Schools Training

Understanding Study Options at a Career College

26 DEC 2012
Career Path : Accounting

Career and business colleges are usually private institutions focused on getting students employed with specific training, not general study. Program length is much shorter than a four to five year university degree, and puts the concentration on skill building. These colleges generally provide the path to reliable support roles, such as office assistant, bookkeeper, personal support worker, paralegal or dental hygienist. Some institutions are also trade schools. Once enrolled, students will have a carefully constructed program of accounting courses, health courses, legal training or whatever is applicable, without time spent on electives.

For medical jobs, students can expect a mix of health courses and hands on practice. If the position, such as medical office receptionist, involves paperwork as well as patient care, students can expect business courses for the clerical side of things. Sometimes, such as medical transcription or billing, the courses will be exclusively health applicable, but otherwise skills like typing and business writing will be useful outside a clinic setting as well. Studies will also use a replica of real life task, putting future pharmacy technicians to work measuring drugs in the school’s lab, and future dental assistants beside the chair at a clinic. This is also one of the places where there is most likely to be a practicum placement with a real employer, before graduation.

In some programs, accreditation is king. Some paralegal training will also have business courses to go with the legal studies, and depending on the programs accreditation with the local bar association, this can lead to a role as a law clerk or a fully-fledged paralegal. Many programs are also preparation for industry exams or certifications, for example IT courses often culminate in a vendor neutral or software specific test. Trades programs also function this way, if it’s a provincially recognized skilled trade, and that runs from welding to hair dressing.

Meanwhile, in a modern office, the finite distinctions between administrative support roles have blurred. Fewer companies explicitly hire secretaries, but administrative assistants and other office focused graduates will still take traditional business courses like keyboarding and taking dictation. On the other hand, managing tasks like payroll mean you need accounting courses as well. It’s common that an office worker will wear several hats, using the labour saving aid of computers to be multiple departments. This means studying everything from spreadsheets to graphical design, and of course any reputable career and business college has adapted their courses accordingly.

Whatever the program of study, career and business colleges have an important role they’ve held for almost two centuries: giving some practical skills training that’s more universally applicable than the education model it replaced, pure apprenticeships. These days career college graduates can be confident their studies, from accounting courses or technical certification, transfer with them and they can also move quickly between jobs.

Visit Mohawk College for more information on health courses.