology, precision systems maintenance and electronics equipment installation. Other programs are available in heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC) maintenance; culinary arts; child care; nursing; emergency medical technology and several other allied health fields.

2. Nassau Community College

Next up in the top three is Nassau Community College (NCC), which has 77 available programs culminating in certificates and associate's degrees. Some of the areas of study offered by this Garden City public institution include construction site management, fire science, bookkeeping, health information technology, registered nursing and mortuary science. Other options include paralegal studies, communication systems installation and repair, interior design, civil engineering technology, electrical/electronic engineering technology and more.

3. Suffolk County Community College

Just missing out on the number two position is Suffolk County Community College (SCCC) in Selden; it ranks third for its 76 program options. The public school offers students the opportunity to train in fields like broadcasting technology, industrial production, drafting, baking, automotive mechanics technology, HVAC maintenance, police science and horticulture. The college also has many courses of study available in fields like the arts, business and healthcare, including those focused on interior design, veterinary assisting, dietitian assisting, office management and retail operations. Like the other two-year schools on the list, SCCC awards associate's degrees and certificates.

Lowest Net Price

Graduating with a mountain of school debt is a major concern for many college students, so finding an institution that fits their budgets is a priority. In most cases, two-year community colleges, like the three below, are less expensive than four-year institutions. The colleges that follow had the lowest 2012-2013 net prices for full-time students among the four compared, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

1. Erie Community College

ECC ranks first once again; this time, it is for the college's cost to students. The average net price for a year of enrollment was $4,752. The NCES determines the net price by subtracting an average amount of financial aid from the total cost of attendance, which is a figure based on in-state or in-district tuition, fees, room and board, textbooks and other educational expenses.

2. Nassau Community College

NCC takes second place for its net price; students paid $6,671 on average during the school year.

3. Suffolk County Community College

Rounding out the top three is SCCC. Its average net price for full-time students was $6,940.

Highest Graduation Rate

Of those profiled, the schools below have the highest graduation rates (NCES). The percentages come from data on full-time students who completed degree or certificate programs within 150% of normal time. When comparing schools, prospective students can get an idea of the institutions' academic quality from examining graduation rates.

1. Alfred State College

Based out of Alfred, NY, Alfred State College is a four-year public institution offering undergraduate degrees and certificates in various technology-focused fields. The school ranks first on this list for its graduation rate of 47%, which is based on students who enrolled in the fall of 2007. Alfred State's retention rate also comes out on top among the profiled schools; 85% of full-time bachelor's-level students who attended the college during fall 2012 remained there a year later (NCES).

2. Erie Community College

At a distant second in this category is ECC with an overall graduation of 24%; this stat was determined from data on undergrads who enrolled at the college in the fall of 2010. The institution's fall 2012 to fall 2013 retention rate for full-time students was 53% (NCES).

3. Suffolk County Community College

SCCC finishes out the top three once again with an overall graduation rate of 20%, which is based on students who entered the college in fall 2010. More than half of the full-time students - 64% - enrolled at SCCC in fall 2012 continued their studies at the institution in fall 2013 (NCES).

Lowest Student-to-Faculty Ratio

Learning a trade, particularly one that requires a lot of hands-on training, ideally involves plenty of one-on-one attention from instructors. Such personal interaction between educators and students is more likely to occur at schools with low student-to-faculty ratios. According to the NCES, the colleges below have the lowest of these ratios among those compared.

1. Alfred State College

Alfred State takes the number one position for its 17:1 student-to-faculty ratio. During the fall of 2013, the college employed 229 faculty members (NCES). Nearly three-fourths of the faculty worked full-time, and all but one had primarily instructional duties.

2. Nassau Community College

With 21 students for every one faculty member, the ratio at NCC is the second highest of the group. The institution's faculty in 2013 included 1,586 instructors, according to the NCES. About 69% of them were employed on a part-time basis at the college.

3. Erie Community College

ECC comes in third in this category for its 21:1 student-to-faculty ratio. The college's population is nearly 10,000 students smaller than Nassau's population, so ECC falls to the bottom of the top three despite the two schools sharing the same ratio. In 2013, the faculty at Erie Community College was comprised of 324 full-time and 524 adjunct instructional professionals (NCES).

New York Trade Schools: At a Glance

School Name Location School Type Programs Offered Area Ranking
Alfred State College Alfred, NY Public Undergraduate certificates; associate's and bachelor's degrees #1 in Graduation Rate, #1 in Student-to-Faculty Ratio
Erie Community College Buffalo, NY Public Undergraduate certificates and associate's degrees #1 in Program Variety, #1 in Net Price, #2 in Graduation Rate, #3 in Student-to-Faculty Ratio
Nassau Community College Garden City, NY Public Undergraduate certificates and associate's degrees #2 in Program Variety, #2 in Net Price, #2 in Student-to-Faculty Ratio
Suffolk County Community College Selden, NY Public Undergraduate certificates and associate's degrees #3 in Program Variety, #3 in Net Price, #3 in Graduation Rate

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