About Online Trade School & College Programs
Attending college classes in the comfort of your own home is becoming a norm. Trade schools and colleges are now making it easier by offering many degree options online. Here’s what you need to know about online career training programs.
Types Of Online Program Formats
More trade schools and colleges are jumping aboard the online ship, but not all online programs are the same. There are a variety of formats to choose from when considering any online training programs.
Fully Online: You never have to attend a physical campus in these programs; all the learning is done via online classrooms.
Hybrid: Hybrid is a mix of in-class and online instruction and learning.
Popular Online Career Training Options
Many training programs can be done partially or fully online. One of the most popular online programs lately is the online medical assistant. Listed below are some of the popular online programs, but this is just a very small sampling. There are many more options through trade schools and community colleges.
- HVAC: HVAC technology is one of the skilled trades programs that is available completely online. Our partner school, Penn Foster, offers this program. HVAC technicians earn an average of $51,420 per year (bls.gov).
- Criminal justice: Keiser University and Miller-Motte College are just two of our partner colleges that offer online criminal justice programs. Your options are vast within the field of legal careers and law enforcement.
- Healthcare administration: If you’re looking for a degree in healthcare administration, ECPI University offers a bachelor’s degree program online. The median annual salary for healthcare administrators is more than $115,160 annually (bls.gov).
- Medical billing and medical coding: You can find online medical billing and medical coding programs through Blue Cliff College, McCann School of Business & Technology, Miller-Motte Technical College, and Ultimate Medical Academy.
- Medical assisting: In this career, you can expect to earn an average salary of $35,720 (bls.gov). Schools such as Keiser University and The College of Health Care Professions offer online programs in medical assisting.
- Nursing: ECPI University offers an online bachelor’s degree program for registered nursing. With a bachelor’s degree, your average salary will be $77,460 per year (bls.gov).
Choosing A Good Online Program
Not all distance learning programs are created equal. Pay attention to these things when you are searching for online programs.
- Accreditation is important: Be certain the school you’re looking at is accredited. You’ll spend a lot of time and money on a degree that won’t transfer and may not be legit.
- Accessibility to real people: Will it be easy to speak with professors, counselors, and other administrative staff? Many online programs set up specific "office hours" for questions and tutoring, so for most, this won't be an issue.
- Help after graduation: Sometimes, with an online program, you won't have the same access to benefits like job placement assistance, resume services, and interviewing workshops. An admissions counselor can advise you before you commit.
Why Accreditation Is Important
When doing any type of higher education, one thing to be very mindful of is whether or not the school is accredited. Accreditation means the program has been approved by a neutral third party.
It can protect your investment in schooling by allowing credits to transfer and giving a stamp of legitimacy. And future licensing or certification requirements for your career may require you to have received training from an accredited institution.
Reputable schools have accreditation at the state or national level, and for the whole school or specific programs. Here are some questions to ask an admissions counselor:
- Is the school/program recognized by the Department of Education?
- Is the accreditation status posted online? It should be!
- What does the school's overall accreditation look like? Institutional or specialized? One or the other is fine. Both is even better.
- Is the accreditation regional or national? Either one is fine in general, but it also depends on your career goals.
- Is the accreditation institution legitimate?
What Is Online Training Like?
Overall, it’s a straightforward format where lectures are watched, read, or listened to, and the hands-on learning is demonstrated by videos, gifs, and illustrations.
- You’ll need to have access to a smartphone, tablet, or computer. Some schools may provide you with a school-issued computer. You will also need to have access to the internet.
- Sometimes, you'll have physical books to read and work out of; other schools have all assignments and material online. You can work at your own pace, completing assignments when it's best for you.
- There may be a classroom forum where you can engage with other classmates and the instructors.
Is Online School Less Expensive Than Campus Learning?
Online learning can vary in pricing, but many programs do end up being cheaper than a 4-year degree. You won’t have to pay additional living expenses or even spend money on a commute to campus. Schools can typically offer online classes at a lower tuition price thanks to less maintenance and overhead.
One thing to keep in mind is that the cost of the online class doesn’t make it better or worse than the education you’d get in a traditional setting. That factor is more weighted on the actual course and the professor, not how much it cost you. For online classes, you can expect to spend between $100-$400 per course credit hour. So, a four-credit class could cost you between $400-$1,200.
Similar to brick and mortar trade schools and community colleges, financial aid may be available. An admissions counselor can help walk you through the information. All schools have different requirements and guidelines.
How Do Employers Feel About Online Degrees?
Once you complete your training program, you will be career-ready for an entry-level position. Employers are looking for people ready to work, and accept online certificates and degrees from credible schools, no problem. It's going to be more about whether or not you are the right person for that position.
Is Online School Right For You?