Career training programs are offered at thousands of schools nationwide and are as varied as the jobs they can prepare you for! All those choices can be exciting—but it can also be overwhelming. If you’re not sure what you want to study or where you want to enroll, the Imagine America Foundation (IAF) has some resources that can help get you on the road to a new career.
IAF has a quick career assessment to help you figure out which of the four major occupation areas could be best for you: business and the arts, health care, information technology, and mechanical sciences. Each area has characteristics and benefits that might make one a better fit than the others, so take your time to figure out what makes the most sense for you!
Do you want to help people and their families? Consider health care! Do you enjoy building and repairing things with your hand? Check out mechanical programs. Are you interested in computers and new technologies? Information technology might be where you should go. Do you enjoy critical thinking and problem solving? Look at business and the arts!
Think about what you naturally enjoy doing, about skills that you already have, and about career paths that sound satisfying as a long-term option. Also take advantage of IAF’s information on different industries and career choices; we use the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to show students which programs are getting bigger, which industries are expected to grow over the next ten years, and what average salaries you can expect.
Once you have a program in mind, search for schools that match your interests. IAF can help you narrow the choices down by location, accreditation, schedule, and cost. Compare schools based on the criteria that matter most to you!
Some students may only want an online program, while others may prefer to visit a nearby campus for all their classes—and still others want a hybrid. This is often one of the first factors students consider when choosing a school.
Career colleges typically design their schedules to best accommodate working adults, but make sure you find a program that not only offers classes at convenient times—but also have terms that start and stop at times during the year that work with your schedule, including employment, kids’ school schedules, and more.
Accreditation can be very important in a number of ways, including reputation with future employers, quality of training, and eligibility for financial aid. Make sure that the school you choose is properly accredited—and that the program you select also maintains any program-specific accreditation to ensure its credibility and value.
Some schools and programs require that incoming students have one or more courses (or other activities, like having letters of recommendation or official copies of your transcripts) completed prior to enrollment. Check with the school’s enrollment center or your advisor to make sure you have done everything you need to in order to begin when school starts.