In today’s changing economy, the same old education may not always be sufficient. Many students come out of high school thinking that a four-year college is the only option. But when they graduate, they may find that their career options are limited. For many adults, their current job is simply not paying enough, or they are looking to transition from a job to a career. Whatever your reason for seeking out a different type of education, the facilities are there to make a change, but you need to know where to look.

Where to Go for a Career Change [infographic]

Once upon a time, high school students were exposed to a variety of vocational training programs. This allowed many students to graduate high school and move into well-paying jobs in a number of technical fields.

Today, most high schools are focused on a single goal: graduating students who are ready for college. While there is no doubt that four-year universities have value, it is also true that not every degree is the same. In fact, many employers who require a bachelor’s degree or higher find that their new hires lack necessary skills.

A False Recovery for Workers

In the Great Recession, millions of job were lost. Since then, millions of jobs have been added to the economy and unemployment has dropped significantly. The stock market has soared to unprecedented heights. Yet many American workers still face financial and employment hardship.

The key factor that is missing from the recovery is wage growth. Since the 1970s, wages (adjusted for inflation) have been almost completely flat, growing only 0.2% a year. This stagnation means that many, especially in the mid to low income range, have seen their prospects for upward mobility strongly reduced.

Many employees today feel stuck in jobs that offer little growth. The value of the minimum wage has dropped as inflation has risen. For many higher paid workers, room for growth has simply not been available.

In this environment, many workers find themselves seeking out real-life skills that can help them get better-paying jobs.

Going Back to School

For adult workers, going back to college can be a challenge. First of all, the cost of a four-year college education has skyrocketed. Although federal loans have become more and more prevalent, the cost of college is still often unbearable. The increase in college tuition has greatly outpaced inflation. In fact, the only statistic that has kept pace with the rise in college tuition is the rise in spending on college administration.

Part of this has to do with the availability of federally backed loans. Universities know that they can charge far more than students can afford to pay because the federal government will loan them the money to pay the university. The universities receive that money and never have to worry about the real cost to the students. Meanwhile, students are leaving college with huge, often crippling amounts of debt.

For working adults who want to return to school, tuition is just one obstacle, though a significant one. Another major obstacle is scheduling. For working adults, they don’t have the flexibility that they may have had when they were younger. As adults, they have bills to pay and jobs that they need to keep to pay those bills. This means that any schooling has to fit around work schedules.

For some students, scheduling is especially difficult. Students who are parents or caregivers need to balance education with caring for children. For students who are shift workers, scheduling can be unpredictable.

Finally, adults who are returning to school can’t afford to leave school with only entry-level skills. They don’t have time to start at the bottom and work their way up. If they are going to make the time and financial investment in returning to school, they need to know that they can get well-paying work right out of school.

Another Option for Schooling

For students looking to move from a job to a career, or to change careers, there is another option. There are many two-year and associate degree programs that promise to provide marketable skills. These programs are made to appeal to working adults, with flexible hours and online options, they aim to be as accessible as possible.

These two-year programs are also financially accessible. While students may still take out some loans to pay for school, the annual tuition at two-year programs is often less than half that of the next cheapest option, in-state tuition at public universities. This lets students graduate with much less debt and the skills to get a job to pay off that debt in a responsible manner.

The Problem With Some For-Profit Colleges

For-profit colleges have gotten a lot of bad press lately. Some bad actors have been known to misrepresent their post-graduation employment numbers. This blatant misrepresentation has led students to enroll in the belief that they can leave and walk right into a job. Only after they graduate are they greeted with the reality that employment is harder to find than advertised.

Many for-profit colleges have a reputation for low-quality education. This has led to some problems for their students and graduates. Students who try to transfer credits for classes taken to non-profit universities may find that their credits are not accepted. Similarly, many employers are wary of degrees from for-profit colleges.

In addition to their poor reputation among non-profit universities and employers, for-profit colleges may not even always be less expensive. Some for-profit colleges charge more than the average for non-profit schools and offer little in return. In fact, some studies show that for-profit schools on average spend 23% of their budget on advertising, marketing, and recruitment.

With all of these issues, some adults looking for a change in career may be hesitant to turn to for-profit colleges. But that would be a mistake.

What For-Profit Schools Are Doing Right

For-profit schools are not all the same. While there are some bad actors, there are many quality schools that serve a very important purpose. Many for-profit schools do offer lower than average tuition. That opens up the opportunity for higher education to workers who may not be able to afford non-profit universities. 

For-profit schools are also tailored to the needs of working adults. They offer flexible hours, multiple locations, and online courses. For many workers, those adjustments are the only way that higher education is possible.

Another advantage of for-profit schools is that they tend to focus on skills that are directly applicable to the current job market. While some bad actors misrepresent employment number for their alumni, many responsible schools really do have high rates of post-graduation employment.

The bottom line when it comes to finding a for-profit school is DO YOUR RESEARCH.

Like any business, for-profit schools vary greatly. There are some that cheat their students, but there are many that provide a great service.

How can you tell the difference?

Wouldn’t it be great if there were an easy way to tell the good from the bad when it comes to for-profit schools? Well, you’re in luck! TrustDALE has done the research, and Dale can recommend Interactive College of Technology. They provide real-world skills that will help you build a career in a number of in-demand fields. So if you are ready to make a change in your career, don’t waste your time with other schools. Trust Interactive College of Technology. Dale does, and so can you!