How to Choose the Right Career Training Program for You

We’re all better at something when we enjoy doing it, so choosing a career you love and excel at will set you up for lasting success and fulfillment. However, with so many different career paths and training options available, it can be overwhelming as you try to choose what’s best for you.

These are important decisions that will affect your future, so taking time to set your career goals, determine your needs, and find a career training program that fits your needs, are essential steps to get you into your new career. This week, we will explore the best ways to make these important decisions and the things you should consider as you go.

Set Your Career Goals

The first thing to consider as you plan your path toward a career you will love, is what are your career goals? You may already have a set goal in mind, such as becoming a doctor, or you may need help figuring this out for yourself. For those who are still undecided on exactly what their career goals should be, there are a few questions to ask yourself that will help you create your own personal career goals.

  • Why do you want to start a new career? Starting with the reasons you want to begin a new career is helpful because it will guide and motivate you as you begin this new journey. Are you trying to create a better life for your family? Are you just very self-motivated and driven? Or is there something else pushing you?
  • What are you looking for in a new career? To set career goals that fit you, it’s important to know exactly what you want from your new career path. Do you want an increased salary, better job security, more flexibility, the opportunity to help people, the ability to work from home, or something else?
  • What areas are you interested in? Figuring out what you’re already good at and what you are interested in will help guide you toward the right career path for you. For example, maybe you enjoy working with computers, or maybe you prefer to work with people instead. Whatever it may be, choose a career path you will enjoy and be good at.
  • Do you plan to continue advancing your career? Deciding now if you want to get your dream job and stay in it for a while, or continue advancing and climbing the ladder to a leadership role, will help you decide on goals that fit your now and your future.
  • Where do you want to be in five years? You know where you are now, and this question helps you visualize where you’re going. What exactly do you want once you meet your career goals? Do you want to be able to afford nice vacations? Is your goal to eventually buy a house? Or pay for your children’s education? Whatever is it that you want for yourself, creating a specific vision will help keep you motivated and inspired along the way.

After answering these questions, you should be ready to set career goals that will help create the future you want for yourself. Remember, any goals you set for yourself should always be SMART goals, which means they are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely.

Here is a great example of a SMART career goal: I want to start a career as a practical nurse in Fayette County in one year.

Determine Your Needs

Now that you’ve created career goals for yourself, it’s time to determine exactly what you need to get there. Each career field has different degrees and training requirements, and you have specific needs that will help you reach your goals.

First, look at some of the job descriptions for the career you want to pursue. If you want to become a practical nurse, look at some of the local places hiring for this role. What education or training do they require? Will you need a license to practice? Do they want you to have completed clinical hours? Do you need experience? What skills will you have to perform while on the job? After you have looked at some job descriptions, make a list of the most common things you noticed. This list of education, skills, experience, and credentials is exactly what you need to gain in order to qualify for the job you want.

It’s important to know exactly what you need to get your dream job, but you also need to know which path will work best for you. Answering the following questions will help direct you toward the path that fits your specific needs.

  • What is your learning style? We all have different learning styles. Some people learn better by reading about a topic, some by hearing others explain it, and some by getting hands-on and doing it themselves. Figuring out your learning style will help you choose a career training program that teaches to the way you learn.
  • What is your personality type? In addition to different learning styles, we all have different personality types. Consider taking a personality test, such as the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator, to find out your personality type, as this can help you throughout the process of planning the path to reach your career goals.

You’re now equipped with exactly what you need to qualify for your dream job and what you need from a career training program to perform your best.

Research Career Training Options

You have set your career goals and know exactly what you need to get there, so now you’re ready to explore the different career training options available and choose the one that works best for you. To do this, you will need to evaluate different programs based on how they help you achieve your career goals and how well they meet your specific needs.

  • Does the program train you for the specific job you want? It’s time to use the list you made in the last step of exactly what employers require for your specific job. Compare the career training programs you are considering to this list. Does it provide you with the knowledge and skills needed? Do you prepare for certifications? Is the program length aligned with when you want to start your new career?
  • Is the school aligned with your needs? Next, you need to determine if the school will work for you. Here are some questions to ask about each school. Do you have a dedicated admissions advisor to help you as you apply? Does the school offer resources like financial aid and grants/scholarships? Does the teaching style work with your learning style? Do students get personalized instruction?
  • What support is offered to students? Finally, you need to know what support is offered to students as they complete their career training and beyond. Here are a few things to ask. Is there a supportive environment for students? Do students receive additional help when needed? Are career services offered to help students get from the program to a job? Are there any resources that students will continue to have even after graduation?

