How to Choose a Vocational School near Flagstaff Arizona
Choosing to begin a new occupation and enroll in a trade school near Flagstaff AZ are important decisions that will profoundly impact your future career. However with numerous vocational schools to choose from, just how do you go about identifying the best one? Not only do you need to confirm that you will receive the comprehensive training necessary to succeed in your new profession, but also that the school is reputable and well regarded. Some prospective students make the error of enrolling in a vocational school simply because the campus is closest to their residence or where the work. Others might be attracted to the school that charges the lowest tuition. Of course the cost and location of the programs are critical considerations when assessing vocational school options, but they must not be the sole ones. Added factors including reputation and accreditation of the schools are critical as well. So prior to beginning your evaluations and comparing trade schools, you will need to know what questions you should be asking in order to get the information to make a final choice. We will address several of those questions shortly in this post. But to start with, let’s talk about a few of the vocation options that are available including the availability of online schools.
Vocational School Training Options near Flagstaff AZ
There are an abundance of professions to select from in vocational schools that provide rewarding and high paying careers. Perhaps you have already decided on one that you have for years desired to pursue. For example, perhaps you have always had fun working on your car and have given thought to using that skill to earn a living as a car mechanic. Or perhaps a member of the family has had a prosperous career in a certain vocation or trade and you would like to follow in his or her footsteps. Regardless of what your motivation is for entering a trade, there is likely a program offered that will provide the training that you need. Below is merely a modest representation of the trade school programs that are available in the Flagstaff AZ area.
- Auto Mechanic
- Heating And Air Conditioning (HVAC) Tech
- Electrical Technician
- Truck Driver
- Aircraft Maintenance Tech
- Lab Technician
- Construction Manager
All programs will have varying costs and completion times depending on the trade, credential earned and school. Some of the programs may be completed in just weeks, while others will call for months or even 2 or more years of schooling. All of these elements need to be taken into account before selecting a vocation and school.
Online Trade Schools
Schools available online have become very popular with Flagstaff AZ students and increasingly more accredited programs are being offered. Although online learning is a very convenient and accessible way to obtain a degree or certificate, it may not be the ideal option for every vocation or trade. For example, learning to operate a tractor trailer is not something that you can do online, nor is learning how to weld. These are skills that have to be acquired through practical training and by doing it, not by reading about it or watching videos. But certain aspects of the training may be suitable for online training, for instance learning driving and safety regulations for trucking schools or learning about metallurgy or how to read blueprints for welding schools. Some programs will blend online instruction with on-campus practical training, for example for HVAC or plumbing schools. So it is crucial to determine before enrolling in an online school for any trade if there is an adequate amount of hands-on training allocated to the syllabus. One means to help ensure that a trade school program is both appropriate for online learning and provides in-depth hands-on training is to confirm that it’s accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency (more on accreditation later). For those trades that are appropriate for training online, it can be a practical way for students with limited time to learn a new vocation.
Questions to Ask Vocational School Programs
When you have selected the trade and type of certificate or degree that you would like to attain, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many technical schools in the Flagstaff AZ area and throughout the USA to choose from. That’s why it is imperative to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school evaluations. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial two aspects you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous Flagstaff AZ area vocational schools have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school’s programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Confirm that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you get an excellent education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states mandate that the training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing where applicable.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help assess the quality of a trade school near Flagstaff AZ is how long it has been in business. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not be 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 multiple qualifications.
Completion Rates. Ask the trade schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate could indicate that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It could also indicate that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It’s also important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which can mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to help graduates obtain apprenticeships or jobs in the Flagstaff AZ area.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of technical programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of contractors or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with Flagstaff AZ area companies in the trade. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the tech you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Flagstaff AZ contractor if they can provide some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s desirable that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Talk to some of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is in Arizona and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Flagstaff AZ, verify that the schools you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering a Trade School near Flagstaff AZ?
If you are looking at a trade school near Flagstaff AZ, following is some interesting and relevant information regarding the location of your future school campus that may help you in making your decision.
Flagstaff is a city in and the county seat of Coconino County in northern Arizona, in the southwestern United States. In 2015, the city's estimated population was 70,320. Flagstaff's combined metropolitan area has an estimated population of 139,097. The city is named after a ponderosa pine flagpole made by a scouting party from Boston (known as the "Second Boston Party") to celebrate the United States Centennial on July 4, 1876.
Flagstaff lies near the southwestern edge of the Colorado Plateau, along the western side of the largest contiguous ponderosa pine forest in the continental United States. Flagstaff is next to Mount Elden, just south of the San Francisco Peaks, the highest mountain range in the state of Arizona. Humphreys Peak, the highest point in Arizona at 12,633 feet (3,851 m), is about 10 miles (16 km) north of Flagstaff in Kachina Peaks Wilderness.
Flagstaff's early economy was based on the lumber, railroad, and ranching industries. Today, the city remains an important distribution hub for companies such as Nestlé Purina PetCare, and is home to Lowell Observatory, The U.S. Naval Observatory, the United States Geological Survey Flagstaff Station, and Northern Arizona University. Flagstaff has a strong tourism sector, due to its proximity to Grand Canyon National Park, Oak Creek Canyon, the Arizona Snowbowl, Meteor Crater, and historic Route 66. The city is also a growing center for medical and biotechnology manufacturing, home to corporations such as SenesTech and W. L. Gore and Associates. 
Enroll in the Right Vocational School
Choosing the ideal trade school near Flagstaff AZ is an important beginning toward a gratifying career in the vocation of your choice. As we have discussed in this post, you should select a vocational school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the trade. Other things to search for are lots of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling choices and whether evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our checklist for assessing schools, you’ll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed professional in your chosen trade.
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