Welcome to North American Trades!
For decades now post high school education always meant going to a traditional 4 year college. Only a select few chose a trade or vocational school. Those times are changing. If you’re a recent high school graduate, G.E.D. recipient or someone looking to gain experience in a new trade, then trade schools might be the right choice for you. However, choosing a trade school, much like choosing a college is a big decision and requires some information gathering. But where to start?
Separate Good from Bad
According to the U.S. Federal Trade commission
“While many of these schools are reputable and teach the skills necessary to get a good job, others may not be. They may promise more than they can deliver to increase enrollment — and their bottom line.
They may mislead prospective students about:
the salary potential of jobs in certain fields the availability of jobs the extent of their job training programs the qualifications of their staff the nature of their facilities and equipment their connections to businesses and industries”
It is very important to ask these types of questions when gathering information about trade schools. The key here get information from several schools!
What to Look For
The first step in your search for a quality, reputable, trade school is to gather information. Our site provides easy to use forms to help guide you to some choices that help fit your initial needs. Once you’ve filled out your form and received information from several schools what should you look for?
What Facilities Does the School Have?
If you’re going to be going to a campus you should schedule a visit. Check out the classroom settings and if you’re chosen trade requires a workshop, garage or other facility ask to see those too. Understand what tools they have available for you and how those tools relate to what is used out in the field today. A key point to understand is what you need to provide for your trade school program vs. what will the school provide. Since this might add extra costs to your education be sure to understand what is expected of you.
What Qualifications Do Your Instructors Have?
If you want to be a mechanic, your instructor should have qualifications proving they know engines. If you want to be a chef, your instructor should also be a chef. Be sure to ask. If your instructors aren’t qualified, you’re probably in the wrong place. You can even ask to sit in on a class and observe teaching styles for yourself. Never be afraid to ask the school for anything that will help you make your decision. This is a big decision for you and you need to be comfortable with the school you choose.
What is the Total Cost
There are a lot of things that can add up when it comes to any education. So it is important that you understand, what you’ll be paying for and how often. The Federal Trade Commission offers some great questions here:
“Will you pay by course, semester, or program? What about fees for dropping or adding a class? In addition to tuition, what will you pay for books, equipment, uniforms, lab fees, or graduation fees?
If you need financial assistance, find out whether the school provides it, and if so, what it offers. The U.S. Department of Education administers several major student aid programs in the forms of grants, loans, and work-study programs. About two-thirds of all student financial aid comes from these programs. Get details at studentaid.gov.”
School can be a big investment be sure to fully understand the costs and implications of receiving loans to pay for your education. Explore ALL of your options and get advice from others to make sure you’re signing up for something affordable.
Is the School Licensed and Accredited
Again the Federal Trade Commission offers some great advice:
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.
Accreditation usually is through a private education agency or association that has evaluated the program and verified that it meets certain requirements. Accreditation can be an important clue to a school’s ability to provide appropriate training and education — if the accrediting body is reputable. Your high-school guidance counselor, principal, or teachers, or someone working in the field you’re interested in, may be able to tell you which accrediting bodies have worthy standards.
You also can search online to see if a school is accredited by a legitimate organization. Two reliable sources to check are the:
Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs, posted by the U.S. Department of Education Council for Higher Accreditation database
Also find out whether two- or four-year colleges accept credits from the school you’re considering. If reputable schools and colleges say they don’t, it may be a sign that the vocational school is not well-regarded.”
Don’t Skim the Paperwork
When deciding on a school and a program carefully review the materials provided to you. You’ll want to know about cancellation policies, fees for dropping classes, and most importantly is what they told you verbally what they are agreeing to in writing. A good school should be open and honest. If this information isn’t available to you prior to enrollment, walk away.
Check for Complaints
The Better Business Bureau, Attorney General’s office, boards of Education and other entities may all receive complaints about a particular school. It is in your best interest to investigate what types of and how many complaints might be logged against a school. Do as much research as possible to ensure you’re making the right choice for your school.
If you haven’t already, now is the time to reach out to schools that might interest you. Using our sign up forms is a great way to start down the path of choosing the right school for you. Simply enter some basic information, click submit and you’re on your way!