As you evaluate the different alternatives for career training, feel free to make a pros and cons list for each to help you compare them. Once you have evaluated your career training options, you can confidently choose the one that will set you up for career success, because you know it’s training you in the exact areas you need, in the way that you learn best.

Get Started Today

Now that you’ve set your career goals, determined your needs, and decided on a career training program, you’re ready to get started! If you’re looking to start a career in the exciting field of healthcare, United Career Institute may be the perfect choice for you. We offer fast-track healthcare training programs in Practical Nursing, Medical Assisting, and Medical Insurance Billing and Coding.

Request information or contact us at (724) 437-4600 today, and one of our friendly admissions advisors will work with you to create a career plan customized for you!

Campus Safety – Mt. Braddock


At United Career Institute Mt. Braddock, we take pride in making our students feel at home. Part of making our students feel at home is making their health and safety our top priority. Campus safety can mean many different things. It could be protecting their psychological health by offering a safe place to talk and share. Other times, it could be protecting their professional health by ensuring they know the proper way to use protective gear while performing medical procedures. It also means protecting their physical health by providing a clean and healthy school environment. In the days of COVID-19, ensuring our student’s health and safety has never been so important. Read on to find out how we are making United Career Institute a safe environment for students, staff, and visitors.

The first step we take in protecting anybody who enters our school is taking temperatures. Everybody who enters the building must have their temperature taken, no exceptions. Anybody who does not meet the temperature requirements cannot come back to the building until they produce a negative COVID test or until their temperature returns to normal. All students, staff, and visitors must sign a waiver ensuring that they have not traveled to any hot spots, experienced COVID symptoms, or been in close contact with somebody who has tested positive.

The next step we are taking in ensuring the safety of our campus, is wearing masks. Anybody who enters our building is required to wear a mask, with the only exception being those who have a medical reason prohibiting them from wearing one. Since we offer in-demand medical programs at United, many of our students view this as an opportunity to prepare for their future careers!

In addition to the actions we are taking listed above, we have posted CDC guidelines around the building to remind students, employees, and visitors to frequently wash their hands (for 20 seconds at least), avoid touching their nose and mouth, and go home if they begin feeling sick. We also provide hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes in high traffic areas of the building. This includes the front desk, bathrooms, classrooms, and offices. As many of these precautionary measures are important to practice when working in the medical field, we are using COVID as an opportunity to teach our students what it is really like to work day to day in a hospital, doctor’s office, or clinic.

At United Career Institute, our students are considered a part of the United family. One of our core values is “Caring” and one way we demonstrate that is by ensuring our campus is safe for everybody who walks through our doors.

To learn more about the caring environment you will experience at United Career Institute Mt. Braddock, request information here!

Haley Sance – Student Highlight

Haley Sance chose United Career Institute because she was not interested in going to a large, four-year school. She was interested in the medical field, but wished to start off slowly in order to narrow down her options. She wanted the comfortable, small school environment that United offered.

Haley Sance-Student Highlight

Her favorite part of attending United Career Institute, so far, has been the holiday celebrations.  “They are so much fun and give us time to relax in school.”

Her favorite teacher is Roxanne Seaton.  “She was my first teacher at PIHT so she really helped me get comfortable. She is well educated, so I have a lot of respect for her.”

Haley’s ideal job is to work as a medical assistant in a pediatrician’s office. She feels this career path is the most suitable for her because she enjoys working with children. In five years, she would like to have a new, reliable car and a steady job to begin saving for her dream home.

Haley would refer a friend to United Career Institute because the outcome of the program is worth all of the stress that goes into being a college student. Haley has excelled during her time with United and we are very proud of her.

To learn more about United’s medical career training programs, click here!

Mallory Strauser – Student Highlight

Mallory Strauser is a Medical Insurance Billing and Coding student at United Career Institute in Fayette County. She works at Shop N Save but knew this work wouldn’t be fulfilling long tern and decided to further her education. Mallory knew that she wanted to be part of a healthcare team, but knew that the clinical aspect of the field was not for her or her “weak stomach”. With having no previous post-secondary school experience, she turned to her family for advice. Her family was more than happy to recommend UCI. Her mother and husband are both successful medical assisting graduates and had nothing but positive things to say about the school, its reputation, and its welcoming atmosphere.Mallory Strauser - Student Highlight

Mallory’s favorite part about attending UCI is the family like atmosphere, the staff’s unwavering commitment to its students, and their willingness to help anyone struggling. Mallory’s favorite instructors are Kelli Workman and Roxanne Seaton. When asked why, she said, “they explain things in a way that makes sense.” Her favorite class so far is Medical Terminology. “It was like learning a different language.”

