Career Training: Preparing for the Workplace

Career and vocational courses provide useful skills to help prisoners find employment after their release.

Career and vocational courses provide useful skills to help prisoners find employment after their release.

Of all the different types of correspondence education that prisoners can participate in, career and vocational courses for prisoners are probably the most useful. This is because they quickly and relatively inexpensively provide prisoners with the knowledge and tools needed to immediately get a job upon their release from prison.

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Let's face it, college isn't for everyone, but having a job is. If you know anyone in prison who isn't interested in a college education - or who can't afford college correspondence courses - then career and vocational courses might be a good option.

There are literally hundreds of vocational courses to choose from, such as HVAC, AutoCAD, building trades, paralegal, writing, personal fitness and veterinarian assistant. There are literally hundreds of options to choose from, and almost all of them offer payment plans and can take as little as two or three months to a year or two to complete; much less time and much more financially flexible than traditional college correspondence courses. 

Factors

There are three primary factors to consider when selecting a career and vocational program:

  1. Personal interest. In order to succeed in a correspondence program - and to take that knowledge and use it to find a job when they're released - they have to really want to learn about the topic and put it into practice. Therefore, they should only enroll in a program that truly interests them. 
  2. Look for a program that is either affiliated with a related professional body or are actually offered through the professional body itself. For the most part, career-level correspondence programs aren't accredited. If the correspondence program is somehow linked with the primary professional body (e.g., legal programs could be affiliated with a national paralegal association), then it is a program to take a good look at. The same can be said for programs that have agreements with unions or employers to supply workers or interns.
  3. Any program considered should, at a minimum, qualify graduates to sit for certifying or licensure examinations upon program completion. Some professions require certifications, some don't, and some view professional certifications as a nice plus. For example, in the paralegal realm, paralegals are not required to be certified unless working in North Carolina or California, but they must go through a legitimate training program. Some paralegal programs - for example, Blackstone Career Institute -- qualify graduates to sit for national paralegal association certifications. These are additional examinations to prove expertise in the field of study. The same is true with other topical areas. 

Recommended Career and Vocational Programs

In an effort to point our readers in the right direction, PrisonEducation.com has put together the following list of recommended career and vocational correspondence programs. All these programs are top-notch and our list of recommended schools provide a healthy breadth of topical areas.

It might be a good idea to contact all of these correspondence program providers and have them send the incarcerated student their course catalogs. This way the prisoner can select the program that interests them the most.

Career and Vocational Correspondence Programs for Prisoners