Glenn Hegar
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Glenn Hegar
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
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Glenn Hegar
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
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Texas Community Colleges:Northwest Region

Public community colleges serve a vital role in our state’s economy by training our workforce and preparing students for further academic study. Created specifically to expand access to higher education, they’re also notable for filling the specific educational and vocational needs of their service areas.

Regional Overview

The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts divides the state into 12 economic regions. The Northwest Texas economic region — 30 counties covering about 27,600 square miles in northern Texas — has five community college districts: Cisco College, North Central Texas College, Ranger College, Vernon College and Western Texas College. The region is home to about 549,000 people, or nearly two percent of the state’s population.

Regional Economic Impact

In 2020, the Comptroller’s office requested financial data from Texas’ 50 community college districts and conducted statewide and regional studies of their economic impact. Our analysis predated the COVID-19 crisis and the economic impacts that followed. The Northwest region’s four community college districts reported revenues of nearly $86.0 million in fiscal 2018, which produced an additional $42.4 million in indirect and induced economic activity for a total impact of $128.4 million annually. Nearly 1,400 jobs are supported by the region’s community college spending. Under normal economic conditions, every dollar spent by community colleges produces an additional 49 cents of economic activity, while every dollar spent on compensation produces an additional 20 cents of total income to the state economy (Exhibit 1).

Exhibit 1 Estimated Economic Impact of the Northwest Region’s Community Colleges, 2019

Estimated Economic Impact of the Northwest Region’s Community Colleges, 2019
Indicator Direct Indirect Induced Total Total Multiplier
Employment 1,127 61 208 1,396 1.24
Output $86.0 million $11.6 million $30.8 million $128.4 million 1.49
Compensation $58.3 million $2.8 million $9.1 million $70.1 million 1.2

Output refers to the intermediate and final economic values of goods and services. Induced impact refers to the jobs, sales/output and compensation created when new employees spend their wages at local establishments. Figures may not sum due to rounding.

Sources: JobsEQ, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and Texas community colleges

Our model represents a conservative estimate. Other studies, including one conducted by this agency in 2008 and another by Emsi in 2015, have applied a broader view of the economic ripple effects of a community college education and found considerably greater impact.

Employment and Wages

In general, the region’s health care professions, personal care and service and the restaurant industry, have seen the highest employment growth in the last five-years. The number of the Northwest region’s extraction workers has declined during the past five-years in large part due to the downturn is the oil and gas and petrochemical industries. The personal care and service industry added more 1,300 jobs, while the health care industry in the region added almost 1,000 jobs.

The region’s most significant occupations are shown in Exhibits 2 and 3, first by location quotient (which measures an industry’s proportionate concentration in a region versus its concentration in the U.S. as a whole) and secondly by numeric growth during the last five years.

Exhibit 2 Top Occupations in the Northwest Region by Location Quotient, 2014 to 2019

Top Occupations in the Northwest Region by Location Quotient, 2014 to 2019
Occupation Number Employed Average Annual Wages LQ Number Unemployed Unemployment Rate Five-Year Employment Change
Extraction Workers 2,715 $44,900 8.06 132 4.5% -1,976
Funeral Service Workers 208 $38,100 1.97 7 3.5% 19
Law Enforcement Workers 3,321 $48,600 1.9 28 0.9% -150
Other Management Occupations 12,308 $80,300 1.85 112 1.0% -168
Supervisors of Farming, Fishing, and Forestry Workers 139 $50,100 1.82 3 2.5% 20

Figures may not sum due to rounding. Data are as of Q3 2019 except for wage data, which represent covered employment in 2018.

Source: JobsEQ

Exhibit 3 Top Occupations in the Northwest Region by Numeric Growth, 2014 to 2019

Top Occupations in the Northwest Region by Numeric Growth, 2014 to 2019
Occupation Number Employed Average Annual Wages LQ Number Unemployed Unemployment Rate Five-Year Employment Change
Other Personal Care and Service Workers 7,652 $20,900 1.17 321 4.2% 1,313
Health Diagnosing and Treating Practitioners 9,323 $91,400 1.1 73 0.8% 995
Food and Beverage Serving Workers 11,957 $20,400 1.05 693 5.4% 786
Building Cleaning and Pest Control Workers 5,422 $22,400 0.98 243 4.3% 639
Health Technologists and Technicians 5,935 $40,500 1.26 104 1.8% 268

Figures may not sum due to rounding. Data are as of Q3 2019 except wage data, which are for covered employment in 2018.

