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Pennsylvania Colleges and Universities

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Pennsylvania colleges and universities

Pennsylvania, a large northeastern state between New York and Ohio, is rich in colonial history--and in contemporary career opportunities. Pennsylvania trade schools and universities offer the full mix of career education to help you find your way in the U.S. workforce.

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Colleges and Universities in Pennsylvania

A look at Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania, the Keystone State, holds an important place in the imaginations of most Americans. The United States was born here: The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were created and signed in Pennsylvania's capital Philadelphia. Liberty, the virtue that drove Europeans to North America in the 17th century, is enshrined in the State's motto, "Virtue, liberty, and independence." The colonial era persists in Pennsylvania culture, both in historic cities like Philadelphia, York and Pittsburgh, and in the Pennsylvania Dutch community based in Lancaster County.

Pennsylvania's changing economy

Today, Pennsylvania is home to a diverse and bustling economy. The state's Gross State Product is the sixth-largest in the nation, or $553.3 billion. Job opportunities are concentrated in Pennsylvania's urban centers, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

  • Philadelphia is a major national center for finance, insurance, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology. Fortune 500 companies in Philadelphia include Comcast, Sunoco, Aramark, pharma companies Wyeth and GlaxoSmithKline, CIGNA insurance, and many more.
  • Pittsburgh made its name as a steel town, but has since reinvented itself as a high-tech R&D center. According to an NPR report, there were 1600 technology companies in Pittsburgh as of 2010. Specialties include robotics, nuclear engineering, biomedical technology and information technology. Eight Fortune 500 businesses are headquartered in Pittsburgh, including PNC Financial Services, Mylan Laboratories and CONSOL Energy.

Economic diversity spells opportunity for qualified professionals. As of July 2011, Pennsylvania's unemployment rate was a relatively low 7.8 percent, more than a percentage point lower than the U.S. rate.

Pennsylvania career colleges

Pennsylvania colleges and universities prepare students to take advantage of the region's diverse economy. In addition to 14 state universities and 15 two-year community colleges, Pennsylvania is home to many private and for-profit technical schools, vocational institutes and four-year colleges.

Pennsylvania trade schools offer accessible one-year vocational certificates or two-year associate degrees in high-demand career fields such as:

  • Lab science technician, for jobs in pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and other technology R&D
  • Health services, for careers in Pennsylvania's hospitals and medical clinics
  • IT, for careers with high-tech employers
  • Accounting and business administration, for careers in financial services

Pennsylvania's college completion rate is 26 percent for bachelor's degrees. While a two-year degree from a Pennsylvania trade school can launch your career, a four-year degree may help distinguish you in the job market.

Pennsylvania living

Pennsylvania offers affordable living for students and young professionals. The median household income was near the national median in 2009, at $49,501. Yet the median home value was well under the national level, at $152,300 compared to $185,400 (U.S. Census Bureau). It's little wonder that Pennsylvania boasts a high homeownership rate of 71.5 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The ACCRA Cost of Living Index lists five metropolitan areas below the national average for cost of living, notably Pittsburgh at 92 and Erie at 97. In recent years, Pittsburgh has regularly won honors as the most livable city by Forbes, Yahoo! and The Economist, a mark of its affordability and low crime rate.

Pennsylvania was founded centuries ago on principles of liberty and the right to determine one's own path in life. Today, you can make good on this promise with a Pennsylvania career education.

Author: Dr. Clare Kaufman is a freelance writer who covers business and education topics.
Pennsylvania Colleges, Universities, & Schools
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