How to Choose a Vocational School near Fairbanks Alaska
Choosing to begin a new profession and enroll in a vocational school near Fairbanks AK are important decisions that will greatly impact your future career. But with numerous trade schools to choose from, just how do you undertake finding the right one? Not only do you need to make certain that you will receive the comprehensive training necessary to succeed in your new occupation, but also that the school is reputable and well regarded. Some prospective students make the mistake of enrolling in a vocational school just because the campus is nearest to their home or place of employment. Or they may be attracted to the one that has the lowest tuition. Of course the cost and location of the training are important factors when evaluating trade school options, but they should not be the sole ones. Added variables such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools are important as well. So before you begin evaluating and comparing trade schools, you must know what questions you should be asking so you can get the information to make a final choice. We will cover several of those questions shortly in this post. But first, let’s look at a few of the vocation options that are available including the accessibility of online programs.
Vocational School Training Options near Fairbanks AK
There are a number of professions to choose from in vocational schools that provide gratifying and good paying careers. Possibly you have already chosen one that you have for years desired to pursue. For instance, perhaps you have always enjoyed working on your car and have considered utilizing that talent to make a living as a car mechanic. Or maybe a relative has had a long and successful career in a particular trade or vocation and you would love to follow in her or his footsteps. Whatever your inspiration is for going into a trade, there is probably a program offered that will give you the training you need. Below is just a modest representation of the trade school programs that are offered in the Fairbanks AK area.
- Automotive Technician
- Heating and Cooling (HVAC) Tech
- Truck Driving
- Aircraft Maintenance Tech
- Lab Tech
- Construction Management
Each of the programs will have differing completion times and costs based upon the trade, type of credential and school. Some of the programs may be completed in just weeks, while others will call for several months or even two or more years of instruction. All of these elements must be taken into account prior to selecting a vocation and school.
Vocational Schools Online
Trade Schools online have become very popular with Fairbanks AK students and a growing number of accredited programs are being offered. Although online learning is a readily available and practical way to obtain a certificate or degree, it might not be the best option for every vocation or trade. For instance, learning to drive a semi truck is not something that you can accomplish online, nor is learning how to weld. These are skills that have to be acquired through hands on training and by doing it, not by reading about it or watching videos. But certain aspects of the training may be appropriate for online education, such as learning driving and safety guidelines for truck driving schools or learning about metallurgy or how to read blueprints for welder schools. Many programs will combine online education with on campus practical training, such as for HVAC or plumbing schools. So it is crucial to find out before enrolling in an online program for any vocation if there is an adequate amount of hands-on training allocated to the syllabus. One way to help ensure that a vocational school program is both appropriate for online studying and delivers comprehensive hands-on training is to verify that it’s accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting organization (more on accreditation later). For those trades that are appropriate for training online, it can be a convenient way for individuals with time constraints to learn a new trade.
What to Ask Trade Schools
When you have selected the vocation and type of certificate or degree that you want to earn, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous technical schools in the Fairbanks AK area and throughout the USA to pick from. That’s why it is imperative to have a list of key qualifiers when making school evaluations. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial two aspects you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous Fairbanks AK area trade schools have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school’s programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Confirm that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you receive a quality education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, some states mandate that the training program be accredited for it to be approved for licensing where applicable.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help determine the quality of a vocational school near Fairbanks AK is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a big plus. Having said that, even the top schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications.
Completion Rates. Ask the trade 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 lower completion rate could signify that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It could also indicate that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It’s similarly essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of contacts to help grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs in the Fairbanks AK area.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of training programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of contractors or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with Fairbanks AK area companies in the field. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the technician you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Fairbanks AK company if they can give you some tips. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within driving distance of your residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s desirable that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Speak to some of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is in Alaska and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Fairbanks AK, verify that the programs you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering a Trade School near Fairbanks AK?
If you are looking at a trade school near Fairbanks AK, following is some interesting and relevant information regarding the location of your future school campus that may help you in making your decision.
Fairbanks is the largest city in the Interior region of Alaska. 2016 estimates put the population of the city proper at 32,751, and the population of the Fairbanks North Star Borough at 100,605, making it the second most populous metropolitan area in Alaska (after Anchorage). The Metropolitan Statistical Area encompasses all of the Fairbanks North Star Borough and is the northernmost Metropolitan Statistical Area in the United States, located 196 driving miles (or 140 air miles) south of the Arctic Circle. Fairbanks is home to the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the founding campus of the University of Alaska system.
Though there was never a permanent Alaska Native settlement at the site of Fairbanks, Athabascan peoples have used the area for thousands of years. An archaeological site excavated on the grounds of the University of Alaska Fairbanks uncovered a Native camp about 3,500 years old. From evidence gathered at the site, archaeologists surmise that Native activities in the area were limited to seasonal hunting and fishing. In addition, archeological sites on the grounds of nearby Fort Wainwright date back 10,000 years. Arrowheads excavated from the University of Alaska Fairbanks site matched similar items found in Asia, providing some of the first evidence that humans arrived in North America via the land bridge.
Captain E. T. Barnette founded Fairbanks in August 1901 while headed to Tanacross (or Tanana Crossing, where the Valdez–Eagle trail crossed the Tanana River), where he intended to set up a trading post. The steamboat on which Barnette was a passenger, the Lavelle Young, ran aground while attempting to negotiate shallow water. Barnette, along with his party and supplies, were deposited along the banks of the Chena River 7 miles (11 km) upstream from its confluence with the Tanana River. The sight of smoke from the steamer's engines caught the attention of gold prospectors working in the hills to the north, most notably an Italian immigrant named Felice Pedroni (better known as Felix Pedro) and his partner Tom Gilmore. The two met Barnette where he disembarked and convinced him of the potential of the area. Barnette set up his trading post at the site, still intending to eventually make it to Tanacross. Teams of gold prospectors soon congregated in and around the newly founded Fairbanks; they built drift mines, dredges, and lode mines in addition to panning and sluicing.
Select the Right Trade School
Choosing the ideal trade school near Fairbanks AK is a crucial beginning toward a fulfilling career in the vocation of your choice. As we have addressed in this article, you should select a vocational school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the field. Other factors to search for are lots of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and whether or not evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for comparing schools, you’ll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed professional in your chosen trade.
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