How do I find a reputable trade school?

Have you heard horror stories concerning trade schools? In some instances, students have been misled about certain aspects of attending a trade or vocational school. For example, the extent of their training programs, among other things, are sometimes overstated to get the student’s attention and tuition.

Here are a few points to consider:

Check for licensing and accreditation. You should check with your state’s Department of Education to see which schools are licensed in your area. Accreditation requirements assure you that the school has been verified as meeting certain goals related to the training and education you deserve. And… if at some point, you might consider continuing your education through a traditional college or university, check with area colleges to see if they accept credits from your trade school. If not, this may be a red flag for you, as the trade school may not have a good reputation.

Check for references or complaints against the school you are considering. The state’s Attorney General’s Office or Department of Education that the school is located in can often give you information about how many and what types of complaints, if any, have been reported and if they were resolved.

You may want to check out the school’s facilities, as well. If possible, take a campus tour to see their classroom settings. Ask about the equipment they use to see if it is in line with today’s current workplace equipment. You may want to do a little investigating for yourself by contacting companies in your area about what types of equipment they use before going on a campus tour, so you will know what to look for.

While you are visiting the campus, see if you can sit in on a class. Observe the teaching process. Inquire about the instructor’s credentials. Are they experienced? Do they keep your interest? Take note of how the students are reacting and participating in class.

Inquire about other’s experiences. Ask for a list of recent graduates that might be willing to give you their thoughts about the school. What is the completion rate? If most attendees end up dropping out before completing the program, that is a big red flag, most definitely. In addition, some trade schools may tend to exaggerate their job placement rate and starting salaries expected upon graduation. Again, ask about these statistics and check with past graduates, if possible.

Whether you are attending on-campus or online classes, you must know the complete cost of the program. Nobody likes surprises when it comes to costs, so, understand completely what you are paying for up front. Will you be charged for each class, each semester, or one-lump sum for the complete program? Are books, tools, and the other equipment provided in the costs? Do you need a uniform? Are additional lab fees required or included, if applicable?

Do you need financial aid to help you pay for your program? Most institutions offer payment plans and reputable schools are willing to help you find an option that you can handle with ease, however, you must be diligent in reviewing your contract before signing. Verify the amount you are borrowing, the interest rate, your exact payment and the exact terms of repayment. What will late fees be? Do payments begin now or after graduation? If you drop out of your program, you will still be responsible for paying back your loan in full, whether you finish the program or not.

To summarize, please do extensive research about any trade school you are considering before enrolling, to ensure your success. If you are interested in a technical education, please see our Online Trade and Vocational Schools Directory and our choices for 30 High Paying Trade School Degrees.