Thinking of Starting a Tech or Trade School what you need to know

Invest in the student.
Care for the student’s progress. (Truly know your students.)
Train the student with a set of skills local employers will pay for.
Help the student find his or her first and second jobs in their field.

Do all of the things above and students will knock down your doors. However, getting to the point that the doors open is another matter.

The barriers to entering this market are huge. In the US, in order for a school to become accredited it has to have been in business at least 2 years. That is true for the main accreditors. This accreditation also means that the school can accept student financial aid as a means of funding. For most schools, the lack of true federal financial aid severely cripples new institutions. Or if the school funds its students with private loans, these place a huge burden on the student that often limits the students ability to finish school.

Be heartened, once a school is accredited, it is accredited by others (peers) in the industry. It usually takes public federal legal action before an accreditor will even consider revoking this accreditation. The accreditors mainly come from the industry and return to the industry, so once accredited it is far easier to stay accredited and to maintain the income stream from federal dollars.

States also have licensing requirements. These vary tremendously from state to state, from almost no requirements to states that carefully monitor all their degree granting institutions.

To this end, most of the schools already in business avoid these challenges in starting a new school or school in a new location. Most of the current players buy schools already in existence, often schools that are failing, but still have the accreditation. From there these schools add programs they feel will help create a profitable situation.

The choice of programs and how the schools maintain quality determines how well the school will fair in the years to come. Schools that focus on just their profitable programs often find that the market shifts as they try to maximize their profit, and those programs they abandoned in the quest for greater profits are no longer supported at the time the market attracts those students.

Because this type of education is intimately about local skilled careers, large schools often lose touch with the local connections that bring them students and maintain long term success. The tech, career, or trade school business is about training people with skills that enable them to better their lives. If it becomes about maximizing student loan dollars,(all to often occurs) then the students pay a high price for future unemployment. The tales of places like Decker College are way to common, and the same individuals are often permitted to open new schools.

Few students can pay out of pocket for a quality education. Given the size of the investment, students should research their prospective school well. Find out the history behind the owners and top management. Discuss the schools philosophy with the faculty, and talk to someone knowledgeable in the field that came from that school. There are some jewels in the career market, and the market is desperate for places that can truly train the students for a successful life.