The New Castle School of Trades is a private, for-profit institution offering programs in a number of fields.
Founded in 1945, the school originally trained students for jobs as tradesmen and craftsmen. Today, graduates obtain the skills to earn certification and employment as professional technicians.
NCST is actually in Pulaski, PA., about 20 miles from the Boardman-Youngstown-Warren metropolitan area near the border of Ohio and Pennsylvania. The school outgrew its New Castle facilities in 1954.
A satellite campus opened in 2011, six miles east of the existing site, to provide additional space. Five years later, the school established a branch campus in East Liverpool, Ohio.
NCST bills itself as a “multipurpose technical and trade institution” that is the best of its kind in the Ohio and Pennsylvania area. Students train with state-of-the-art equipment. Thousands have earned diplomas since the first degree program began in 1982.
Instruction is not limited to the classroom. NCST prides itself for also providing “hands-on” training. The “guiding principles” are the “five As”: attitude, attendance, appearance, academics and accountability.
NCST is recognized by the Accrediting Commission of the National Association of Trade and Technical Schools – which the U.S. Department of Education considers the accreditation authority in NCST’s category. EFC Trade has owned the institution since 1988.
This is a small trade school in a rural setting. A majority of the student body is white, with a large Latino contingent as well as some Asians and Native Americans.
Evening and weekend classes are available for those with jobs or other commitments during the day. NCST’s graduation rate far exceeds that of the average post-secondary school in the United States. Students benefit from academic and career-counseling services. They learn how to seek employment and, upon graduation, receive job-placement assistance.
Though the school has no sports teams or other campus activities, the area offers numerous attractions. Pulaski is in Lawrence County, known as the “Fireworks Capital of America” due to the presence of two large pyrotechnics companies. The annual Fourth of July fireworks show in New Castle is spectacular.
Pulaski has a golf course, art galleries, zoo and aquarium. An outfitting service rents paddleboards, kayaks, rafts and outdoor gear.
Frequent festivals, like the “Back to the ‘50s” car show, take place at New Castle’s Cascade Park. Wildflowers, waterfalls and other lush landscaping make the park a pleasant place to relax, and perhaps study. There are walking and hiking trails, bocce and horseshoe courts, a dance hall, and picnic pavilions.
Arts + Education at the Hoyt, a historic four-building complex, features art galleries, fine arts exhibits and a library.
Lawrence County is home to wineries and breweries. Tours and tastings are available. There is also a “Burger Trail” involving restaurants serving their own versions of the iconic sandwich.
Applying for admission to NCST is easy and almost certain to be successful. In some recent years, the school has reported a 100 percent acceptance rate.
Prospective students should download the NCST app and the Career Training Readiness Quiz. The test identifies goals, personal strengths, and the applicant’s potential career path.
A high school or general-education diploma is required.
Applicants must pay a fee, visit the campus, and take part in a personal interview.
The short, online application form includes the student’s address, contact information, education levels and employment history.
The form asks the following questions:
“What benefits are important to you and will help you decide where to pursue your new career?”
“What time of day would you prefer to attend classes?”
“What motivated you to continue your education?”
“Will your require financial assistance?”
“Are you a U.S. citizen or a resident alien?”
Credit for Life Experiences
Advanced Placement (AP)
High School GPA
High School Rank
High School Record
College Preparatory Program Completion
Standardized Test Scores
NCST is known for its overall value and affordability. In 2019, the net cost of attending the school was a bit more than half the amount at the average U.S. postsecondary institution.
The school provides an online net-price calculator to estimate tuition rates for prospective students. The tool also computes the cost of additional fees, as well as books and supplies; and takes into account scholarships and financial aid.
Family income and other factors play roles in determining the total expense. At last report, three of the most popular programs – electrician technology, welding and machine shop – were the least expensive.
Various tuition payment plans, including deferred payments, are available. NCST employees qualify for full or partial tuition waivers.
NCST boldly proclaims that education “should not only be a privilege, but a commonly realized right for all people,” adding that a “lack of financial resources should not be the determining factor in whether someone has the means to better themselves.”
In 2019, about 90 percent of those taking classes at the school benefited from some type of financial aid. To qualify, students generally must demonstrate financial need. Many receive Pell grants from the U.S. Department of Education. Federal supplemental education opportunity grants are available for those who cannot afford to continue their studies. The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency also awards grants based on financial need.
The federal government provides loans through the PLUS and Stafford programs. In addition, there is an alternative loan program that covers tuition.
Students may apply for a number of scholarships, as well.
New Castle offers 11 degree and certificate programs that take full-time students two to four years to complete, depending upon the field. Instruction takes place in classrooms, labs, shops and practical settings.
Students in the Automotive Technology program learn to operate heavy equipment. The Commercial Truck Driving course is for those seeking to become over-the-road or local drivers.
Electrical Technology students are trained in wiring and related disciplines. Those studying Machinist Technology learn to operate manual machines and modern technology.
The Diesel and Heavy Equipment Repair Technology program covers problem diagnosis, engine disassembly, and the replacement of parts. Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Technology students become proficient in installing and repairing HVAC equipment, as well as ductwork and sheet-metal fabrication.
Those studying Building Technology learn about residential construction and remodeling.
The other programs are Combination Welding, Industrial Maintenance of Wind and Solar Technology, and Motorcycle and Power Equipment Technology.
NCST operates in three locations. The original campus in Pulaski is a 45,000-square-foot building. Commercial truck driving and heavy-equipment operations classes are held there. The nearby 93,000-square-foot facility that opened in 2011 houses classrooms, a lab and offices.
The satellite campus in East Liverpool, Ohio, consists of two buildings with a total of 50,000 square feet. It is the home of the welding, commercial industrial maintenance, and truck driving programs. There are also offices and workshop spaces.
The school is widely praised for its hands-on training in real-world scenarios.
Faculty members teach all the classes. The graduation rate exceeds the average in Pennsylvania, and is about the same among trade school nationwide. Men make up the overwhelming majority of the student body.
American Indian or Alaska Native
Black or African American
Hispanic or Latino
Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islanders
Two or More Races
There are no official student groups or organized group activities on campus.
NCST enforces a strict dress code. All students must wear a uniform shirt, “neatly tucked in.” The only accepted type of hat is an official NCST cap, with the bill facing forward.
The school specifies that “trousers and pants should be clean and presentable, and should not be worn in a manner that would prevent freedom of movement.” Trousers must reach at least to the ankles because, according to the school, “excessively long pant legs which drag on the floor are a safety hazard.”
Shorts and sweat pants are forbidden, as are hooded sweatshirts. Students are required to wear “properly laced and tied safety leather boots.”
Steel-toed boots are mandatory, and safety glasses are necessary in certain settings.
NCST has earned high marks for student safety, student life and overall value. One reviewing site noted that the students automatically qualify for federal financial aid.
Many have lauded the school’s job-placement services, which include interview practice, resume assistance, professional development advisors, contacts with area employers, and campus visits by company representatives.
Education experts give NCST credit for its high acceptance, retention and graduation rates, all of which have exceeded 70 percent in recent years.
Students receive an impressive amount of help in paying their tuition, through grants, loans, scholarships, and part-time employment opportunities on campus.
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