Career Colleges and
THINKING ABOUT GOING TO A CAREER COLLEGE OR TECHNICAL SCHOOL?
As college graduates lament the difficult job market, vocational school graduates have a hard time identifying with their problems. Why? Many vocational skills are in high demand, especially among medical professionals, skilled labor, and financial services.
Workers who are able to interact with the public in health care or social assistance situations will find the most demand for jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics identified this industry as the one expected to gain the most jobs this decade. All told, there should be 5.6 million new jobs for health care and social assistance, making it a high demand industry now and in the future. Jobs that fall under this category include work done in health offices, home health services, hospitals, residential care facilities, and day care services.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects to see rapid growth in the construction sector, an industry that’s poised to add 1.8 million jobs by 2020. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics identifies construction as one of the top industries for wage and salary employment growth, at a rate of 2.9%. Construction workers include electricians, elevator installers, building inspectors, and plumbers, to name a few, and median salaries can be as high as $70,000.
Students in manufacturing trade schools are in such high demand, they’re often hired even before they graduate. CNN reports that manufacturers are “begging” for more workers trained in advanced manufacturing skills, specifically with training in computer design, machine shop technology, and machine shop math. New hires with higher-level manufacturing skills can earn starting salaries of about $40,000 per year, and often earn up to $65,000 within two years. For some workers, that means earning more with vocational education than they might have earned with a four-year degree, and enjoying a higher demand to boot.
Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers are among the top occupations with the largest projected employment growth, with a nearly 21% expansion of the workforce expected by 2020. Most truck drivers simply require a high school diploma and short vocational education or on-the-job experience. But even with this low barrier to entry, the pay isn’t bad, with a median annual wage of $37,770.
Financial services are important now more than ever, and financial support staff are in high demand. This sector will grow from 1.9 million to 2.2 million by 2020, a 13.6% growth rate. Financial clerks are in demand in many different industries, including those that provide accounting, tax preparation, and bookkeeping. Many bookkeepers learn their schools through vocational training or on the job, quickly becoming qualified for a median annual wage of $34,030.
Pets are a part of many families, and taking great care of these family members means that vet techs are in great demand. By 2020, the vet tech labor force will swell with an incredible growth percentage of 52%. Vet techs can get started with a postsecondary program in veterinary technology that will allow them to become registered, licensed, or certified to practice in their state. Vet techs often earn around $29,000, but high earners can reach up to $44,000 per year.
Everyone has to eat, and not every meal can be prepared at home. That’s why food service is and continues to be such an in-demand vocational skill. Food service workers, cooks, and chefs all enjoy a healthy job outlook that remains steady or growing. Pay can vary widely depending on experience and the setting, but one thing is for sure: anyone with food service experience and training can almost certainly find a job.
Computer software and equipment is becoming increasingly more useful and complex, creating a steady and ever-growing need for computer support specialists, often called technical support specialists. With moderate on the job training or vocational education, computer support specialists can earn a median pay of $46,260 per year.
Preventive services are among the easiest most popular ways to care for teeth, and dental hygienists are responsible for many of these services, cleaning teeth, examining patients, and offering education. Dental hygienists typically require an associate’s degree in dental hygiene, and are paid well for their relatively short education: a median pay of $68,250 per year.
Beauty services are in high demand just about everywhere: people want to feel good about themselves, and barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists can help them do that. This industry has good growth and job security, with minimal training from state-approved cosmetology programs. The pay is not high, with a median annual salary of $22,500, but the opportunities are good, especially for those who are self-employed.
Employment of auto service technicians is poised to experience healthy growth, especially for those who have completed formal vocational training programs. The opportunities can be great, and the industry should add about 124,800 new jobs by 2020.
Click here for the main Oklahoma CareerTech Website!
During the 2014-2015 academic year . . .
Oklahoma's network of 29 technology centers on 59 campuses serves high school and adult learners with specialized career training in more than 90 instructional areas. High school students living in a technology center district attend tuition free, while adults are charged nominal tuition. Technology center students also are able to earn highly affordable and transferable college credit from area colleges in many career majors.
With the impact today's technology has upon the professional world, many students find themselves better prepared for college and careers after completing CareerTech instruction.
The following information is from The United States Department of Education Website. You can scroll for more information or click on the links below to go directly to the Department of Education website.
After high school, you can choose many different paths to continue your education. One path is to earn a certificate, degree, or diploma from a career college or technical school that will train you for a specific career, trade, or profession. Those schools train students for a variety of technical positions, including automotive technician, computer technician, hairstylist, medical assistant, truck driver, and many other fields.
This Web site gives you some questions you'll want to ask before enrolling in a career college or technical school. With so many schools to choose from, it's important that you know the kinds of questions to ask before enrolling. One key issue is whether the school is accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or licensed by the state in which it is located.
