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The Truth about Private Technical Schools

Whether you

are in construction or not, you have probably seen commercials for technical schools that promise to turn you into an electrician, plumber, or any other skilled trade.  They make their programs sound excellent, but they’re not giving you the whole story.  Allow me to set some things straight.

First off, as for the quality of education, I’m sure that many of these schools do produce quality workmen.  They ought to, considering the fact that these programs can cost in excess of $10,000.  What they’re not telling you, though, is that you may be able to take these same classes in a state vocational school for much less.

In my state, Connecticut, the state offers trade classes.  They have to, as they require that all skilled tradesman (electricians, plumbers, HVAC technician, etc.) take 20 three-month classes.  In order to qualify to take a journeyman-license test, you must have completed a four or five year, on the job apprenticeship, AND also have taken all 20 classes for your specific trade.

The difference in price for the state classes versus the private ones is astronomical.  Registered apprentices are able to take each course for only $100.  That turns out to be $2000, about a fifth the cost of the private schools.  If you work for a large outfit, or your boss is reasonable, you can submit the receipt to the company and you will probably be reimbursed.

There’s another thing you definitely have to consider before signing up for training.  Although many students do not realize it, you are already making a major career decision when you attend school (they won’t tell you this, though).  In many union-strong states, the union will not honor the education you receive from a private school.

The unions have their own training programs.  If you take classes at a private school, and then get a union job, you will find yourself taking all these classes again…but this time you will do it at the union hall.  That’s right, you’ll have spent ten grand for nothing, and you’ll be sitting in classes two nights a week…AGAIN!  However, the union will not charge you for this; they educate their apprentices for free.

So don’t be fooled by the commercials of places like Lincoln Tech or New England Tech.  Best-case scenario, you will have paid five times the cost that you would have at a state school.  Worst case, you’ll still be out ten grand, but you’ll look real smart in front of the other union apprentices when you retake all the classes!