What to Look for When Choosing a Vocational School
Vocational schools, or trade schools, can be great places to learn important skills for your career development. Be aware, however, of what you are getting into before you commit to any one school.
What Is a Vocational School?
Vocational schools, which may also be known as trade schools or career colleges, exist primarily to provide students with the education they need to perform a certain job. Vocational schools are not institutions that focus on a well-rounded, liberal arts education.
Vocational schools can be everything from local career centers, high schools, and technical institutes to actual vocational school facilities. Three types of vocational school systems exist: public, private non-profit and private for-profit.
Some of the many occupations a student can train for through vocational schools include automotive technician, electronics technician, paralegal, truck driver, hair stylist, welder, medical assistant, and licensed practical nurse (LPN). While vocational schools may have remedial classes to bring students up to speed and more advanced classes in writing and other courses, the main focus is on a specific job.
Another difference between traditional colleges/universities and vocational schools is the fact that vocational schools are similar to the apprenticeship style of learning. As such, vocational schools emphasize on-the-job training.
Researching Vocational Schools
There are over 300 vocational or trade schools in the United States, each claiming they are the best. While many of these schools offer a good education and make few claims they can't back-up, potential students should do some research before making a commitment to their vocational school. The old adage 'if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is' applies here. The problem sometimes comes from certain for-profit vocational schools. In this case, more students equal more money for the people in charge, and that can lead to unsubstantiated claims made by the school for the sole purpose of boosting enrollment numbers.
The following questions and research tips may help you when looking for a vocational school:
Does the school offer the program you want? Is the school/program licensed or accredited? If so, by whom?What are the instructors' credentials? Could I obtain the training I want from another school, such as a community/junior college? Do I even need this additional education, or will the employer likely train me on-the-job? What is the total cost (include tuition, books, uniforms, lab fees, etc.)? Is financial aid available? Have any complaints been filed with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or State Attorney General's Office? What is the school's reputation in the industry? What other services does the school offer students and graduates?What are the facilities and equipment in the labs like? Are they up to date?Are there other tools or supplies you must purchase? What are the program's completion and job placement rates? Debt upon graduation rate? Will all my credits transfer if necessary?
Why Choose a Vocational School?
What is Vocational Training?
Imagine a post-secondary education that provides you with the career-oriented training to smoothly and quickly make the transition from attending school to obtaining the career you desire. If you want to become career-ready in less time than an ordinary college or university, adult career and vocational education is for you.
Vocational training is a great option for those with a specific career plan, who know exactly which industry and job position they are aiming for. Attending a vocational school allows students to quickly and efficiently learn the necessary job-related skills and background, often in less than a year, and graduate prepared to step into the career they have always wanted.
What Is a Technical School? Is It Different Than a Vocational One?
These are great questions. After all, the terms used to describe various types of post-secondary schools can definitely be a little confusing sometimes. But in this case, the answer is simple and easy to remember.
So, what is a technical school? It's basically the exact same thing as a vocational school. Heck, you can even add trade school to the list. These days, they are all interchangeable.
At a technical, vocational, or trade school, the programs are short and streamlined. They focus on helping you get practical, employment-ready skills for specific occupations. And, when necessary, many of them help you prepare for certification or licensing exams in the occupation that you're training for.
Most technical/vocational programs take less than a year or two to complete. Yet some schools also offer longer programs that may last up to three or four years for more in-depth training.
Career and Vocational Education
Students enrolled in vocational education can choose from a wide variety of available programs from many different industries, including business, health, technology, legal, and skilled trades. Popular programs can include dental assistant, administrative assistant, paralegal, IT specialist, and HVAC training. Many programs include a well-rounded curriculum that ensures students receive classroom learning and hands-on training, as well as real-life experience through externships at off-campus facilities.
Vocational Education Jobs
Upon graduation from a vocational college, you will be prepared to go after the career of your choice, whether your goal is to work as a carpenter, legal assistant, medical billing and coding specialist, computer programmer, or graphic designer. You can become an asset to businesses, government offices, and contractors with a vocational education that prepares you to make a seamless transition into the work force.
Vocational schools can also help prepare you to launch your own business from the ground up. Specialized training and the development of business skills, techniques, and an extensive base knowledge can allow you to graduate and move on to become a business owner, living the dream of becoming 'your own boss'.
If vocational training sounds like the right fit for you, make an action plan for vocational education by exploring the vocational colleges and the vocational education jobs available. The career of your dreams is waiting for you, make it a reality in less time than you imagined with a career-specific education from a vocational school.