Vocational training can teach you a lot of highly specific and valuable skills for a trade, which could lead to a very long and lucrative career. So what is vocational education, and what kinds of trade school jobs will become available to you after you receive it? How do you know if trade school is the right option for you?
Let's dive in.
Vocational education refers to training for a specific occupation through theoretical teaching and practical experience. This might be in agriculture, trade or industry. That said, while vocational training was one only used for fields like welding and automotive services, today it can be for everything from retail to tourism management and more. In other words, what differentiates vocational training from other forms of traditional academics is largely that the training is only for the exact trade for which a student plans to pursue.
Many high schools (as part of their commercial and technical divisions) and many special institutions of collegiate standing offer vocational training, such as colleges of agriculture, technical institutes and schools of engineering. If you receive vocational training in high school as a junior or senior, either on-site or in conjunction with a career training center or school, you can enter the job market immediately following graduation from your program. For those who choose to go to a community college with a vocational career training program, you can come out in two years with an associate's degree, and it may or may not include a certificate program. And those who choose trade school can specialize in a single area, such as in healthcare or the culinary arts.
When you graduate from vocational training, you'll likely receive a certificate, a diploma or an associate's degree, as there are programs for all. That said, you can also take standalone courses for vocational training. Standalone courses might be anything from solar energy technology to bakery and confectionery to electroplating to poultry farming to stenography.
Likewise, apprenticeships are widely available for different trade jobs, which are different from actual trade schools . Apprenticeships are for those looking to learn by doing, and apprenticeships grant workers the security of guaranteed employment for a set length of time with the company that trained them.
There are tons of skills you'll learn via vocational training, and they depend on the type of vocational education you pursue. You may learn skills such as the following:
Vocational training may or may not pay you. This depends on factors such as whether you've pursued vocational training on your own or if the company for which you already work decides to send you for more vocational training. If you pursue trade school on your own, you'll have to pay tuition fees still — though they're typically less costly than tuition fees at a traditional four-year college or university.
If you decide to take an apprenticeship, however, you will be paid. That said, the pay is up to the company that's employing/training you.
There are tons of both pros and cons to vocational training.
“I wanted to do things I was actually going to do. I didn’t want to take a math class if I wasn’t going to be using math,” Melissa Smith, who went on to became the administrative professional she’s always wanted to be, told Fairygodboss. “It was very much hands-on work. Trade school is pretty much a nine-to-five, and I felt very prepared to enter the workforce. I knew what it was like to be at the office all day long. I knew what it was like to sit in front of a desk, be on the computer, to wear heels. We had to dress as if we were going into the office every day.”
In fact, over the years, even the mainstream media, from The Wall Street Journal to PBS, have hailed trade schools as forerunners of a new economy and touted them for reforming the postsecondary education system that’s becoming ever more unaffordable. For example, the cost of a four-year college degree increased by 213 percent at public schools and 129 percent at private schools between 1988 and 2018, according to College Board’s “Trends in College Pricing 2017” report. Meanwhile, wages mostly remained the same, and unemployment rates among college graduates have risen from 4.3 percent in 2000 to 5.6 percent in 2017. Meanwhile, there is $1.5 trillion in student debt outstanding as of 2018, according to the Federal Reserve. And four in 10 adults under the age of 30 years old have student-loan debt, according to the Pew Research Center. So trade school seems like an ideal alternative, doesn't it?
The pros of vocational training are not limited to but include the following:
Some of the cons that accompany vocational training include the following:
There will be tons of jobs available to you following your vocational training, depending upon the type of training that you receive. Here some options:
These are just a few of the many jobs you can pursue following your vocational training. Whatever you decide to do, you'll have the skills from hands-on, real-world experience to do it well.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.