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Bates Technical College | Field Guide 2021

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Each year, about 6,700 students of every age and background turn to Bates Technical College to train for well-paying careers. Founded in 1940, Bates delivers hands-on education at three Tacoma campuses. Our college offers two-year degrees, short-term certificates, academic courses, a technical high school, and life-long learning opportunities. Whether students are 16 or 60, just out of high school or working adults, our college prepares them for the next step up in life.

As a technical college that serves a large number of lower-income students, students of color, and students who are the first in their families to attend college, Bates is key to creating a stronger and more inclusive economy.

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Key Facts

Highest Enrolled Programs

  • Early Childhood Education
  • Practical Nurse
  • Diesel and Heavy Equipment Technology
  • Commercial Truck Driving: Entry Level
  • Electrical Construction
  • Fire Service


  • Headcount (all sources): 7,451
  • FTES (all sources): 3,571
  • Headcount (state-funded): 6,429
  • FTES (state-funded): 3,018

Students in Selected Programs

  • Apprentices: 1,844
  • I-BEST: 250
  • International: 2
  • Running Start: 3
  • Worker Retraining: 382

Student Profile

Type of Student

  • Academic/transfer: 1%
  • Basic skills: 2%
  • Other: 20%
  • Workforce education: 77%


  • American Indian/Alaska Native: 4%
  • Asian: 8%
  • Black/African American: 10%
  • Hispanic/Latino: 13%
  • Pacific Islander: 2%
  • Other race: 1%
  • White: 73%


  • Full-time: 39%
  • Part-time: 61%

Family and Finances

  • Students receiving need-based financial aid: 44%
  • Students who work: 62%
  • Students with children: 44%


  • Female: 54%
  • Male: 46%

Median age


Points of Interest

Competency-based education returns to Bates

Through participation in the Competency-Based Education Network (C-BEN), the college will seek regional accreditor approval to shift educational delivery in a handful of pilot programs to focus on course mastery rather than course completion. C-BEN is a national group of accredited two- and four-year public and private colleges and universities who work together to address shared challenges aligned with designing, developing and scaling competency-based education programs. With its roots in competency-based education delivery, Bates is eager to again employ this method to support student success, increase the connection between faculty and students, and increase program completion through mastery of industry-recognized skills and competencies.

Responding to fire service industry needs through redesigned, new facilities

To respond to the growing demand for skilled firefighters, the college is pursuing funding for a new Fire Service Training Center. With full funding, the 54,500-square-foot educational facility will help Bates continue to prepare students for careers as firefighters and in closely related occupations. A fire education leader, Bates Technical College graduates serve, often in senior positions, in fire departments throughout the state, with active partnerships with fire departments and districts in area cities, Pierce County, Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Pierce County Emergency Management.

Implementing Guided Pathways gives students an advantage and transforms college

Bates Technical College began an institution-wide Guided Pathways effort to transform and restructure its offerings, which will help reduce barriers, increase retention and boost student success. Guided Pathways will allow students to easily navigate career program options, identify their pathway and complete their studies with reduced educational costs. With funding support from the Legislature, the college is implementing additional technology and tools to support this effort.

Data is from the 2019-20 academic year. Reflects headcount unless otherwise noted.

*May not add up to 100% because students may be counted in more than one race. Percentages calculated on reported value.


Dr. Lin Zhou


  • Heather Moss, chair
  • Layne Bladow
  • Christina Blocker
  • Florence Chang

Year Founded


Service Area

Pierce County

Legislative Districts

2, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31

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Last Modified: 12/8/23, 9:43 AM

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