Mallory hopes that in five years she will be gainfully employed at a pediatrician’s office in a career that she loves and settled in her role so that she can focus on starting a family. When asked if she would refer a friend to United Career Institute her response was simple. “Absolutely, the school is welcoming and I have learned a lot.”

To learn more about United’s Medical Insurance Billing and Coding program, request information here!

We’re Here for You Through COVID-19

As we all try to adjust to dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, we understand that life has changed dramatically over the last few weeks. From homeschooling our children, to having our movements restricted, to the heroes who are on the front lines fighting this virus, we have all been affected.

At United Career Institute, we want our students, our community, and our future students to know, we are here for you and will support you in any way we can. We are all in this fight together, and we will get through it together.

Supporting United Students

We think of ourselves more as a family, and not just a school. Even through this difficult time, we are still fully committed to our purpose, which is to empower change by creating opportunity.

We are committed to serving and supporting our family of students through the COVID-19 pandemic. To continue educating and training our students for rewarding, successful careers, we are now providing online remote instruction for all students.

Via distance learning, students can continue to develop their skills and gain valuable knowledge that will set them up for success in their future careers. While students cannot physically attend classes or be on-campus, all instructors are fully available to assist and support students in any way possible.

For active students, in good academic standing, who are unable to begin or complete an externship due to COVID-19, United has created an Interim Leave of Absence Policy. In addition, we have revised the current Incomplete Policy to further support students who are unable to sit for their certification exams during this time. Please visit the COVID-19 Information page for more information and guidance on these policies.

Supporting the Community

In addition to supporting our students through the COVID-19 pandemic, we are highly invested in the local healthcare community, and are dedicated to serving it as best we can by providing the workforce with trained medical professionals.

With healthcare programs including Practical Nursing, Medical Assisting, and Medical Office Administration, United – Fayette County graduates are on the front lines battling the virus by caring for sick patients and providing essential support to hospitals and doctor’s offices.

We pledge to support our local healthcare teams and community members by continuing to educate and train essential healthcare workers who are desperately needed during this time.

Supporting Future Students

We know that many people and families have been negatively impacted by COVID-19 and the mandatory restrictions on non-essential businesses. Due to these restrictions, many people have lost their jobs or been laid off, with millions of people around the country who have already applied for unemployment benefits.

As a school with the purpose of empowering change by creating opportunity, we know that we have a responsibility to help people get retrained and back to work. With this in mind, we have added virtual campus visits as an alternative to touring the campus in person. We hope this will allow those who have been affected to start their path to a more secure career, by training for valuable healthcare jobs.

In addition, high schoolers who are uncertain about what to do next due to COVID-19, are encouraged to explore our career training programs, which can lead to successful healthcare careers.

To learn more about our Practical Nursing, Medical Assisting, and Medical Office Administration programs, contact us today to schedule a remote admissions meeting.

Meet the Practical Nursing Director – Pam Hughes

Meet Pam Hughes, Practical Nursing Director at United Career Institute!

Pam Hughes Practical Nursing Director

As the Practical Nursing Director at United, Pam loves her role and enabling students to thrive. “I love the United faculty and staff, but more so, I love watching the students succeed and grow.”

Pam has an amazing philosophy on helping students achieve their career goals, and it is showing a passion for teaching and helping students, a goal that’s instilled in all faculty members at United. She works to teach students to believe in themselves and accept themselves for who they are, while embracing everyone and their differences.

“United Career Institute is a family atmosphere and you are not a number, but an individual. Students are safe within our walls and we’re all here to help them, whether it is with their schoolwork or if they just need someone to talk to,” said Pam.

As a 2004 graduate of United Career Institute (formally PIHT), Pam knows first-hand how wonderful the family atmosphere is here. After graduating, Pam was given an opportunity to substitute at United when a medical instructor needed some time off. “I loved attending United as a student and I love teaching,” said Pam.

Pam earned an Associate in Specialized Science from Penn State in 2009 and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in December 2011. She went on to complete a Master of Science in Nursing/Family Nurse Practitioner and graduated in July 2019.

