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Trade Schools

Career and technical schools offer a variety of training programs to meet business needs. Courses vary in length and in cost. Some examples are automotive mechanics, business, communication technology, computer science, cosmetology, drafting, engineering technology, environmental technology, nursing and truck driving.

Public or Private?

For some students, a private school may be more appropriate than a public one. Private conservatories of music permit a student to specialize more narrowly in the study of music than do public schools. Private schools may save time; for example, private beauty schools offer cosmetology as a ten-month course, whereas the program at community colleges may require two years. Costs can range from $300 to $25,000; the length of a course can vary from a few weeks to two years. Since similar training may be available at a Regional Occupational Program or a community college, compare costs, time and reputations of school programs before making a decision.

Checking Out a School

Numerous private schools exist; many are excellent. However, some are better at advertising than they are at teaching. Students must carefully evaluate schools to obtain the best training.

  • Read materials available at your school.
  • Find out if a school's courses are current, accredited and appropriate for you.
  • Find out how long the training will take and how much it will cost (tuition, fees, supplies, books).
  • Calculate the cost of living near the school.
  • Find out about the school's equipment. Is it current? How much hands-on use?
  • Ask employers if they hire graduates of the school and what they think about it.
  • Find out how long the school has been in operation, how large it is, what its placement rate and services are, and when it was last accredited.
  • Compare schools in terms of all of the above.
  • Discuss your findings with your counselor and parents before you decide.

Approval and Accreditation

The Bureau for Private Postsecondary and Vocational Education in the Department of Consumer Affairs is the state agency responsible for overseeing and approving private postsecondary schools. Approval means that the Bureau has determined that an institution meets the minimum standards for integrity, financial stability, and educational quality, including the offering of bona fide instruction by qualified faculty and the appropriate assessment of students' achievement. Call (916) 445-3427 to find out about a school.

Approval should not be confused with accreditation. Accreditation can provide information about the school's curriculum and instruction. Standards are established by an accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education. Since there are numerous accrediting agencies, identify the one that accredits a school and contact it for information about the school.

Internet Resources

U.S. Listings

California Listings


Advice on Choosing
www.dca.ca.gov/bppve/students_consumers/ editorial/bppveabc.pdf