Career colleges are privately run institutions, and the schools in individual states--and even institutions within a state--have their own distinct character. Therefore, the information below is a general guide for international students researching American career colleges, and is applicable to all states. For the most current and state-specific details, students should also refer to individual state higher education agencies as well as individual career colleges.
Career colleges offer quality career-oriented training, including trades and apprenticeships and university transfer programs. Programs are generally short (3- to 23-month) certificates and diplomas designed give students the knowledge and skills they need to get the jobs they want. Alternately known as vocational or technical schools, career colleges have been part of US post-secondary education since the mid 19th century and provide educational programs in over 200 occupational fields, including accounting, allied health, applied arts, culinary and hospitality management, computers and information technology, emergency medicine, engineering technology, interior design, law enforcement administration, medical technologies, office administration, radio and television broadcasting, and more. Most programs include an internship or industry practicum, so students get experience and make job connections while studying. Credits may also qualify for transfer towards a university program.
Benefits to international students include self-paced, flexible schedules with full-time, part-time and online programs often available, plus small classes, personalized attention and job placement help. As well, career colleges have affordable tuition and can be found everywhere from small rural towns to bustling urban centres.
The diversity of career college size, history, programs and location is matched by the diversity of students they serve: students with different needs, different career goals and different cultural, educational and economic backgrounds. No matter what programs they offer--from environmental technology to esthetics, coaching to cooking--all career colleges in the USA are government licensed and provide valuable, practical education in a supportive learning environment.
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