Source: JobsEQ

Wages by Educational Attainment

Community colleges deliver a particularly good return on investments of time and tuition. In the Northwest region, workers with some college or associate degrees and with stable jobs — defined as those employed with the same firm throughout a calendar quarter — earn an average of $3,401 more annually than high school graduates (Exhibit 4).

Exhibit 4 Average Annual Earnings by Educational Attainment, Northwest Region and Texas, 2018

Average Annual Earnings by Educational Attainment, Northwest Region and Texas, 2018
Educational Attainment Number Employed, Region Average Annual Earnings, Region Number Employed, Texas Average Annual Earnings, Texas
Less than high school 31,068 $35,612 2,065,483 $42,808
High school or equivalent, no college 55,171 $39,212 2,765,759 $52,035
Some college or associate degree 58,694 $42,613 3,245,675 $60,428
Bachelor’s degree or advanced degree 33,383 $56,035 2,454,975 $95,716
Educational attainment not available 25,530 $21,590 1,544,282 $22,087
Total 203,847 $41,019 12,076,174 $58,787

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau and JobsEQ

The increase in wages alone for those workers adds an additional $199.6 million in direct compensation to the state economy each year (Exhibit 5) — more than twice the total spending of the region’s community colleges.

Exhibit 5

Total Annual Regional Earnings Increase, Some College or Associate Degree versus High School or Equivalent, 2018

Employed, Some College or Associate Degree:


Average Earnings Increase Beyond High School or Equivalent:


Total Regional Earnings Increase:

$199.6 million

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, JobsEQ and Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

The wage effect is particularly noteworthy given an average annual tuition for the region’s community colleges of just $3,139 per year and the modest two-year educational commitment required for an associate degree.1 The highest-paying jobs for associate-degree holders in Texas are in the energy/utility, management, professional services, trade and manufacturing sectors.2

More Degrees Needed

While the region’s new graduates and certificate holders enter the workforce in large numbers, demand for some degrees still outpaces supply. Broadly speaking, these award gaps are largely in agriculture, health professions and business administration.

The Northwest region’s community college districts awarded more than 1,100 certificates and associate degrees in general studies and liberal arts in the 2017-18 school year; the next most-common award areas were health professions, precision production and other trades (Exhibit 6).

Exhibit 6Top 10 Certificates and Degree Awards in the Northwest Region’s Community Colleges, 2017-18 School Year

Top 10 Certificates and Degree Awards in the Northwest Region’s Community Colleges, 2017-18 School Year
Certificates and Degrees Number Awarded
Liberal Arts and Sciences, General Studies and Humanities 1,188
Health Professions and Related Clinical Sciences 458
Skilled Precision Production of Leather, Metal or Wood Products 142
Personal and Culinary Services 134
Computer and Information Sciences and Support Services 85
Agriculture, Agriculture Operations, and Related Sciences 65
Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services 60
Family and Consumer Sciences/Human Sciences 49
Mechanic and Repair Technologies/Technicians 42
Engineering Technologies/Technicians 29

Source: JobsEQ

Northwest Community College Overview

The Northwest region’s five community college districts provided technical and academic coursework for more than 21,000 students in the 2017-18 school year (Exhibit 7).

Exhibit 7 Northwest Region Community Colleges Overview, 2017-18 School Year

Northwest Region Community Colleges Overview, 2017-18 School Year
Community College District Enrollment Awards Average Tuition and Fees Academic Share of Students Enrolled Technical Share of Students Enrolled Enrolled or Employed, Academic* Enrolled or Employed, Technical*
Cisco College  3,358 693 $3,810 72.9% 27.1% 93.5% 98.0%
North Central Texas College  10,171 1,106 2,730 72.9% 27.1% 90.8% 89.5%
Ranger College  2,399 371 3,065 81.2% 18.8% 90.2% 92.4%
Vernon College  3,055 616 3,300 70.7% 29.3% 94.7% 94.9%
Western Texas College  2,179 366 2,790 89.3% 10.7% 94.3% 43.7%

*The percentage of academic or technical graduates employed in the fourth quarter of the calendar year after graduation and/or enrolled in a Texas two- or four-year institution in the following fall after graduation, as specified.

