What Is Vocational Training?

Vocational training is education in preparation for a specific career or trade. Vocational training typically takes two years of school or less, although trade apprenticeships often take four years of on-the-job training. The term 'vocational training' does not include training for the professions that require a bachelor's degree or more advanced education.

About Vocational Training

Vocational training prepares students for jobs like pipefitter, construction worker, office worker, health technician, chef or pastry cook, truck driver and many more. It does not include 'professional' careers like lawyer, physician, teacher, minister or accountant, although their assistants frequently have had vocational training.

Vocational training may not include general education courses typical of a bachelor's degree. There is a stigma associated with the term 'vocational' training or education, as if it is for students who can't succeed in college. In fact, vocational training can lead to careers that are personally and financially rewarding.

Important Facts About This Field of Study

Prerequisites Some high school programs require an application, including a student's grades and attendance records, as well as an interview
Program Types Installation, maintenance, production, lab technology
Online Availability Fully online programs available for some occupations
Continuing Education Certain vocations, like those of certified nurse aides, usually require continuing education coursework every few years in order to maintain certification

Career Preparation

Skills for some careers can be learned through on-the-job training or apprenticeships. At one time, it was common for nurses to learn on the job, but as the Bachelor of Science in Nursing has slowly become the expected credential for a registered nurse, this is less true. However, the following careers are among those with entry paths that include vocational training:

  • Electrician, plumber, industrial mechanic and other 'skilled trades': Typically, these jobs require four years of apprenticeship with a master in the trade, plus a prescribed course of education during those years.
  • Auto mechanic: These skills are frequently learned in collaboration with an auto manufacturer.
  • Ship crew (able seaman) and piloting occupations: These trades are usually learned through apprenticeship programs.
  • Computer or network technician: Job skills in this field are often learned in certificate courses approved by Microsoft or Cisco.
  • Certified Nurse's Aide (CNA): Training for CNAs is sometimes offered by large health care institutions, as well as vocational and technical schools

Training at High Schools and Community Colleges

Community colleges specialize in preparing people for success in the workforce. Often, high school students with specific vocational interests can take courses either at their high school or at a local community college that will help them get a start in the field. High school students might get vocational training in the occupations below and dozens more:

  • Medical office administrator
  • Bookkeeper, night auditor or accounting clerk
  • Medical coder or transcriptionist
  • Firefighter
  • Interior designer
  • Home inspector
  • Veterinary assistant

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