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The Federal Trade Commission revised its Vocational School Guides, which advise against deceptive marketing practices by businesses that offer vocational training.
Created in 1972, the Vocational School Guides (formally known as Guides for Private Vocational and Distance Education Schools) address misrepresenting accreditation, the transferability of credit to other schools, government or employment agency affiliation, and testimonials or endorsements. They also warn against misrepresenting teacher or enrollment qualifications, the nature of courses, the availability of financial aid, and the availability of jobs for graduates. In addition, the Guides address the use of deceptive diplomas or certificates, and placing classified ads that appear to be “help wanted” ads.

In 2009, the FTC sought public comment on the Guides as part of its systematic review of all current FTC rules and guides. In response to those comments, the FTC has amended the Guides to address more specifically misrepresentations:

  • commonly used in recruitment, including those regarding completion/dropout rates and post-graduation job prospects;
  • about whether completion of a program will qualify students to take a licensing exam; 
  • concerning a student’s score on an admissions test, how long it takes to complete a course or program, or a student’s likelihood of success; and
  • regarding the likelihood of financial aid or help with language barriers or learning disabilities, or how much credit students will receive for courses completed elsewhere.

Students interested in pursuing training through a vocational school should review the FTC’s advice in Choosing a Vocational School.

The Commission vote approving the Federal Register Notice announcing retention of the Guides with amendments was 4-0.

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them.  To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).  The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.  The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.  Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

Contact Information


Frank Dorman,
Office of Public Affairs


Maria Del Monaco
FTC’s East Central Region