Vocational School Training
How to Find the Best One Near Fairbanks Alaska
Enrolling in a trade school near Fairbanks AK with the final goal of beginning a new profession can be a life altering accomplishment that requires prior due diligence and careful planning. But exactly how do you accomplish locating the right one with so many vocational schools to select from? Of course you must select a school that is highly regarded and reputable so you can be assured that you will obtain the extensive training needed to succeed in your new occupation. Some prospective students make the mistake of choosing a trade school just because the campus is closest to their residence or place of employment. Or they might be attracted to the one that charges the most affordable tuition. But there are other important criteria apart from cost and location that must be part of the due diligence process as well. For instance, you must find out if the vocational schools have earned accreditation, or if they provide job placement assistance. So before you begin evaluating and comparing trade schools, you must know what questions to ask so you can get the information to make a final selection. We will cover several of those questions shortly in this post. But to start with, let's talk about a few of the vocation options that are available including the accessibility of online schools.
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Vocational School Training Options
There are a number of professions to select from in vocational schools that offer gratifying and good paying careers. Possibly you have already selected one that you have long wished to pursue. For instance, perhaps you have always enjoyed working on your car and have thought about utilizing that skill to make a living as an automotive tech. Or maybe a family member has had a prosperous career in a specific trade or vocation and you would love to follow in his or her footsteps. Regardless of what your inspiration is for entering a trade, there is probably a program offered that will give you the training you need. Following is merely a small representation of the trade school programs that are available in the Fairbanks AK area.
- Auto Mechanic
- Heating And Air Conditioning (HVAC) Tech
- Electrical Technician
- Truck Driving
- Aircraft Maintenance Tech
- Lab Tech
- Construction Management
All programs will have differing completion times and costs based upon the vocation, credential earned and school. Many of the programs may be completed in just weeks, while others will require several months or even two or more years of training. Each of these variables need to be considered prior to choosing a trade and a school.
Online Trade Schools
Online schools have become very popular with Fairbanks AK students and a growing number of accredited programs are being offered. While online learning is a readily available and practical way to acquire a degree or certificate, it may not be the ideal option for all trades or vocations. For example, training to operate a semi truck is not something that you can accomplish online, nor is learning how to weld. These are skills that need to be acquired through practical training and by doing it, not by reading about it or watching videos. But certain elements of the training may be suitable for online learning, for example learning safety and driving regulations for truck driving schools or studying metallurgy or how to read blueprints for welding schools. Some programs will blend online instruction with on-campus lab work, for example for electrician or welding schools. So it is very important to determine before enrolling in an online school for any vocation if there is an appropriate amount of hands-on training allocated to the course of study. One way to help establish that a vocational school program is both appropriate for online learning and provides comprehensive practical training is to confirm that it's accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency (more on accreditation later). For those vocations that are appropriate for online training, it can be a practical way for individuals with limited time to acquire a new trade.
Things to Ask Vocational School Programs
After you have picked the trade and type of degree or certificate that you want to acquire, either on campus or online, you can begin to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many technical schools in the Fairbanks AK area and all over the United States to select from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of key qualifiers when making school comparisons. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first 2 variables you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many Fairbanks AK area trade programs have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Confirm that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you get an excellent education, it may assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many states require that the training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing where applicable.
How Long in Business? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a vocational school near Fairbanks AK is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a big plus. On the other hand, even the top schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers.
Completion Rates. Ask the vocational schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate may signify that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It could also mean that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which can result in more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of contacts to help graduates secure apprenticeships or employment in the Fairbanks AK area.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of technical programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of contractors or trade unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with Fairbanks AK area companies in the trade. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the specialist you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Fairbanks AK contracting company if they can provide some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Talk to several of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to some of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is in Alaska and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Fairbanks AK, confirm that the schools you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Find the Right Fairbanks Vocational School
Selecting the right trade school near Fairbanks AK is an important first step toward a rewarding career in the vocation of your choice. As we have covered in this article, you should select a trade school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the profession. Other things to search for are sufficient practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling choices and if evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed professional in your chosen trade.