How To Choose A 
Private Career Training School

Pursuing post-secondary education is a big decision, both financially and personally, so it is important to do your research! PCTIA encourages all students to be informed consumers, so spend as much time and consideration choosing a school or institution as you would your career. It is your responsibility to make sure the program is right for you. 

In BC, private career training is regulated. Any school offering a career training program with tuition of $1,000 or more and 40 hours or more in duration MUST register and adhere to basic education standards. Some schools voluntarily choose to also become accredited. (See: What is the difference between a registered institution and an accredited institution?)

The first step is to check that the school is registered with PCTIA and is in good standing. If you are not enrolled in a registered school, you are not protected under the PCTI Act. Students can check the status of their school by looking it up here. PCTIA also maintains a list of suspended and cancelled schools.

Know what you are signing up for, what sort of jobs the qualification will help you get, and the percentage of graduates gaining employment in the chosen industry. Read course outlines and contracts carefully and ask lots of questions.

Choosing a School Checklist

Admissions:

  • What are the admission requirements (i.e. admissions test, personal interview)?
    Note: The admission requirements should match those listed on the PCTIA 
    website here. If your school or program is not listed, please contact PCTIA and 
    they can look into it for you.
  • Do I need certain skills or abilities?
  • Do I need to obtain any additional licenses?

The Program:

  • What is the duration of the program?
    Note: The duration of the program must match the duration listed under the 
    same program on the PCTIA website here.
  • Is the institution/program recognized in the industry you plan to work in?
  • What is the student-teacher ratio?
  • What is the average class size?
  • What skills will be taught?
  • How much of the training is in classroom lectures and how much will be in 
    practical experience?
  • Does the program offer a co-op work component? Where? Is it relevant to 
    the program? Who is responsible for arranging the co-op?
  • What do recent graduates have to say about their experience at the institution?

The Facility:

  • Are the facilities and equipment adequate?
  • Is the equipment/software up-to-date with the industry?
  • Is there sufficient equipment for the number of students enrolled?

Note: Be sure that you, or someone you know well and trust, has visited the
institution in person to see the facilities and equipment.

Financial Considerations:

  • How does this program compare with the cost of similar programs at other 
    institutions?
    Note: If the cost is substantially higher, find out why. You can compare tuition 
    fees for similar programs here.
  • What is included in the price of tuition? Are there any additional costs?
    Note: Information given to you by the school should match the information 
    posted on our website under Institution & Program Search.
  • Can equipment/books be loaned or must they be purchased?
  • If required, what is the cost of repeating a subject?
  • Is tutoring available? If so, how much does this cost?
  • Are student loans and other financial assistance programs available?
  • Does the school offer any scholarships or discounts?

Other costs to consider: transport, accommodation, meals, equipment, uniforms,
licenses and graduation fees.

Job Opportunities:

  • What type of job and salary level can I expect upon finishing my training?
  • What graduate follow-up information is available? Ask the institution for statistics 
    on: percentage of students who graduate; how many are working full time/part 
    time post-graduation; and, how many are working in their chosen field of study.
    Note: Only accredited schools are required to record job-placement rates. It 
    is not mandatory for registered schools to track this information, but some might.
  • Is job placement assistance available through the institution? What does the 
    placement service include?
  • Are students taught job search techniques?

Note: Speak with employers in the field to check that the institution’s programs will
qualify you for the job you are after.

Student Contract:
Section 37 of the Bylaws contain a detailed list of what every school must include
in their student contract.

Here are some of the things you will find in a student contract (but it's best to
refer to the Bylaws for the full list):

-  Name and address of the school/institution.
-  Name of the program.
-  Start and end dates of the program.
-  Program duration.
-  Name and mailing address of the student.
-  The type of credential to be awarded upon completion (i.e. certificate or
     diploma).
-  Language of instruction.
-  Method of delivery (i.e. site-based, distance learning or on-line).
-  Itemized list of all other fees such as administrative fees, textbooks,
     materials, consumables, etc.
-  Total amount of tuition due under the contract in Canadian dollars,
     less discounts or scholarship amounts applied to the tuition.
-  Payment schedule if paying by installments.
-  Signatures of both an institution official and the student. Students
     under the age of 19 years must have their contract counter-signed
     by their parent or legal guardian.

Review everything thoroughly before signing. Familiarize yourself with the policies of
the institution, refund policy and their position on things such as dress code,
smoking, maintaining a certain average and attendance. Once you and someone
from the institution have signed the contract, keep the original in a safe place.

For more information, visit the BC Ministry of Advanced Education's guide on 
Being an Informed Student.