In January 2006, Pam was offered a teaching position at United and happily accepted. She worked her way up from an instructor to the Medical Assistant Program Director, and then to the Practical Nursing Director. When asked what drives her to work in education, Pam happily responded, “the students.”

When asked what drives her to get up and give her best each day, Pam’s response was an inspiring one: life. “I love life and when I come to work, I want the students, faculty, and staff to see me energized and smiling. In turn, they will also be happy and smiling.”

The accomplishment Pam is most proud of in her life is her education, because it allowed her to achieve her career goals. “Prior to becoming a student at United, I was working as an administrative assistant. While that was fine, there was no room for advancement.”

The thing Pam loves the most about her role as Practical Nursing Director is the family atmosphere.

Outside of work, Pam enjoys spending quality time with her husband. Her favorite food is pizza, and if she could have one superpower, it would be to cure diseases of all kinds.

Are you ready to jump-start your great healthcare career with a school that truly wants their students to succeed? Request information now to get started today!

Amber Berdar – Student Highlight

United Career Institute is the first post-secondary school Amber Berdar has attended. Before coming to school here, Amber had just graduated from high school. She heard of the school during a job fair at California University of Pennsylvania, where she met our High School Admissions Representative, Meghan Murray.Amber Berdar-Student Highlight

Amber decided to become a medical assistant because she wanted to further her education in the medical field, growing from her current position as a Certified Nursing Assistant. She has always felt the need to help others and had the desire to work in the medical field.

She decided to start out as a medical assistant, because she believes in working from the bottom up. She wants to start with the basics so she will have a lot more knowledge and experience as she advances in the medical field.

Amber can’t pick a favorite part of attending United Career Institute. She has loved the whole experience, from meeting all the teachers to being able to learn so much from them. The school feels like a second home to her.

Amber has two favorite teachers, Kelli Workman and Rachel Osniak. She likes Kelli because she has taught her everything she needs to know when it comes to medical knowledge, and she likes Rachel because she taught her many things she can use after she graduates.

Her ideal job after graduation would be working somewhere in a lab, where she can perform phlebotomy all day, or somewhere in an ER setting.

In five years, Amber would love to have her dream job as a trauma nurse. She would also like to be living on her own and have a family.

Amber says she would definitely refer United Career Institute to a friend because this place is an amazing learning environment and everyone is so supportive here. She says you have the opportunity to make many new friends and many memories that will never be forgotten.

Mackenzie Furin – Student Highlight

Prior to choosing United Career Institute (at the time PIHT), Mackenzie had considered attending post-secondary schools but none felt “right.” That changed when she walked through United’s doors.

Mackenzie Furin-Student Highlight

At that point in time, Mackenzie worked full time at a video rental store but she wanted more.  She chose United because it felt different than the other schools that she had looked into. The campus was small and didn’t overwhelm her in the way other campuses had. In her words, “It felt like home.”

Mackenzie is enrolled in United Career Institute’s Medical Assisting Program and has a 4.0 GPA. She chose the MA program because she is a very hands-on person and wishes to be in the “center of the action, doing blood draws and giving injections.”

Her favorite part of being a student at UCI is tied between her instructors and the family (her peers) that she has made during her tenure. “Everyone is kind and really cares about your success. I’ve made lifelong friends and met amazing instructors that will impact my life for years to come. I love all of my instructors, but Kelli and Roxanne have really helped me to believe in my potential.”

Mackenzie’s favorite class was Pharmacology because she enjoys learning about medicine and how it works. She is currently doing her externship at an obstetrician’s office which has helped her to realize that she would like to continue in the OBGYN field.

After graduation, she would like to enroll in UCI’s nursing program with the goal of becoming an RN within five years.

“I can wholeheartedly say that I would recommend PIHT to anyone pursuing a career in the medical field.  It’s been great here and I’ll miss it dearly.”

To learn more about United Career Institute’s medical programs, click here!

Chloe Eicher – Student Highlight

United Career Institute would like to introduce you to Chloe Eicher!  Chloe has been a medical assisting student at United since she graduated from Albert Gallatin Senior High School in 2019.

Chloe chose United for three reasons. The school is close to home, it’s small, and they specialize in fast track training. “I always heard amazing things about this school and wanted to come here because of the reputation.”

