Pin Me

What is a Career College?

written by: Melinda F.•edited by: Amanda Grove•updated: 7/1/2010

Just what is a career college? Career colleges offer unique opportunities that many traditional universities and college don't. Read on to find out what they are and how they can work for you.

  • slide 1 of 5

    Higher education is fast becoming the most successful route to financial stability. While many people are aware of traditional universities and colleges, many are wondering what the other options are. Career colleges offer unique opportunities for people to pursue careers outside the traditional university environment. This article will answer the questions of “what is a career college” and “what are the advantages of a career college.”

  • slide 2 of 5

    What Is It?

    A career college, also known as a vocational school, is a school that offers classes geared towards a career where practical knowledge and experience can outweigh a traditional degree. Programs such as automotive technology, medical assisting, information technology, nursing, criminal justice, or cosmetology are often offered through career colleges.

    Program requirements and results can vary from school to school. Depending on the program you are pursuing, the outcome of completing the program may be a certificate, associate degrees, or Bachelors degrees. For some programs there may be a field experience or apprenticeship attached to the program.

  • slide 3 of 5

    The Advantages

    Career colleges can be extremely useful for a variety of reasons. For many people, the traditional four-year college model is unrealistic due to financial reasons. Careers colleges offer narrowly focused programs, eliminating the general education requirements that most colleges have. This can considerably lower the cost as well as the time requirement to finish the program. Government financial aid is also made available to students of career colleges.

    For some people, lecture based classes are difficult to sit through without daydreaming. Career colleges offer more hands on training in small class sizes. If you are the type of person that likes to work with your hands, a career college might be a more practical step toward higher education.

    Career colleges offer practical life experience. Through fieldwork and apprenticeships, students are able to experience their future career first hand. This gives them the practical experience necessary to succeed immediately after being hired by an employer.

  • slide 4 of 5

    What To Look for

    It is important to do significant research on any career college before enrolling. Look into the program you plan to apply to and see if the career college is nationally accredited in that field. In the past, some career colleges had offered subpar instruction, leading to a bad reputation in the field of vocational training. Through the accreditation process, schools are able to prove their curriculum is acceptable.

    Call the Better Business Bureau to verify that your school has no complaints set against it. Likewise, ask for contact information of recent graduates of your intended program and ask for feedback on their experience. Compare the cost and benefits of the intended career college with the local community college. It is also important to consider whether the skills you will be learning could be learned “on the job” rather than at a vocational school.

    Visit the school you are looking into. Ask about class size, technology, online classes, and other services that are provided. Make plans to speak with a professor and discuss your plans with an advisor, if possible.

    Like any major life decision, going to a career college is a major step. However, with a little research and planning, it can be a successful move for those looking for a more focused path to post-secondary education.

  • slide 5 of 5


    Bocco, Diana. "What Is a Vocational School?" WiseGEEK: Clear Answers for Common Questions. Web. 16 June 2010. <>.

    "CCA | What Is a Career College?" CCA | Home. Career College Association. Web. 16 June 2010.<>.

    "Choosing a Career or Vocational School." Federal Trade Commission. Federal Trade Commission, May 2001. Web. 16 June 2010. <>.

    "Trade Schools: Accredited Vocational School Trade School Technical Career Vocational Education Training." Higher Education Career Training: Universities Colleges Education Accredited Online Universities Web. 16 June 2010. <