Career School vs. College: 5 questions to ask when planning your education

career school vs. collegeOnline resources are helpful when considering attending career school vs. college

Making a decision about your education is an important step in your life. Will you go to community college? Or a nearby university? What about a trade school or vocational school? Or a career school?

There are many resources available to help you choose the path that is best for you. Below are some useful resources, as well as questions you might want to think about when considering career school vs. college or other educational options.

1. What career do I want?
Thinking about your career field may be the first step to deciding on whether to choose career school vs. college. One helpful resource for learning about career options is the Occupational Outlook Handbook, published by the U.S. Department of Labor. In a comprehensive list of careers from A to Z, this handbook describes hundreds of careers. It includes information on the education you will need, the types of wages to expect, and the job outlook for the future.

2. How do I get trained for my career?
Once you have narrowed down your career field, you may want to compare the pros and cons of career schools vs. college. What is the difference between the two? Most career schools offer select career-focused programs that will start you on your way to a new career quickly, such as medical assistant programs, dental assistant training, medical billing training, and other similar options. These programs provide hands-on training in the skills you need for the job.

Most colleges offer a much wider range of career options than a career school, and require that you take additional basic education courses that result in a longer commitment of time. Two-year colleges offer associate’s degrees, and four-year colleges and universities offer bachelor’s degrees and higher. Depending on the career you choose and the education it requires, you will want to consider what kind of school will work best for you.

3. Career Schools vs. College: How much time do I want to spend in school?
Consider how much time you want to spend in school. Most colleges require a two-year or four-year commitment in order to earn a degree, such as an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree. Career schools do not offer these degrees, but they usually offer programs that can be completed in less than one year, and are targeted to getting students started in certain job fields. Depending on the level of education your chosen job field requires, a career school may be a possibility for you if you do not want to spend two or four years in school.

4. How much is tuition?
As higher education prices continue to increase, many people need to apply for financial aid to support their education. A good resource for finding out more about financial aid is the Federal Student Aid program. When considering attending career school vs. college, in most cases you will find that a one-year career-focused program will be less costly than a two-year or four-year college program. Depending on your needs and concerns, this may be an important factor in your decision.

5. How do I find out more about careers schools and colleges?
Once you have thought about your career field and the kind of education you will need, it’s time to start looking at schools. One helpful tool for learning about school possibilities is the College Navigator, published by the National Center for Education Statistics. This website includes career schools, vocational schools, tech schools, colleges, and universities. You can search for schools by zip code, type of degree, and number of years. This resource can be a good way to start your research process before choosing a school.

With these tips, we hope you are well on your way to thinking about your educational future. Your education is very important, so remember, take your time while doing your research and consider what works best for you.