Online schools are institutions that grant degrees to students who do not attend a campus but receive instruction over the Internet. Technical schools are secondary or post-secondary vocational schools that train students in career paths. This article is about technical schools that offer online classes.

Online Technical Schools in Context

Although online technical schools may be a convenient choice for training, as well as a popular one, this does not necessarily mean that they are the best choice. Technical careers often involve manual skills, judgments, and interpersonal relationships that even the best simulations will not completely train one in. Because the online delivery method and technical education are not - in certain ways - a good match, finding a really good program is even more essential. If you are thinking about online technical school, keep in mind that many people have received technical education through apprenticeships, on-the-job training, and face-to-face programs in community colleges, technical and vocational schools, and even colleges and universities, and consider whether the online choice is best for your career.

Licensing and Accreditation

Various trades and jobs have state certification and licensing requirements. If the technical study you want to pursue has a license requirement in your state (or the state in which you want to work), you should start by checking the state requirements for training. You can do this on the state website or by phone. Find or ask for a listing of online technical schools that meet your state's requirements. If there aren't any, that's a strong signal to reconsider how you receive your training, if your job is one that cannot be practiced without a license. Examples of jobs for which a license is needed in many, if not all, states include health care positions (such as dental hygienists, licensed practical nurses, and veterinary technicians), cosmetology (such as nail technology, barbering, or hair styling), truck driving (commercial driver's license), and trades (such as brick layer, electrician, etc.).

Experts recommend that you not attend any institution that is not accredited. Accreditation provides a review of an educational institution to establish whether the quality of the education provided meets the necessary standards. There are six regional accrediting agencies:

  • Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES)
  • Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT)
  • Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET)
  • Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS)
  • Council of Occupational Education (COE)
  • Distance Education and Training Council (DETC)

You can find contact information for the accreditation as well as licensing information for each state by downloading the pdf called “Directory Higher Ed Officials” at the Council of Recognized National Accrediting Agencies here: It's the second item in the menu. Don't just take the school's word for the fact that it is accredited: check with the accrediting agency to confirm.

Assessing Online Technical Schools Further

Once you have established that a school meets license and accreditation requirements, it's time to take a closer look at the school and program. Use these questions to help you discern the quality of the school and its ability to deliver the training you're seeking:

  • Is the school's website well set-up? Is contact information given and is it accurate?
  • How long has the school been in existence?
  • How do former students review the school? Have there been any complaints or lawsuits?
  • What's the drop-out rate? The completion rate?
  • What is the tuition?
  • Is financial aid available?
  • What are the program requirements? How do they compare to face-to-face institutions?
  • How are elements of a program that one would expect to be handled face-to-face or with actual tools and materials dealt with?
  • What degree or certificate would you receive?
  • How long will the program take?
  • What is the graduation rate?
  • How many degrees are granted in a year?
  • What is the job placement rate?
  • What are the faculty qualifications?
  • What are the admission requirements?
  • Will credits transfer to another institution?
  • If you enroll, who will be responsible for overseeing your course of study?