A career college provides training that prepares students for or continues their training in a career area. It may be a community or junior college with a two-year program, or a four-year college, even though these institutions are less closely associated with careers. Read this more article for more information on career colleges.
Types of Career Colleges
There are several ways that career colleges can be classified. Here are a few. First, we could consider the length of the programs, as hinted at in the introductory paragraph - two-year or four-year - and the accompanying degree, associate's degree or bachelor's degree. Second, we could consider institutions that focus only on career preparation versus those with a broader array of majors and programs. Third, we could consider public and private institutions. Next, we could think about face-to-face programs versus distance learning career colleges. And finally, we could consider programs that have merited accreditation versus those that do not. In terms of the first four typologies, whatever suits you best is likely to work well. But for the last one, keep in mind that lack of accreditation by an accrediting agency approved by the U.S. Department of Education means you will not qualify for federally funded student aid, may suggest that your state will not accept the degree as qualifying you for a license in your chosen profession (should one be required), and that you may not receive the same caliber of education as you would from an accredited institution.
Recognizing Career Colleges
In some cases, you will be able to recognize career colleges by their names. They may have titles like:
- Technical College
- Technical & Community College
- Technical Community College
- Career College
- Technology College
They may also have more specific names that clearly indicate the vocational focus, like:
- Acupuncture and Massage College
- Hallmark College of Aeronautics
- Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts
- Nashville Auto Diesel College
- Paier College of Art
- Roffler-Moler Hairstyling College
However, they may have names that give you no idea that they offer career training:
- Brown College
- Champlain College
- California College San Diego
- Platt College
For this reason, searching on a site like the U.S. Department of Education College Navigator site here: nces.ed.gov or on the sites of the six accrediting agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, will help make sure you find all the options available in your chosen area(s).
- Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) (pdf download): acics.org
- Distance Education and Training Council (DETC) (searchable database): detc.org
- Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) (searchable database): accsc.org
- Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) (pdf download and searchable database): abhes.org
- Council of Occupational Education (COE) (pdf download): council.org
- Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET) (searchable database): accet.org
Four year institutions that offer degrees in areas besides careers may be accredited, but not by one of these six organizations. For example, Castleton State College is a four-year college in Vermont that offers Associate's degrees in addition to Bachelor's Degrees. It is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education overall. Its nursing associate's degree programs are accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission. It shows up on a search in the U.S. Department of Education College Navigator, but will not appear in the programs listed by the six accrediting agencies that focus on institutions that only offer career education. This means that to ensure that you are aware of all of the opportunities available to you, it is a good idea to use multiple search methods to investigate. Additional help in locating career colleges can be found at high school guidance offices, your state student loan organization, and public libraries. Events such as college fairs may also disseminate career college information.