Your Career Finder -

Train For a New Career at Home

By Ellen Fix

Is your career floundering while co-workers and friends are passing you by? Would you like to acquire specialized skills and knowledge that could lay the foundation for a new and more exciting profession? Does your hectic schedule prevent you from attending classes to train for a new field?

A “yes” answer to any of these questions means you’re an ideal candidate for distance learning. With distance learning—commonly referred to as home study—you can develop professional-level skills in the comfort and convenience of your own home. Study anytime, anywhere: there are no boring lectures, no pop quizzes, and none of the hassles associated with commuting, parking, or racing to class before the bell rings.

According to the Distance Education and Training Council, a nationally recognized accrediting agency approved by the U.S. Department of Education, more than 130 million Americans have studied at DETC member institutions since 1890. Among them are such familiar figures as Franklin D. Roosevelt, Walter P. Chrysler, Walter Cronkite, Barry Goldwater, Charles Schulz, and many others.

While distance learning courses and on-line instruction are options offered by conventional colleges, several schools are designed exclusively for the independent learner. Professional Career Development Institute is one such school. PCDI (, based in Atlanta, Georgia, provides home study diploma courses in more than 40 career fields, plus a variety of associate’s degree programs and a high school diploma program.

Home Study Can Lead to Success
Rose Dwyer of Palm Coast, Florida, a legal secretary and single mother of a kindergartner, wanted to become a paralegal. The long commute to the local community college was prohibitive, so she opted for a PCDI home study course. Studying at home two hours each evening, she graduated with 93% grade point average. With her nationally accredited diploma in hand, Rose achieved her dream of pursuing a satisfying career as a paralegal.

Kristen Vermilye of Chelsea, Michigan, was impressed with the thoroughness of her course in medical transcription from PCDI. Says Kristen, “Everything—the study materials, the textbook, the course organization, the quality of instruction—was so professional. After just a few months of study, I knew I could go out in the real world and apply what I learned.” Of course, what impressed Kristen most about the course was that, “with no prior training, you can teach yourself, studying on your own time. “

Flexibility Is The Main Advantage
Indeed, convenience is a key reason most people enroll in home study training programs. Here are some common advantages of being an independent learner at a DETC-accredited institution:
  1. All books, lessons, and study materials arrive at your door or are available online.
  2. Take tests and exams with your books and notes open.
  3. Receive personal assistance when you need it: by phone, fax, mail, or e-mail.
  4. Learn at your own pace, without the pressure of deadlines.
  5. Study in your spare time, without disrupting your job or personal activities.
  6. The quality of instruction is equal to and sometimes better than that offered by traditional schools.
Would You Do Well As A Distance Learner?
Take this quiz to find out how well you’d do as a student at PCDI or other home study school:
  1. Are you self-motivated?
  2. Are you reasonably well-organized and self-disciplined?
  3. Do you have a strong desire to learn a specialized subject, train for a specific career, earn your high school diploma, or earn a degree?
  4. Can you establish and stick to a regular study schedule of at least a few hours each week?
  5. Do you enjoy doing things independently?
"Yes" answers to at least three of these questions means you'd likely be well suited to home study.

How To Choose The Right School
Before you enroll in a distance learning program, investigate the school's offerings in term of:

1. Accreditation. There are many accrediting agencies, but not all are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Check with the U.S. Department of Education (, the Distance Education Training Council (, or the Council For Higher Education Accreditation ( to confirm the legitimacy of accrediting organizations.

2. Faculty. Does the school employ education professionals with appropriate teaching credentials? Do individual instructors have practical experience in their fields?

3. Track Record. How many people have graduated from the school? Has the school been in business long enough to have published testimonials—either on its Web site or in their literature?

4. Support Services. Does the school provide toll-free assistance? Can you get help when you need it? Are there "real people" you can talk to when you have questions about the course material, payments, shipment of materials, exams, your grades and transcript?

5. Tuition. Is the tuition affordable and comparable to other similar distance learning programs? Are payment plans available? Does the tuition cover - without hidden costs - the entire program including texts, lessons, study instructions, exam grading, help-desk services, and approved certification at graduation?

6. Financial Aid. A legitimate school will qualify for one or more financial aid programs. The DANTES program, for instance, offers tuition reimbursement for active or reserve military personnel who graduate from qualified schools. And under IRS Code, Section 127, the Employer Education Assistance Act may provide for part or total tuition reimbursement to employees. Your personnel department can give you details.

Home Study Is Ideal For Many People
The high school drop-out...the busy mom who yearns to start a home-based business...the entrepreneur...the college student...and the perpetual intellectual can all benefit from home study courses. What they all share in common is a high value on their free time, coupled with a strong desire to gain useful, practical knowledge. If you can follow through on a plan of action, earning a diploma or degree in your spare time offers the promise of tremendous pride and satisfaction.

Ellen Fix is copywriter and journalist with twenty years of professional writing experience. If you would like to reach Ellen Fix, please email her at

Copyright 2002 -2004 Ellen Fix - All Rights Reserved.
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