Source: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board

Cisco College

  • In fiscal 2018, Cisco College added $123.6 million in income to the Cisco College service area’s economy, equal to about 1.2 percent of the area’s gross product.
  • Cisco College’s total impact supported 1,982 regional jobs, or one out of every 60 jobs in the Cisco College service area.
  • The average associate degree graduate from Cisco College will see an increase in earnings of $8,200 each year compared to a high school graduate or equivalent working in Texas.3
  • Cisco College’s biotechnology program provides students hands-on experience with scientific tests, experiments and analyses to prepare for an entry-level position in the rapidly growing biotechnology field.4

North Central Texas College

  • In partnership with the Texas Workforce Commission, North Central Texas College (NCTC) will offer a new training program, Navigating Apprenticeships in Industrial Learning, which will give students the basic construction knowledge to enter a variety of fields with excellent pay.5
  • To support a growing field, NCTC’s Adult and Continuing Education division is offering online courses to help students gain the knowledge to earn or maintain a real estate agent license.6
  • NCTC’s sustainable horticulture plan allows students to learn from industry professionals and earn certificates that can lead to a career in fields such as greenhouse management, public garden management and sustainable agriculture.7

Ranger College

  • Ranger College’s machining program helps students learn to set up and operate machine tools to manufacture, modify or repair products used in a variety of industries.8
  • Ranger College’s truck driving program prepares students to become licensed over-the-road drivers in the on-demand field of truck driving.9
  • Students can gain entry to a career making people look and feel their best through Ranger College’s cosmetology program.10

Vernon College

  • Vernon College’s fully licensed Police Academy offers courses to prepare students to pass the Peace Officer licensing exam and to allow current officers to complete required continuing education.11
  • Vernon College provides a variety of courses in trades such as welding, HVAC, mechanics, nursing, and cosmetology that allow students to earn certificates and quickly start a career requiring skilled labor.12
  • For students looking to start a career in the state’s growing petroleum industry, Vernon College offers training to become a drilling fluid technician or mud engineer.13

Western Texas College

  • Western Texas College’s (WTC) electrical lineman technology program trains students to build, repair and maintain electrical distribution systems at a facility built in partnership with Big Country Electric Cooperative.14
  • WTC is partnering with Roscoe Collegiate ISD and West Texas A&M University to develop the Innovation Degree, which allows high school students to obtain their associate degree at WTC and then take online classes at West Texas A&M to earn a bachelor’s degree.15
  • For students looking to enter the horticulture industry, WTC offers a turfgrass and landscape management program to prepare for work in areas including golf course management, landscape design, sports field management, and irrigation.16


Community colleges play a vital role for students and businesses by offering postsecondary education and job training at great value. As the Northwest region’s five community college districts work to address local skills gaps and meet the specific needs of area employers, they support nearly 1,400 jobs and add more than $128 million in economic output annually. Furthermore, the higher pay of those with some college or an associate degree helps raise total wages in the region by nearly $200 million per year.

End Notes

Links are correct at the time of publication. The Comptroller's office is not responsible for external websites.

  1. Calculated from data in Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, THECB Texas Public Higher Education 2019 Almanac, Spring 2019.
  2. Based on data provided by JobsEQ.
  3. Emsi, “The Economic Value of Cisco College: Executive Summary,” October 2019.
  4. Cisco College, “Biotechnology.”
  5. Megan K. Jefferson, “NCTC Offers New Training Program,” North Central Texas College (November 21, 2019).
  6. Angel Fitzpatrick, “Take Online Real Estate Courses When You Want, Where You Want,” North Central Texas College (January 16, 2019).
  7. North Central Texas College CareerFocus, “Nurturing Nature: Horticulture Celebrates the Delicate Side of Life,” Spring 2019.
  8. Ranger College, “Machining.”
  9. Ranger College, “Truck Driving.”
  10. Amanda Kimble, “Ranger School of Cosmetology Offers Students a Fast Track to Success,” The Flash Today (June 23, 2016).
  11. Katy Garcia, “Vernon College Law Enforcement Academy and In-Service Training,” Texoma’s KFDX (June 11, 2019).
  12. Sarah Hines, “Vernon College Sees Increase in Skilled Labor Jobs,” CBS News Channel 6 (August 22, 2018).
  13. Vernon College, “Drilling Fluid Technician.”
  14. Western Texas College, “Electrical Lineman Technology Certificate Program.” (PDF)
  15. Western Texas College, “WTC Partners with Roscoe Collegiate and West Texas A&M for New Innovation Degree,” July 30, 2019.
  16. Western Texas College, “Turfgrass and Landscape Management.” (PDF)


If you have any questions or concerns regarding the material on this page, please contact the Comptroller’s Data Analysis and Transparency Division.