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Career colleges are private (both for-profit and not-for-profit) post-secondary institutions that provide career-specific, outcome-based programs. Graduates of career colleges can earn a diploma or certificate. Over 43,000 students enroll annually in Ontario’s career colleges alone. Considered a “bridge to Ontario’s workforce”, the career college sector produces more than 30,000 career-ready graduates yearly to meet the pressing demand of the province’s employers at a minimal cost to taxpayers.

The educational focus of career colleges is on meeting student need and providing career-specific training. The range of programming that a career college offers is as general as business, health care and technology to as specific as travel and welding. Despite the wide variety of programs available, career colleges are unified by the characteristics that set the sector apart from traditional public models of higher education:

  • Small class sizes,
  • Intensive training with short duration
  • Flexible timetabling
  • Multiple intakes throughout the year
  • Serving a unique student demographic, distinct from those attending public institutions

Like the career colleges themselves, the types of students who choose to attend a career college is quite diverse. While some students enter a career college directly out of high school – the average age is approximately 34. More than half of career college students are over the age of 30, with only 9 per cent enrolling directly out of high school.

A significant proportions of career college students who were born in Canada have attended a post-secondary institution in this country (56 per cent), with an even higher proportion of first-generation immigrants (66 per cent) having attended a university or college in another country. The majority of those who have previously attended university or college have completed a credential (degree, diploma, certificate…) at these other post-secondary institutions.

Students use a variety of options to fund their course of study including personal funds, Employment Insurance (EI) funds, WSIB sponsorship, or government-sponsored student loans (OSAP).

The demand for highly skilled employees is on the rise and the specific outcome-based nature of the training offered by career colleges ensures that graduates are “job ready” upon graduation.

The nature of work today is constantly changing and growing; so too are the needs of employers. Given the inherent flexibility of the career college sector, career colleges can adapt quickly and efficiently to the shifting landscape of the career environment to provide expedient, practical training at a high-quality government standard, which quickly meets the needs of graduates and employers.

Hence, career colleges not only meet the flexibility needs of the student but are also constantly changing to reflect the demands of the employer and marketplace.

Career colleges offer small class sizes, year-round start dates, flexible timetabling, and intensive career-focused training in often just a matter of months.

The province’s more than 600 career colleges offer beyond 5,000 programs, which range from trades training and business to healthcare and computer technology. A full list of colleges and programs can be accessed on the Service Ontario website at You can also search for programs offered at CCO member colleges through the website

The Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities is the government body responsible for registering and regulating the province’s career colleges. You can access a full list of registered career colleges on the Service Ontario website and you can contact Career Colleges Ontario at to see if they‘re a member in good standing.

Career college students use a variety of funding sources including personal funds, Second Career funding, WSIB sponsorship, and government sponsored student loans (OSAP). Get in touch with a representative at a career college to find out more about financial options.

You’re never too old to go back to school! In fact, career colleges excel in training a unique demographic of mature students, with over half—57 per cent—of career college students being over the age of 30.

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