Career Colleges and Technical School - Finding Schools That Match Your Interests and Goals
Education beyond high school at a career or technical school can lead to a degree, diploma, or certificate in a variety of programs like computer programming, automotive technology, business administration and management, cosmetology, and interior design. Think carefully about what you want to do with your life. Find out as much as you can about the occupations that interest you by using the library and internet, or by talking to your high school guidance counselor or a representative at your local One-Stop Career Center.
With so many options, you'll want to find the program that best matches your natural skills, abilities, and interests in order to prepare for a successful career in the field of your choice. Here are some good resources:
The Department of Education's College Navigator Web site can help you search for career colleges and technical schools. Only schools accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education are able to enroll students who receive federal student financial aid.
Also, contact the licensing agency in the state where you want to go to school to find information on schools offering the training or program you're interested in. Those agencies can tell you whether the school you are considering is operating legally in the state or if the state requires the school to be licensed or certified in order to offer instruction. To find a state licensing agency use the Directory of Higher Education Officials.
Do you need to complete a specific education program to get an entry-level job in the field you are interested in? Do you need to get a license or certificate in order to work in your field of choice?
To get the answers to these questions, check with your high school guidance counselor, people already working in the field, and professional licensure agencies or certification organizations in your state. To find the certification requirements, and the certifying agencies for a variety of occupations, take a look at Career OneStop.
Also, find out if any special license or certification is needed to get a job in the field of your choice. If you need a certificate or license, ask any school you are considering if its graduates are eligible for licensure or certification after they complete its program.
It is also good to ask the school for the number of students who take and pass their licensing exams. Also, ask the school what percentage of its graduates find jobs in their field.
For more information about the skills and training you'll need for a particular job, look at these helpful web sites:
O*NET OnLine, an interactive Web-based tool providing information on skills and training required for different occupations.
Career Onestop, providing information on occupational trends and occupational skills, knowledge, and abilities.
Will employers accept the training as preparation for employment?
Call the employment office or human resources department of some businesses or companies where you might like to work. Ask if they expect employees to have a certificate or license in order to be hired. Also ask if they can recommend a career college or technical school that provides the training required for employment.
More information on schools that match your interests and goals.
Career Colleges and Technical Schools - Choosing a School
Is the school you are considering accredited and licensed?
Accrediting and state licensure agencies are gatekeepers that help make sure that you receive a quality education and get what you pay for. To learn more about accreditation and state licensure, read over the short descriptions below:
Accreditation is a good basic indicator of quality, although not every school chooses to be accredited. If a school is accredited by a nationally recognized agency, it means it has met certain quality standards established by the accrediting agency.
To find out if a school is accredited by a nationally recognized agency, check to see if the accrediting agency is included in the U.S. Department of Education's List of Nationally Recognized Accrediting Agencies.
More information on accreditation.
Most states have laws requiring that career colleges and technical schools be licensed or certified to offer instructional courses and programs. If a school has a license or certificate to operate, it means it has gone through a process to make sure that it meets certain standards. Some states do not require certain schools to be licensed or certified to operate legally in the state.
Ask for names and phone numbers of the school's licensing and accrediting organizations, and check with them to see whether the school is up-to-date. Licensing is handled by state agencies. In many states, private vocational schools are licensed through the state Department of Education. Truck driver training schools, on the other hand, may be licensed by the state transportation department. Ask the school which state agency handles its licensing.
What are the requirements for admission?
Are there minimum entry requirements at the career college or technical school you are considering? Is a high school diploma or GED required? Contact the school and ask about their admission requirements, or go to your local library and look up information on the school.
Will your coursework transfer to another school?
When looking for a school to attend, you may want to find out if your coursework will transfer to another school for academic credit. Courses you take in one school do not automatically transfer to another school. To find out whether coursework will transfer to another school, call the admissions or registrar's office and ask if the institution will accept credits from the career or technical school you are considering.
To learn more about transferring credits from one school to another, take a look at "The Student's Guide to Transfer of Credit" by The Distance Education and Training Council.
Is crime at the school a problem?
The number and type of criminal offenses reported by a college or school to the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE) can be an important factor to consider before enrolling in a school. Criminal offenses at over 6000 colleges, universities, and career and technical schools in the United States can be found on the OPE Campus Security Statistics Web site.
Should you visit the school?
Yes, visit the school you are considering. While you are at the school, get a copy of the school catalog and take some time to look at the equipment and facilities to see if they are similar to equipment that you will be using on the job.
Also, sit in on a class or two and talk to the instructor and current students. Here are some questions to ask that will give you first-hand knowledge about the school:
Finally, be a smart consumer--look at several schools that offer similar programs. Compare accreditation, program length, schedule, price (cost), course offerings, transferability of course credits, placement rates, financial aid availability, campus crime, and any other factors that are important to you.
