Career Training Directory Connecting you to your Future
Hands-on Training at Technical Schools
By Thomas A. Hauck, 2008
The word “college” may make you think of ivy-covered walls, hushed libraries, professors with tweed jackets, and students who never get their hands dirty. But perhaps you’re the type who loves to dig through a greasy motorcycle engine, or solder an electronic connection, or install an HVAC system in a skyscraper. You want to work with both your mind and your hands. Yes, there is a school for you! 
Technical training schools offer hands-on instruction and experience in small engine repair, automotive and marine repair, computers, HVAC, truck driving, and more. You can’t learn this stuff over the Internet. You can’t even learn it in a classroom. You have to get down and dirty and wok with the real thing in a real-life setting.  
Two-part curriculum--Today’s technical careers require brains as well as brawn. Most technical schools divide their curriculum into two parts: classroom and real-world. The classroom part might be presented either in a bricks-and-mortar campus building, or through an online curriculum that could be mastered from any location. The real-world section involves hands-on interaction with hardware, and must be taken at the technical school’s facility.
For example, a program dedicated to tractor-trailer truck driving typically requires several weeks of instruction. Topics may include:
• Commercial Drivers’ License (CDL) General Knowledge / Combination Vehicles
• CDL Hazardous Material
• Brake Systems / CDL Air Brake Knowledge
• Uncoupling / Coupling
• Vehicle Inspections (Circle Check)
• Parallel Parking
• Straight Backing
• Alley Dock Backing
• Highway/ City Driving
• State Examination
Many schools provide a portion of the curriculum either in a classroom setting or online. Online courses can be just as rich and rewarding as traditional classroom courses. Many include real-time feedback, quizzes, simulated hands-on exercises, graphics, and even audios and videos.
Following successful completion of classroom instruction, the school then introduces the students to the real thing, and students get behind the wheel. This part of the curriculum can only be completed at the school facility.
Licensure—In many cases, completing a technical training program is just the first step to a new career. Many states require professional service providers to be licensed or certified before they can begin work. In addition, many manufacturers, especially those of boat, auto, motorcycle, and aircraft engines, require mechanics to be certified before they can go to work at an authorized dealer or repair facility. Technical training schools generally design their programs to fully prepare their graduates to take certification exams, but of course the student is ultimately responsible for his or her success. 
For example, if you want to work as a cosmetologist in the State of New York, and have received your training in New York, you need to satisfy these requirements as set forth by the New York State Board of Cosmetology:

“If you are at least 17 years old, you must complete a 1,000-hour, New York State approved course of study and pass both the New York State written and practical examinations to get a license to operate in this state. As proof of successful completion of schooling, you must have the Affirmation of New York State Approved Schooling section of the application completed by your school director. After your application is reviewed and accepted, you will receive information that explains the exam process in detail.”
Technical and career schools know that your goal is to get a rewarding job. When you surf through and find the school for you, check out what they offer for certification and licensure preparation. Then, go ahead and take the plunge—you may be on the way to a new career.