When you talk to people about Career Step’s online programs, you may get questions about why Career Step versus another online school. To help with your referral efforts, we’ve put together a few things your friends and family should considered to be sure they are getting an online training program that is worth their time and money.
The two most important things your friends or family members should take into account when comparing online programs is quality and support. Just like with traditional college programs, all online training courses are not created equal.
The purpose of online training is to be prepared for a job upon graduation, so it’s important to choose a school that actually does that. Prospective students should also look for a school that provides support throughout the entire learning process. With online education it is easy to feel isolated and alone, and it’s much easier to get through a course when you have access to instructors who can provide needed support.
Keeping all of this in mind, here are a few more things your contacts should consider when choosing an online school…
Many people look to see if a school is accredited but don’t check if the school—or more importantly the program they’re interested in—has industry approval. While accreditation is nice, all it really says it that a third-party organization has verified that the school offers quality training overall. They might not have actually looked at each specific program or have the expertise to judge the quality of the specific training. However, if a program is approved by the leading industry organization, you know that those who actually do the job you’re training for believe the program will prepare students to be successful in the workforce.
For example, one of our most popular courses, medical coding and billing, is widely available through many other institutions. It is a very detail-oriented, complicated field, and there’s no way to know for sure that someone from a third-party accreditation organization would know enough about all the intricacies of coding to really judge the quality of the program. On the other hand, the largest industry association for medical coders in the country, the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), went through an extensive evaluation process of Career Step’s Professional Medical Coding and Billing program, which involved an entire panel of reviewers. As a result, our program is one of the only online training courses currently approved by AHIMA. That stamp of approval means employers know that a trusted member of their industry has reviewed our courses and Career Step graduates have the skills they need to do their job.
The amount of support needed to get through a training program varies from individual to individual. However, your friends and family members should make sure the school they’re considering has the level of support they need, and then some.
While prospective students may think of themselves as needing very little support, when they get stuck on a certain concept or problem, wouldn’t it be nice to know that help is available? And one of the great things about Career Step’s student support team is that all of our instructors have been there! At the risk of bragging, we have to say we have the best instructors around. Besides knowing the courses backwards and forwards, they have real-world experience working in the specific fields our students are preparing for. Who better to help you train for a new job than someone who’s actually done it?
In addition, Career Step’s programs also come with tech support. While it doesn’t happen often, sometimes students run into technical problems while trying to access their program or study for a test. When these things happen, it’s nice to have someone you can call to help walk you through the solution versus trying to figure it out on your own.
When it all comes down to it, online training programs should be designed to help you get a good job when you’re done. So this is probably the most important thing your friends and family should look for. Does the course actually prepare them for a job? And what kind of support is available after graduation to help them find a job?
Career Step’s graduate support advisors are dedicated to helping our graduates be successful in their job search. They provide invaluable tips on how to navigate the ins and outs of the specific industry’s hiring process. They also know what resumes for the different industries should look like and provide tips on earning relevant industry credentials to help graduates land the jobs they really want.
And one last word of caution to share with your friends and family. There are many educational programs out there, both online and on campus, that can be very expensive. They need to make sure the price of their education is reasonable for the amount they’ll potentially earn after graduation. As another example, the cost for Career Step’s Pharmacy Technician program is under $2,000. The average pharmacy technician earns over $14 an hour or about $30,000 a year. That would make their Career Step training costs about 6% of what they’ll earn their first year out of school. We think that is a reasonable and affordable price for education. However, a lot of pharmacy technician programs charge tuition prices of over $30,000—which would take several years to pay off since that’s as much as graduates will make that first year.
In the end, choosing a quality online training program is really no different than anything else in life. Your friends and family will do just fine if they are smart consumers, do their research, and know what they’re looking for in an online program.
Are there other things you think people should consider when choosing an online program? Why did you choose your Career Step program? We’d love to hear your story below!