Chloe Eicher-Student Highlight

Chloe says that the Medical Assisting program will help her continue to build her medical career and reach her ultimate goal of becoming a surgeon. “It’s a building block to becoming a surgeon eventually.  I want all the education I can have before I reach that step.”

Her favorite part of attending United Career Institute is the small class sizes and personable staff.  When asked to choose a favorite teacher, she said, “I can’t, I love them all!” Her favorite class is Anatomy, which she finds to be the most interesting one she has had so far.

After graduation, Chloe would like to continue her education in a school with a surgical technician program so that she can continue down the path toward becoming a surgeon.

Would she refer a friend to United Career Institute?  “Absolutely.  It’s a wonderful school where everyone is nice and I love it here.  I don’t like much, but I love this school!”

To learn more about our fast track medical programs, request information here!

How to Create SMART Career Goals

For all of us, there are things we want to accomplish in life and in our careers. Maybe your dream is to be the first one in your family to graduate from college. Or maybe you are unhappy in your current job and want to get into a new, more fulfilling career. Maybe you already have a great job and want to advance within your current company.

Whatever it is that you want to achieve in your career, creating goals can help get you there. For goals to be effective, they need to follow a few guidelines. Your SMART career goals should be these five things: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.

When you create SMART career goals that meet these criteria, you have a much higher chance of reaching your goals. So how do you create SMART career goals? Read on as we share exactly how!

Specific

The first thing SMART career goals need to be is specific, because with very specific goals, you know exactly what you must do to reach them. Here is an example of a specific career goal that someone may have: I want to graduate from a Medical Assisting program in Fayette County within 18 months in order to start a more fulfilling career. This goal is specific enough to work toward and accomplish because it answers these questions:

  • Who: I want to…
  • What: …graduate from a Medical Assisting program…
  • Where: …in Fayette County
  • When: …within 18 months…
  • Why: …in order to start a more fulfilling career.

By answering the questions above when creating your career goals, you know exactly what you need to do to achieve them.

Measurable

The second thing you need to ensure when creating your SMART career goals, is that they are measurable. Goals need to be measured so that you can track your progress along the way. By doing this, you will know if you’re on track to meet your goals or if there is something that needs to be adjusted in order to meet them.

The best way to do this is to break down your larger goal into smaller chunks. In our Medical Assisting program goal example, we could measure it along the way by listing each class that must be taken as part of the program. In doing this, every time you pass a class, you are one step closer to your goal.

Attainable

When creating SMART career goals, the third thing you need to consider is whether the goals are attainable and achievable. This is an important step because when goals are not attainable, it’s hard to stay motivated to keep working toward them. For example, going to Mars within the next month sounds like an awesome goal, but it’s not attainable, because we don’t currently have the technology to go to Mars. So, while it can seem like a good idea to set your goals super high, doing so can be demotivating because you know they can’t be accomplished anyway.

Using our Medical Assisting program example, a few things to consider to ensure this goal is attainable are the following:

  • Do I have the time to commit to the program?
  • Do I have the support system to succeed in the program?
  • Do I have the prerequisites for the program?
  • Do I have the resources to pay for the program?

If you can answer yes to these questions, you’re well on your way to achieving your goal of completing a Medical Assisting program. If you answered no to any of these questions, don’t worry! The United staff can help you through the process!

Relevant

For your SMART career goals, the next thing you need to ensure is that they are actually relevant to you. Is the goal something that you really want? Do you care enough about it to put in the necessary work to reach the goal? Does this specific goal align with your other goals? Does the goal help you get closer to your long-term goals and dreams?

In our Medical Assisting program goal example, it is relevant because completing the program will help accomplish the dream of starting a more fulfilling career. So, by achieving one goal, you are actually working toward a longer term goal of having a career that provides more meaning and fulfillment.

Timely

The last thing to consider when creating SMART career goals is that they must be timely. This means that each goal should have a time frame in which it will be accomplished. Without a deadline and timeframe for your goal, there will be no sense of urgency to continue working toward it.

When creating your goal, in addition to including a deadline to reach the goal itself, add deadlines for specific events along the way. For our Medical Assisting example, you could create deadlines for when you will take and pass each class, complete your externship, and pass your certification tests.

Achieve Your Career Goals

Now you’re on the way to creating your own SMART career goals! If you’ve ever dreamed of completing a fast track training program, starting a new career, or working in an industry that allows you to help people on a daily basis, we have the programs to help get you there.

Learn more about our Practical Nursing, Medical Assisting, and Medical Office Administration programs and request information today to get started!