Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology highlighted in NBC Nightly News report on economy

NBC News Interviewing student at TCAT Nashville

With more than 60 percent of jobs in the U.S. requiring more than a high school diploma, pursuing higher education is more important than ever. However, the traditional four-year university isn't the only path to success. With the rapid evolution of technology and a competitive job market, developing strong skills in high-demand fields can make all the difference.

As highlighted in an NBC Nightly News segment on May 5, many students like Abby Carlson now turn to Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology (TCAT) to develop specialized skills and gain practical experience. Abby shared her experience at TCAT with the program, expressing optimism. “I have hope for the future like I never did before,” she commented.

Each of Tennessee’s 24 TCATs offers a wide range of programs to prepare students for immediate entry into the workforce. These programs often take less than two years to complete and focus on teaching skills and knowledge in specific technical fields, such as healthcare, manufacturing, information technology and more. The hands-on nature of these courses ensures that students can confidently enter the job market with practical experience under their belts.

Cost is a primary advantage of choosing a Tennessee College of Applied Technology. Compared to traditional universities, TCATs offer significantly lower tuition rates, enabling students to acquire valuable skills without accruing large amounts of student loan debt. 

Nathan Garrett, president of TCAT Nashville, told NBC News, "I think at the end of the day, people are really looking at, where's the value?’” 

With student aid programs like the Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect, pursuing a diploma or certificate at TCATs is often tuition-free. Coupled with transfer opportunities to Tennessee’s community colleges and then the Tennessee Transfer Pathway to Tennessee public and private universities, TCATs are often the first step leading to multiple degrees and further opportunities. 

TCATs offer an impressive track record of student success. According to the Tennessee Board of Regents, more than 80 percent of TCAT students complete their chosen program, and 86 percent of those graduates go on to find employment within their field of study. These statistics indicate that TCATs are effective at teaching students the necessary skills and helping them secure stable employment. In today's competitive job market, this level of success speaks volumes about the quality of education at TCATs.

The strong partnerships between TCATs and local industries further contribute to their students' success. These relationships facilitate the creation of programs tailored to the job market's needs, ensuring that students graduate with the most relevant and up-to-date skills. Additionally, these partnerships often lead directly to job placement opportunities, providing students with valuable connections and a foot in the door of their chosen field.

Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology offer an excellent alternative to traditional four-year universities. By providing affordable, hands-on education closely aligned with industry needs, TCATs equip students with the skills and experience they need to thrive in the job market. 

Whether a recent high school graduate or an adult seeking to improve one’s career prospects, Tennesseans are wise to consider exploring Tennessee's technical colleges' diverse range of programs. The pathway to success may look slightly different than first thought.


The College System of Tennessee is the state’s largest public higher education system, with 13 community colleges, 24 colleges of applied technology and the online TN eCampus serving approximately 140,000 students. The system is governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents.