You can choose to earn a certificate, degree, or diploma from a private career or technical school, also known as trade schools. These schools train you for a variety of technical positions, including automotive technician, computer technician, hairstylist, medical assistant, truck driver, and many others.
Be sure to research whether or not the school is accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and/or licensed by the state of California. The California Student Aid Commission is required to determine if an institution of higher education is eligible to participate in the Cal Grant Program. The website provides both lists of eligible and ineligible schools, and a search tool.
Trade Schools Databases
- California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education. The Bureau determines whether the school meets minimum standards for integrity, financial stability, and educational quality.
- RWM Vocational School Database. This vocational schools database provides information on private postsecondary vocational schools in all 50 states. It is organized first by state, then by training occupation.
Consumer Protections and Trade Schools
- California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education
- Federal Trade Commission “Choosing a Career or Vocational School”
Before enrolling in one of these programs, make a cost comparison to see if these programs are offered for considerably less tuition at your local community college. Some programs might be completed faster in a private school, in which case you’ll have to compare the total cost for a ten-month private cosmetology program versus a two-year program in a community college.
Here are some of the questions you should ask a school:
- Is the school accredited by one of the numerous accrediting bodies in the United States?
- Are the school’s courses current and appropriate for you?
- How long will the training take?
- What is the total cost of the program including tuition, fees, supplies, and books?
- Is the equipment current and how much “hands-on” use will you actually get on it?
- Have you thoroughly read the available program material provided by the school?
- Have you toured the school? What were your impressions?
- How long has the school been in business? When was it last accredited?
- Does the school help place you in a job? What is the typical starting salary?
- If you are living away from home, how much will it cost you for room and board?
- Have you asked current and past students about how they liked their experiences at the school?
- Have you asked potential employers if they would hire graduates of the school and what they think of them?
- Have you researched other schools and compared them?
- Have you discussed your research with your parents or guardian and counselor before making a final decision?