Catawba County has an educated and skilled workforce of over 396,000 within a 45-minute drive.

Education and technical training continue to be high priorities for Catawba County.  This commitment is evidenced by the presence of three public school systems — Catawba County Schools, Hickory Public Schools and Newton-Conover City Schools — in addition to 12 private schools.  

K-12 Public School Enrollment - 2019-2020
District Schools Enrollment
Catawba County Schools 28 15,656
Hickory City Schools 9 4,049
Newton-Conover City Schools 7 2,888
Source:  NC Department of Public Instruction, NC Schools Report Card
K-12 Non-Public School Enrollment - 2019-2020
  Schools Enrollment
Non-Public Schools 12 1,713
Source:  NC Dept. of Admin., Div. of Non-Public Educ., 2020-2021 Directory of Non-Public Schools

Students at one of Catawba County's 43 public schools study math equations. - Photo by Eckard Photographic

Public Schools SAT Scores - 2021
  #Tested %Tested Math ERW Total
US 1,251,753 NA 514 524 1038
NC 21,416 21.3 572 575 1147
Catawba 185 17.2 566 564 1130
Hickory 58 25.3 546 556 1103
Newton-
Conover
40 18.2 537 552 1088
Source:  NC Department of Public Instruction, 2021 SAT Performance by District & School
Public Schools ACT Scores - 2020-2021
 
#Tested
Composite
Mean
English Mean
(Met
Benchmark)
Math Mean
(Met
Benchmark)
Reading Mean
(Met
Benchmark)
Science Mean
(Met
Benchmark)
Met all 4
Benchmarks
NC
86,953
18.2
16.7
(40.0%)
18.3
(24.2%)
18.9
(34.0%)
18.6
(23.5%)
15.7%
Catawba
970
18.1
16.5
(39.5%)
18.4
(22.5%)
18.5
(31.0%)
18.6
(23.6%)
13.7%
Hickory
214
17.5
15.8
(35.5%)
17.6
(20.1%)
18.3
(32.7%)
17.9
(22.9%)
15.4
Newton-
Conover
188
18.8
17.4
(46.8%)
18.7
(23.9%)
19.4
(36.2%)
19.1
(20.7%)
16.5
Source:  NC Department of Public Instruction, ACT Results
Public School Post High School Intentions - 2020-2021
 
Catawba
Hickory
Newton-
Conover
      Total
Public Sr. Institution
277
(24.4%)
81
(29.7%)
42
(18.3%)
400
(24.4%)
Private Sr. Institution
111
(9.8%)
26
(9.5%)
17
(7.4%)
154
(9.4%)
Community College
461
(40.7%)
100
(36.6%)
108
(47.0%)
669
(40.9%)
Private Jr. College
2
(0.2%)
-
1
(0.4%)
3
(0.2%)
Trade Business School
11
(1.0%)
1
(0.4%)
-
12
(0.7%)
Military
33
(2.9%)
2
(0.7%)
1
(0.4%)
36
(2.2%)
Employment
201
(17.7%)
61
(22.3%)
61
(26.5%)
323
(19.7%)
Other
38
(3.4%)
2
(0.7%)
-
40
(2.4%)
Totals
1,134
273
230
1,637
Source:  NC Department of Public Instruction, Statistical Profile for 2020-2021



Higher Education

Catawba County is home to Lenoir Rhyne University, a four-year liberal arts school and Catawba Valley Community College ranked #1 out of NC's 58 community colleges by Niche.com in 2017 and ranked #3 out of all community colleges in the nation for 2019 by SmartAsset. Catawba Valley Community College has established a Furniture Academy and a Manufacturing Academy.  

Catawba Valley Community College's commitment to solving workforce needs for local industries is evident in the creation of these academies and its Workforce Solutions Complex.  A culmination of many years of planning and collaboration with the three public school systems, this $23 million dollar, 86,000 square foot facility houses technology and engineering programs for college students, and junior & senior high school students from all schools in Catawba County.  Business-driven programs include:  Computer Engineering Technology, Electrical Engineering Technology, Computer Integrated Machining, Electronics Engineering Technology, Welding, Mechanical Engineering Technology, Mechatronics, and Robotics

Additionally, the Appalachian State University Center at Hickory is a joint education center offering graduate and undergraduate degrees, non-credit certificate courses, research, and specialized workforce training through such universities as Appalachian State University, NC State University, and the University of North Carolina. The new NC Center for Engineering Technologies provides facilities for applied research in engineering related fields and serves as a conduit to baccalaureate education delivered by the University of North Carolina system schools.

Lenoir-Rhyne University students take a break on the lawn outside the student center.

Colleges & Universities within 50 miles of Catawba County

University of North Carolina Campuses (Fall 2020)
 Institution  City Total Enrollment  Distance 
Appalachian State University (ASU) Boone 20,023 43
UNC - Charlotte Charlotte 30,146 50
Source:  National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator
Community Colleges (2017-2018)
Institution City Curriculum Enrollment Curriculum & 
Continuing Educ.
Distance
Caldwell CC & TI Hudson 4,688 10,709 11
Catawba Valley CC Hickory 6,126 14,307 -
Cleveland CC Shelby 3,888 9,243 44
Central Piedmont CC Charlotte 27,611 52,963 46
Gaston College Dallas 7,421 18,518 22
McDowell TCC Marion 1,428 5,867 46
Mitchell CC Statesville 4,325 8,982 17
Rowan-Cabarrus CC Salisbury 7,969 19,902 46
Western Piedmont CC Morganton 2,360 8,566 20
Source:  NC Community College System, Annual Statistical Report

 

Independant Colleges & Universities (Fall 2020)
Institution City Enrollment Distance
Belmont Abbey College Belmont 1,467 33
Cabarrus College of Health Sciences Concord 526 43
Catawba College Salisbury 1,371 43
Davidson College Davidson 1,983 32
Gardner-Webb University Boiling Springs 3,536 40
ASU Center at Hickory Hickory Seated - 105 -
    Online - 842 -
Johnson C. Smith University Charlotte 1,306 44
Lenoir-Rhyne University Hickory 2,686 -
Livingstone College Salisbury 845 46
NC Ctr for Eng. Tech. Hickory 50 -
Pfeiffer University Charlotte 1,185 47
Queens University of Charlotte Charlotte 2,338 47
Source:  National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator