If you are considering enrolling in a technical college to earn a post-secondary certificate, you’re not alone. The number of post-secondary certificates awarded to students increased by 35 percent¹ between 2004-05 and 2014-15, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. In 2015, more than 1.4 million technical and occupational certificates and associates degrees were awarded, making up nearly 40 percent of the total number of undergraduate educational credentials given out that year.
Earning a certificate from a technical school can improve your chances of finding a job and also lead to more income. People who earn a post-secondary certificate typically earn about 20 percent more than people who didn’t finish high school¹.
Finding the right technical college is the first step towards earning industry certification in a field that interests you. Although there are many technical schools out there, they don’t all offer the same things in terms of quality. Not all technical colleges are reputable, according to the Federal Trade Commission². Some promise more than they end up delivering. If you are considering enrolling in a technical college, pay attention to the following.
What Programs Does the Technical College Offer?
What career interests you the most? It’s important to review the programs offered by a technical college to verify that it has a certificate that will help you get a career in your desired field.
Once you’ve verified that the school offers a program you are interested in, find out more about what goes into the program. Who are the teachers, what is the typical class size, and how long does it take the average student to earn a certificate?
Is the School Accredited?
When a school is accredited, it meets certain quality levels. You can think of accreditation as a stamp of approval from an outside organization that the school is going to provide a valuable and useful education.
Accreditation typically comes from a nationally recognized agency, such as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the Council on Occupational Education. Accrediting agencies usually have a set of evaluating criteria that they use to determine whether or not a school is “up to snuff.”
You can search the Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs to find out if a technical college you are interested in is accredited.
Along with accreditation, it’s also a good idea to confirm that the technical college is licensed by the state it’s in to provide education and certificate programs.
What Happens to Students After Graduation?
Learning more about what happens to the typical student after they finish their career certificate program can help you decide if a particular technical college is right for you. Since you are most likely considering going to a technical college to start a new career or advance in your current one, it’s important to look at how many students end up employed after graduating. Even more important is to look at how many students end up employed in their field of study.
How Much Do the School’s Programs Cost?
Technical college costs can vary considerably. For example, a public technical school, like Orange County Public Schools’ Orange Technical College, might only cost a few thousand dollars per year while a private, for-profit technical school might cost nearly $20,000 per year³.
Most schools will provide you with a breakdown of the cost of tuition and fees, as well as an estimated total cost for the program and what, if any, aid programs (such as scholarships and grants) are available to you.
What Are the School’s Facilities Like?
It’s a good idea to pay a visit to any technical colleges you’re considering applying to. Visiting the school will give you an idea of what its classrooms and lab spaces are like. It will also give you a chance to meet with instructors and fellow students. Talking to current students and teachers in the program will give you a good sense of what it’s really like to take classes there.
Orange Technical College is a public institution with five campuses in Avalon Park, Downtown Orlando, South Orlando, Winter Garden, and Winter Park, Florida. We offer career certificates in a wide range of technical and occupational fields, including health sciences, manufacturing, information technology, and hospitality. If you are ready to move forward in your career, request more information about our programs and campuses today.
- “Trends in Subbaccalaureate Educational Awards: 2003-2015,” National Center for Education Statistics, https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2018/2018010.pdf
- “Choosing a Vocational School,” The Federal Trade Commission Consumer Information, https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0241-choosing-vocational-school
- “8 Facts That Will Make You Think Twice Before Enrolling at a For-Profit College,” The Century Foundation, https://tcf.org/content/facts/8-facts-will-make-think-twice-enrolling-profit-college/?agreed=1