Do you learn faster working hands-on? Are you easily bored by classroom lectures? Then you should explore the benefits of trade school! The right trade school could teach you the skills you’ll need to work as an automotive technician, electrician, electronics systems technician, heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR) technician, or more. Before you start on that path to a new career, though, here are 5 tips for finding the right trade school:
1) Research the kinds of careers you might be interested in by talking to people already in the profession. You probably didn’t even know that HVACR technicians are working all around you! According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were more than a quarter million HVACR mechanics and installers working in the U.S. in 2012 and there were double that number of electricians! Reach out and ask people in the trades what they do, how they do it and what they like about their jobs.
2) Explore trade schools online by searching for the kinds of careers that you think you’d like, along with where you live. For example, if you live in Massachusetts and are in interested in becoming an auto mechanic, you could enter the term: auto technician schools in Massachusetts. Once you’ve discovered schools that offer the programs you’re interested in, you can begin comparing institutions.
3) Make sure any school you look at is authorized or approved by its state Department of Education or other designated state approving agency and fully accredited through an accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC). These designations ensure that the school and its programs are properly licensed and accredited by an independent agency. Another award that signifies quality is the School of Excellence Award issued from ACCSC, or similar awards from other accreditors.
4) Choose a school that takes a hands-on approach to instruction so you’ll be able to get a feel for what your new career will really be like. Your instructors should be professionals from the field with real-world experience they can share with you. And the equipment you work with in school should resemble what you’ll find out on a real job.
5) Visit the school and ask questions. Take a school tour and look in on the programs you’re interested in. Check out the classrooms, shops and labs. Could you picture yourself there? Meet with admissions and financial aid personnel and explore all your options.
If you’re interested in a career in the trades, check out the programs at Porter and Chester Institute. We have nine locations in Connecticut and Massachusetts and programs that might be right for you!