How to Choose a Vocational School near Anchorage Alaska
Choosing to enter into a new profession and enroll in a vocational school near Anchorage AK are important decisions that will profoundly impact your long term career. However with numerous trade schools to pick from, just how do you go about locating the right one? Not only do you need to make sure that you will get the comprehensive training required to be successful in your new profession, but also that the school is highly regarded and reputable. A number of students make the mistake of choosing a vocational school simply because the campus is closest to their residence or place of employment. Others may be attracted to the school that charges the most affordable tuition. Of course the location and cost of the training are significant considerations when evaluating trade school options, but they should not be the only ones. Other factors such as reputation and accreditation of the schools are critical also. So before you begin evaluating and comparing trade schools, you must know what questions you should be asking in order to get the information to make a final choice. We will review a few of those questions shortly in this article. But to start with, let’s talk about a few of the vocation options that are offered as well as the accessibility of online schools.
Vocational School Career Options near Anchorage AK
There are an abundance of trades to pick from in vocational schools that provide fulfilling and high paying careers. Possibly you have already decided on one that you have long wished to pursue. For example, perhaps you have always enjoyed working on your car and have considered utilizing that ability to earn a living as an auto mechanic. Or perhaps a relative has had a long and successful career in a certain trade or vocation and you would like to follow in his or her footsteps. Whatever your inspiration is for going into a trade, there is likely a program available that will give you the training that you need. Below is just a modest representation of the trade school programs that are offered in the Anchorage AK area.
- Automotive Technician
- Heating and Cooling (HVAC) Tech
- Truck Driver
- Aircraft Maintenance Tech
- Lab Technician
- Construction Management
All programs will have differing completion times and costs depending on the vocation, credential earned and school. A number of the programs may be completed in just weeks, while others will require months or even two or more years of instruction. All of these aspects must be taken into account prior to selecting a vocation and school.
Vocational Schools Online
Online schools have become very popular with Anchorage AK students and increasingly more accredited programs are becoming available. Even though online learning is a very convenient and accessible way to earn a degree or certificate, it might not be the ideal option for every vocation or trade. For instance, training to operate a semi truck is not something that you can do online, nor is learning how to weld. These are skills that must be mastered through hands on training and by doing it, not by reading about it or watching videos. But certain aspects of the training may be suitable for online education, such as learning safety and driving guidelines for trucking schools or studying metallurgy or how to read blueprints for welder schools. Some programs will incorporate online instruction with on campus lab work, for example for HVAC or plumbing schools. So it is very important to find out before choosing an online school for any vocation if there is an adequate amount of hands-on training devoted to the syllabus. One means to help establish est that a vocational school program is both suitable for online learning and delivers comprehensive hands-on training is to check that it’s accredited by a nationally acknowledged accrediting agency (more on accreditation later). For those vocations that are appropriate for training online, it can be a practical way for those with limited time to learn a new vocation.
Things to Ask Vocational Schools
Once you have decided on the vocation and type of degree or certificate that you want to acquire, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many trade schools in the Anchorage AK area and throughout the United States to select from. That’s why it is essential to have a checklist of important qualifiers when making school comparisons. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first two factors you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous Anchorage AK area vocational programs have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school’s programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Make certain that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you obtain a superior education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, a number of states require that the training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing where applicable.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a trade school near Anchorage AK is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a big plus. However, even the top schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers.
Completion Rates. Ask the vocational schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate might suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It may also indicate that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It’s similarly imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which can mean more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of contacts to assist grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs in the Anchorage AK area.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most training programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of contractors or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with Anchorage AK area specialists in the field. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the specialist you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Anchorage AK company if they can provide some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s important that you receive as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to some of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with some of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is in Alaska and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Anchorage AK, check that the schools you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Considering a Trade School near Anchorage AK?
If you are looking at a trade school near Anchorage AK, following is some interesting and relevant information regarding the location of your future school campus that may help you in making your decision.
Anchorage (officially called the Municipality of Anchorage; Dena'ina: Dgheyaytnu) is a unified home rule municipality in the U.S. state of Alaska. With an estimated 298,192 residents in 2016, it is Alaska's most populous city and contains more than 40 percent of the state's total population; among the 50 states, only New York has a higher percentage of residents who live in its most populous city. All together, the Anchorage metropolitan area, which combines Anchorage with the neighboring Matanuska-Susitna Borough, had a population of 401,635 in 2016, which accounts for more than half of the state's population. At 1,706 square miles of land area, the city is the fourth largest city by land in the United States and larger than the smallest state, Rhode Island, at 1,212 square miles.
Anchorage is in the south-central portion of Alaska, at the terminus of the Cook Inlet, on a peninsula formed by the Knik Arm to the north and the Turnagain Arm to the south. The city limits span 1,961.1 square miles (5,079.2 km2) which encompass the urban core, a joint military base, several outlying communities and almost all of Chugach State Park.
Due to its location, almost equidistant from New York City, Frankfurt, and Tokyo, Anchorage lies within 9 1⁄2 hours by air of nearly 90% of the industrialized world. For this reason, the Anchorage International Airport is a common refueling stop for many international cargo flights and home to a major FedEx hub, which the company calls a "critical part" of its global network of services.
Pick the Right Trade School
Finding the ideal trade school near Anchorage AK is a critical first step toward a gratifying career in the vocation of your choice. As we have covered in this article, you should choose a technical school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the field. Other things to look for are sufficient hands-on training and modern facilities. You should check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling options and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don’t forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you’ll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed professional in your chosen trade.
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