Online Trade Schools
Designed for students who want to learn a marketable skill in less than two years, online trade or vocational schools offer a more affordable and practical alternative to earning a four year degree. Graduates of programs focusing on trades rather than disciplines will find a more receptive job market upon receiving their certification, since the subjects taught involve positions leaning towards the service sector of society.
Examples of popular trade programs offered by online trade schools include:
- Automotive repair/ automotive detailing
- Culinary arts
- Web Design
- Heating and air technician
- Floral design
Trade school curriculum focuses on the only the trade and does not require students enroll in unnecessary core courses or electives like degree programs. As a result, the cost of attending online trade schools is much less than the cost of pursuing a four-year or six-year degree. Upon completion of a specific vocational program, students are ready for immediate placement as an entry-level employee in their chosen field.
Due to the intense concentration on job-specific skills, some online trade schools require students gain internship experience while enrolled in the program. Students working one or two hours each week and providing documentation to the school that they fulfilled internship requirements generally satisfies these experiential aspect of the program. Occasionally, internships may lead to employment following a student’s completion of a vocational course.
Depending on the amount of knowledge needed to correctly implement a trade skill, students could receive certification in less than six months. Online trade schools permit more flexibility in regards to the pace at which students perform assignments and complete examinations. While some students may take one year to finish an STNA (state-tested nursing aid) curriculum, others who have more time to work on assignments or are naturally better students could achieve certification in as little as three months.
Course Examples of Trade Programs
Cosmetology: individuals desiring a cosmetology certification will attend online classes dealing with hair care/styling, makeup techniques, nail care/manicure, skin care and some retail training. This certificate shows that a student has successfully completed a cosmetology program and is eligible to take the state licensing exam for cosmetology. Once licensing is established, a cosmetologist may elect to further her education by enrolling in additional courses concerning spa-oriented procedures such as facials, nail detailing and even basic massage techniques.
Automotive Repair: students enrolling in an online auto repair course will receive instruction regarding the parts constituting a car’s engine, the physics of engine operation and techniques of troubleshooting vehicle problems. However, an internship is generally required for students to complete the course and receive certification in auto repair. Frequently, individuals already working as an apprentice in a repair shop will take online evening classes in order to keep the position and obtain the necessary certification. In addition, the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence offers the ability for qualified graduates of a trade school program to take courses specializing in different areas of the auto repair field.
Medical Assisting: certification in medical assisting can be earned in less than a year and involves working in a medical office under the guidance of a doctor or registered nurse. Medical assisting tasks include keeping patient charts updated and accurate; confirming and processing insurance claims; referring patients to specialists; appointment scheduling; preparing examination rooms for doctors and monitoring supplies. In general, a medical assistant is there to help physicians or practitioners with whatever he or she may need. This trade is consistently an in-demand job and provides excellent employment opportunities for those completing a medical assisting program
Legal aid/Paralegal: paralegal programs offered by online trade schools usually take less than two years to complete. Essentially, a paralegal is an attorney’s “right-hand person” and performs a wide variety of tasks that assist lawyers with their case load. Collecting, analyzing and preparing information, relevant articles and/or legal documents for lawyers is the primary job of paralegals. In addition, they may also assist in developing legal arguments for a particular case as well as taking care of the financial aspects of the attorney’s business. Although paralegals are generally well-informed regarding the law and legal procedures, they are not qualified to give legal advice or defend clients.
Pet Grooming: more people than ever own pets and the pet grooming business has experienced a significant increase over the past decade. Some online trade schools offer pet grooming programs that will require internship with a professional pet groomer. Online classes provide educational assistance concerning the handling of aggressive pets, nail clipping, grooming different breeds, sanitation and a variety of cutting techniques. After certification in pet grooming is achieved, students may chose to take additional classes that enhance skills needed to become self-employed and own their own pet grooming business.
Popular Online Trade Schools
Penn Foster offers distance learning, non-degree programs in auto repair, small engine repair and diesel mechanic specialist. Students successfully completing the program receive an Auto Repair Technician Career Diploma as well as comprehensive instruction in braking, fuel and exhaust systems; rear and front axles; computerized engine systems; transmission; front-end alignments and engine rebuilding/repair. Textbooks provided by Penn Foster will assist students in taking the Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) examination as well. Although this program is not eligible for federal education assistance, Penn Foster allows students to make monthly payments along with 0 percent APR financing. Tuition for the auto repair program is about $1500.
Ashworth College Online also presents students with the ability to take auto mechanics and motorcycle mechanics classes online in order to receive a career diploma.
The New England Institute of Technology offers non-degree and associate programs for students interested in communications, business, mechanical repair and visual art trades. NEIT now has nearly 20 associate/certification degrees in over 30 different areas of study, with the majority of associate programs requiring less than 18 months to complete. Examples of programs provided by the NEIT include electronics engineering, digital recording arts and aviation technology.
For those wanting a career in floral design, the Floral Design Institute offers online classes in basic and advanced floral design and wedding floral specialist. Licensed by the Oregon Department of Education, the school is a member of AIFD (American Institute of Floral Designers) and has been approved as an educational pathway to certification by the AIFD. Students graduating from FDI’s distance program are given a certification that awards them the title of “Floral Design Institute Certified Floral Designer”.
Financial Aid for Online Trade Schools
Students enrolled in vocational programs culminating in an associate’s degree are generally eligible for federal financial aid assistance. However, many programs in which students receive a certification or diploma upon graduation are not and must be paid by the student using the school’s individual payment plan or by paying tuition in full at the beginning of the semester. Applying for trade school scholarships is another way to pay for tuition with money that does not have to be repaid. Organizations offering vocational scholarships include A.O. Smith Scholarship for HVAC students; the AFL-CIO Skilled Trade Scholarship; the Home Depot Trade Scholarship Program for plumbing, electrician and carpentry students; the PHCC Educational Foundation Scholarship; and the Straightforward Media Vo-Tech Scholarship.
Job Outlook for Trade Professions
The need for individuals skilled in auto repair, HVAC, construction and other service occupations will always be in demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that many trade positions are currently going unfilled due to a recent trend in students pursuing computer-based or business degrees. The BLS further states that the following decade will see a steady and substantial increase in the number of employment opportunities for individuals choosing careers in the trade professions.