Community & Technical Colleges Facts


Primary mission of Washington's community & technical colleges

  1. Transfer preparation – providing the first two years of a bachelor's degree.
  2. Training or retraining for jobs in today's economy.
  3. Basic skills for those who need to learn English and/or need to prepare for college-level coursework.

Economic impact

Washington's 34 community and technical colleges and their former students add $11 billion annually to the state's economy. Thousands of Washington community and technical college students generate more than $10 billion in labor income for the state and the colleges themselves generate more than $100 million in added tax revenues annually.


Getting Washington working again

Your community and technical colleges work with industry leaders to develop and refine professional-technical training programs to prepare workers with the skills necessary to land family-wage jobs. Despite budget cuts throughout the Great Recession, colleges have added programs in aerospace, alternative energy, business services, hospitality, healthcare, and sustainable agriculture – all critical areas of growth in Washington.


History of Washington community and technical colleges

Washington's first junior college started in 1915 in Everett when 42 students began a one-year college program on the top floor of Everett high school. State support for two-year colleges was provided for the first time by the 1941 Legislature. In 1961, the Legislature designated junior colleges as "community" colleges. The financing of community colleges was separated from local school districts in 1963, and in 1967 the Legislature adopted the Community College Act of 1967.


The structure of the community college system changed again in 1991 when, as part of the Work Force Training and Education Act, the Legislature amended the Community College Act of 1967 and re-designated it as the Community and Technical College Act of 1991. That Act provided for a state system of community and technical colleges separate from both the public secondary schools and four-year institutions. The Act requires colleges to "offer an open door to every citizen, regardless of his or her academic background or experiences, at a cost normally within his or her economic means."


Want to learn more?

Check out the Washington State Community and Technical Colleges Field Guide or the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges website.