Here are more resources to help you in choosing a school:
More Information on finding and choosing a school.
Career Colleges and Technical Schools - Paying for Your Education
How much will you pay for the program or training?
Be sure to ask any career college or technical school about the total price of the training or program you are interested in. Also, ask if there are items not included in the total price that you would have to buy in order to successfully complete the training or program. Does the price cover books, supplies, and equipment, if needed?
Prices for similar programs can be quite different from one school to another, so it's best to know ahead of time what it will cost you to get a certificate, degree, or diploma. Ask about the price of the program before any student aid, and then what it may cost if you get student aid.
Is financial assistance or student aid available?
An important question to ask a school you're interested in is whether financial assistance or student aid will be available to you. In particular, you might ask if the school participates in the federal student financial aid programs administered by the Department of Education. Also, ask if the Department of Veterans Affairs approves it for veterans educational benefits and whether or not a student is able to attend the school with funding from the Workforce Investment Act.
For more information on student financial aid, see:
The U.S. Department of Education's publication: Funding Education Beyond High School: The Guide to Federal Student Aid.
The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) Web site provides students with information onplanning for college and advice about finding and applying for financial aid.
The U.S. Department of Education's Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA), the fastest way to apply on-line for student financial aid.
The U.S. Department of Education's Rehabilitation Services Administration for grants and funding for individuals with disabilities.
Will you have to sign an enrollment contract?
If you make a decision to attend a career college or technical school, you will probably need to sign an enrollment contract. The contract will probably say that the school agrees to provide the program of instruction and other services outlined in the catalog and, in return, you agree to pay a certain sum of money and abide by the rules and regulations of the school.
Read the contract carefully and remember that the contract is a legally binding document between you and the school. Ask someone whose experience and advice you trust to review it with you. Make sure the contract specifically explains:
Don't sign a contract that has blanks in it. Read the entire document thoroughly before you sign, and do not sign unless you understand it. Once you have signed the agreement, be sure to keep a copy for your records.
What is the school's refund policy?
Take the time to review the refund policy published in the school's catalog. Every school is required to have a refund policy; however, policies will vary from state to state.
Career Colleges and Technical Schools - Special Considerations
If your program or training will be delivered "at a distance," you will want to find out as much about the school and the coursework as possible. It is important that you find out if the school is accredited by a nationally recognized agency.
To find out if the school's accrediting agency is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, take a look at the List of Nationally Recognized Accrediting Agencies.
To find out if the school is operating legally, contact the state licensing agency for your particular state or the state where the school is located.
More information on distance education.
Many career colleges and technical schools provide job placement assistance as part of their service. If the school does offer job placement assistance, ask about the job placement rates (the percent of graduates placed in jobs) and compare the placement rates with those of other schools. Ask for information about recent graduates, and find out where they went to work.
Whenever possible, ask former students about their experience at a school you are considering. Did the training they received prepare them for the job they wanted?
Unfortunately, there are some schools--often called "diploma mills"--that are more interested in taking your money than giving you a quality education. Information about how to avoid these types of schools can be found at:
U.S. Department of Education: Diploma Mills and Accreditation
Oregon Student Assistance Commission: Overview of diploma mills and a list of unaccredited colleges
Have students filed complaints against the school?
If you want to find out if any complaints have been filed against a school, you should contact one or more of the following authorities:
State Licensing Agencies - find the agency for your specific state or the state where the school is located
Accrediting Agencies - U.S. Department of Education's List of Nationally Recognized Accrediting Agencies
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) or other organizations can provide information regarding customer complaints in local areas. The BBB Web site lists local telephone numbers.
Career Colleges and Technical Schools - Useful Publications and Resources
U.S. Department of Education: Overview of Accreditation and List of Nationally Recognized Accrediting Agencies
"College is Possible" is a resource guide for parents, students, and education professionals.
The Department of Education's Federal Student Aid Web page provides a wide range of information for students thinking about education beyond high school, including preparing, choosing, applying, funding, attending, and repaying.
Collegeboard.com provides students with helpful information about finding a college, planning for college, getting into college, and paying for college.
USA.gov provides resources for education, online learning, schools, and financial aid. It also includes information on employment, job search tips, and volunteer opportunities.
Finding a School
The Department of Education has a searchable database of postsecondary educational institutions and programs accredited by accrediting agencies and state approval agencies recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education.
The Distance Education and Training Council: Is Distance Education For You?
Middle States Commission on Higher Education: Distance Education Programs: Interregional Guidelines for the Evaluation of Distance Education (Online Learning)
Degree.net: Books and guides on distance learning.
Geteducated.com: Information about accreditation, online learning guides, and diploma mills, including a diploma mill and accreditation FAQ.
Online Education: Directory of schools for students seeking accredited online degree programs.
Peterson's: The Lifelong Learning Channel: Provides an online database of distance learning programs and courses of study.