What is a Career School?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 18 September 2019
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A career school is an educational institution that provides people with instruction that is intended to prepare them for working careers. Career schools can include junior colleges, vocational schools, technical schools, and other types of career training programs. They are usually differentiated from professional schools like law school and medical school, and there are a number of distinctions between career and professional schools including prerequisites for attendees, eligibility for government funding, and the nature of the coursework.

Attendees of a career school usually need to hold a high school diploma or an equivalency certificate. They may not need to meet additional prerequisite standards. The length of the coursework can vary, depending on the type of career a student is training for. Something like trucker school might have a one-year intensive program, while a vocational school for veterinary technicians may have a two- to three-year program. Students are usually provided with an estimate on the length of the program and costs associated with completion when they apply.


At career school, students are usually not required to complete general education requirements. Instead, they are plunged directly into coursework for their chosen careers. As with other types of schools, students are expected to complete work in class, take examinations, prepare papers, and complete homework. Students are graded and if they fail, they will need to repeat coursework before they can graduate successfully. Graduates can earn a variety of degrees and certificates, depending on the accreditation status of the institution and the type of education it provides.

In some cases, a degree from a career school is enough to start work immediately. For other types of careers it will also be necessary to pass a certification exam. The school prepares students for the exam so they can pass as soon as they graduate and meet any other requirements, such as completing field work, that are necessary to take the exam. These schools typically maintain certification exam pass rate statistics so applicants can determine how many graduates successfully certify after they complete their educations.

Costs associated with career school attendance vary. Some institutions provide students with access to financial aid including grants, loans, and scholarships, while others require students to pay out of pocket for their educations. As with other schools, costs include tuition, textbooks, and materials along with housing. Some schools provide dormitories, meal plans, and other services, while others expect students to meet their housing needs in the community. Student services like academic counseling are also usually available.



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