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What Kind of Occupation Should I Pursue?

Job retraining enables you to enter the workforce in a new capacity.  The position might be a little different than what you did before, or require skills that are entirely new to you. When choosing a career, it’s important to find out everything you can about a new job. At a minimum, consider the following: 

  1. Is this profession physically appropriate?  For example, if you have a back injury, a job requiring heavy lifting may conflict with your physical limitations.
  2. Do I have the basic skills for the job?  For example, many occupations require a certain level of proficiency in math and reading. 
  3. What is the employment outlook for the occupation?  In most cases, it is best to choose an occupation that has openings available in your area.  There are many online resources for finding information about job availability. (See the “Resources” section at the end of this guidebook.)

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How do I Choose a School?

Once you have chosen an occupation that you would like to pursue, the next step is to find a school for your training.  The following should be considered:

  1. Can the school accept your voucher?
    To accept the voucher, the school must be either (a) accredited, (b) state approved by the Bureau for Private Postsecondary and Vocational Education (BPPVE), (c) or approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). 
  2. Does the school have a good history and a solid reputation in the program you are considering?
  3. Is the school convenient for you?
    If it is a live school, such as a community college, ensure that it is conveniently located, accessible (considering your injury), and that it offers a schedule that will fit your needs.  For many injured workers, a distance-education school can provide a better alternative and offer the same quality of training.
  4. Does the school provide career guidance and job assistance?
    These are often not readily available to voucher holders and should be sought when selecting a school (especially if you are not using a return-to-work counselor).

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Can I Use the Voucher at an Out of State School?

Yes. You can use the voucher to pay an out of state private provider of education-related retraining or skill enhancement. Just make sure they are approved by the governing state agency similarly to the way California providers are approved.

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Can I Use My Voucher at More Than One School?

Yes.  As long as the total voucher amount has not been used, your voucher can be used any number of times at any number of schools.  You may continue using your voucher until the entire amount has been depleted.

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Do I Need to Receive the Voucher Before Beginning My Training?

No.  If you prefer, you may pay your educational expenses up-front and submit your receipts and enrollment information to your insurer for reimbursement.  Contact your insurer for more information about timing and coverage limitations.

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Do I Need a Rehabilitation Counselor?

If you are unsure about the kinds of occupations you are likely to succeed in, it is recommended that you use the services of a Qualified Rehabilitation Counselor.

A Rehabilitation Counselor can provide many valuable services to help you with your retraining, including:

  1. Expert advice about the careers you are interested in.
  2. Assessment testing to help you select an occupation that will be appropriate for you for your skills and physical challenges.
  3. Assistance with finding and securing a job upon the completion of your retraining.
  4. Assistance getting through the Workers’ Compensation voucher system.

The counselor will collect up to 10% of your voucher amount as a fee for his/her services, leaving 90% of the voucher funds still available for educational expenses.  Although the services of a Vocational Return to Work Counselor (VRTWC) are often recommended, they are not mandatory.  To locate a counselor, call the California Division of Workers’ Compensation at (800) 736-7401 or see the list of counselors at the DWC website: www.dir.ca.gov/dwc/SJDB/VRTWC_list.pdf

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