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NCST Specialized AST Degree Granting Program

Schooling for a Better Future

Are you are searching for the best trade school or technical school around? Receiving a trade school education is a great option in today’s economy because of the marketable, real-life skills you learn. But in addition to looking at the skilled trade side of the program, you should also give some thought to whether a particular school offers specialized AST degree-granting programs or not. There is an advantage in entering a program at an accredited school that grants you a specialized AST degree along with trade skill training.

What is Accreditation?

People talk a lot about whether a school is “accredited” or has an “accreditation”, but what does that really mean? Accreditation means a given school’s programs are recognized by a higher authority, typically a State Department of Education. This means that a reputable committee of qualified people has reviewed the program offerings and stand behind it. In short, it means that you will really get what you pay for from school.

Why Do You Care?

This is a question asked by many young people looking into the skilled trades. After all, not all trade schools are accredited, and yet the trade and technical skills they teach are solid. It is true that you can receive excellent trade and technical skills training from a school with no accreditation (but beware of online programs with no accreditation, many of these offer no real value). It is also true that enrolling in a specialized AST degree-granting program from an accredited school will require you to take several classes that are not directly related to your chosen trade.


Not taking the opportunity to attend an accredited school and receive a specialized AST degree means that you are also forfeiting any and all potential benefits that come from obtaining a Specialized AST degree. 

Benefits of a Specialized AST Degree

Get what you pay for:

You can be sure that an accredited school is really going to teach what is offered in its programs

Make more money: 

There is a historical trend that directly links the level of your education to your level of income. Simply put, the general rule is that the higher your level of education, the more money you will make. While this is not a hard and fast rule, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that this is true more often than not.

Broader job prospects:

The higher your degree the more specific your specialization.  A specialized degree is the first level of college education and the least specific. Someone who attends a standard Community College may receive an Associate in General Studies (A.G.S) degree. This would indicate they have completed broad educational courses in topics like English, mathematics, humanities, social science, and electives.

Associate in Specialized Technology (A.S.T.) Degree:

This indicates that in addition to trade skills you also completed courses in topics like mathematics.

Outside of work in the skilled trades, many potential employers will note the fact that you obtained a specialized AST degree. Your specialized AST degree will rank just as well as most other Community College graduates and your trade skills may be considered as a bonus. Because of this, if you decide not to pursue a career in the skilled trades your specialized AST degree will be of much greater use to you than a certificate or diploma from a non-accredited school.

Our Specialized AST Degree-Granting Programs

NCST is proud to offer SIX specialized AST degree-granting programs.

To learn more about our programs follow one of the program links above or give us a call at 724-788-4417.