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Career colleges offer hands-on programs

If you’re looking for practical, hands-on training for a variety of career fields, consider career colleges

Career colleges offer hands-on programs

You’ve seen them advertised on TV: Trade schools where you can study for less than two years and get certified for an in-demand job.

Career colleges are different from traditional colleges because they focus entirely on job training.

“You’re very specifically working in a field of interest to you, and your whole career is focused on getting you ready for the field that you choose,” says Bob Cohen, spokesman for the Career College Association.

What are they like?

Every career college is different.

Central Pennsylvania College in Summerdale, Pa., offers associate and bachelor’s degrees. Students in daytime programs do internships and go to class year-round, so they finish more quickly than at traditional colleges.

Most Central Penn students have to go to class in professional outfits—ties for guys and pantyhose if girls wear skirts—and have to follow an attendance policy.

“It gets you in a routine—getting up and getting ready for work or for class and just being in it the whole day,” says Marci Neidig, 21, who’s in her second year studying business administration and marketing at Central Penn.

Lauren Meding, 25, didn’t want to spend much more time in school after earning a bachelor’s degree, but wanted different training. So, she enrolled at Pima Medical Institute in Mesa, Ariz (

Meding spent six months in morning classes and two months in an externship with the Desert Tails Animal Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz. The clinic hired her as a full-time veterinary assistant after she graduated.

Universal Technical Institute ( trains automotive and marine technicians at 12 campuses nationwide. Students work in labs and shops as well as the classroom, says Ken Lewandowski, president of UTI’s campus in Exton, Pa. In one class, students take transmissions apart and put them back together.

Will I get a job?

The Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology checks about 800 career colleges to make sure they meet basic standards. If a school’s going to keep its accreditation, at least 70 percent of its graduates have to get jobs in their fields!

Jade McMullen, 24, finished after nine months at Empire Beauty School’s location in Pottsville, Pa. ( After that, she trained in California with a top hairstylist. Now, she owns a salon.

“I work six days a week, 10-hour days,” McMullen says. “I never get sick of it, either.”

What can I study?

You can train for all kinds of jobs at career colleges.

Here are 10:

1.Automotive technician
Average salary: $34,030

2.Corrections officer
Average salary: $41,340

3.Database administrator
Average salary: $72,900

4.Dental assistant
Average salary: $33,170

Average salary: $49,890

Average salary: $26,660

7.Institutional cook
Average salary: $23,260

8. Interior designer
Average salary: $51,020

9.Massage therapist
Average salary: $39,850

Average salary: $48,790


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