Editor’s note: The following article was contributed by Veterans Education Success. The content may be edited for clarity, style and length. Find more at https://veteranseducationsuccess.org/.

The reason that accreditation matters so much is because it tells you about the quality of the school and whether your degree will be respected by employers. It also helps determine whether your credits will be honored by other schools if you decide to transfer. In fact, some careers require specialized accreditation, and you might find yourself out of luck if you go to a school that doesn’t have the specific accreditation needed to work in your chosen field.

A school merely being “accredited,” may not be enough. Of course, all schools must be accredited to be eligible for federal and state financial aid programs. But not all types of accreditation are the same. Some aren’t respected by employers or other schools.

There are different types of accreditation. These are “regionally accredited” schools and “nationally accredited” schools. Regional is the more prestigious and highly regarded of the two accreditation types. If you decide to attend a school with “national accreditation,” remember this: Your credits may not transfer to regionally accredited schools because of the different academic standards and courses of study.

The second important thing to know is that there are two levels of accreditation: One for the college as a whole and a second accreditation for some specific programs of study within the college. This is because certain careers require specialized accreditation. And, once again, there are some accreditation types that are respected and some that are not. Therefore, it’s important to check that your individual program of study is recognized by the top accrediting agency in your field of study. If you want to be a nurse, you’d better be sure that your nursing program has the right accreditation. Same thing with most health fields, including massage, dental assisting, and more. It’s also true for legal jobs, as well as truck driving, plumbing, electricity and many other careers. This is critical, because state licensing exams often require specific accreditation for you to be eligible.

Whether you are interested in attending an online university or a traditional “brick and mortar” college, be sure you ask employers and other colleges if the program you’re considering has the accreditation most respected in your field.

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