What Are Vocational Courses and Programs?

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If you’re a graduating high school student or a high school or college graduate who wants to seek further certification for a specific skill, you might want to consider taking a vocational course or class. These vocational courses and classes are available in various career fields, such as – but not limited to – medicine, IT, office management and other skilled trades.

Unlike college students who earn bachelor’s degrees, vocational students earn associate degrees. Most vocational courses cost less than the tuition of a college degree and can be earned in less time. Vocational courses are offered in career colleges, vocational schools, trade schools, community colleges, and other programs and institutions accredited to offer vocational programs.

Because most of these courses take less time than a college degree, you can enter the workforce earlier than a college graduate. The skills you earn and the certification you carry gives you a significant advantage in the job market.

If you think this is the right education choice for you, read on to find out more.


What Are Vocational Courses?

Vocational training courses or classes train students for a particular job or career. Its scope expands to many fields and industries and is also available for college graduates who want to get further education that will improve their prospects in the job market.

Vocational schools, as mentioned earlier, can be offered in several institutions. Some are privately run, though most government-funded schools may be more affordable. The price ultimately depends on what the course is, but its high price may not necessarily equate to a high-paying career. However, it is possible for associate degree holders and certificate holders to earn as much as a college graduate.


What Can I Study?

Vocational education extends to various fields. You can go into healthcare as a caregiver, into law as a paralegal, into the hospitality industry as a food prep, or into the beauty industry as a cosmetologist. Nearly all industries have a possible vocational course.

There’s also skilled trade, which involves a bit of technical knowledge such as heating and air conditioning, plumbing, electrical systems, and more. It won’t be as comprehensive as a college graduate’s knowledge, but it would be enough to perform well in a slightly less technical job than the college graduate’s counterpart.

If you already have a college degree, there’s also the option to take a vocational course to improve on what you know. For example, if you have a degree in nursing, you can take a certification course to become a qualified legal nurse consultant. This will allow you to, on top of your skills as a nurse, provide qualified medical advice in law cases.


Completing a Program

Vocational students who complete programs earn industry skills certificates. Whether it’s for credit or noncredit or associate degrees, students are either awarded associatedegrees such as Associate of Arts, Associate of Science, and the Associate of Applied Science. These credentials may vary depending on the field of study and the institution offering it. These are for students whose vocational course falls within a formal education path.


Vocational Schools

Many high schools offer its students basic vocational education after graduation. These can include home economicsand auto repair. Vocational schools vary by state, but most programs are offered by private career schools. Other institutions offering courses include community colleges, state-owned institutions, and government-operated education centers. Some government-run centers offer free education to qualified students.


How Much Can I Make with a Vocational Degree?

Many vocational courses are in very high demand in the job market and provide a huge advantage over high school and college graduates who do not have the specialized knowledge for a certain job that others learned through their courses.

Although there are many courses on the market, some of them are more popular than others. Their costs and expected average salary vary. Here, for example, are the top high-paying courses.


CNC Manufacturer

Estimated tuition: $6,000

Average salary: $54,200


Home Inspector

Estimated tuition: $549

Average salary: $57,340


Aviation Mechanic

Estimated tuition: $10,318

Average salary: $58,390



Estimated tuition: None, since the only place you can learn this in the United States, the Boilermakers National Apprenticeship Program, is not a school, but an apprenticeship. You learn through working.

Average Salary: $60,120


Conservation Sciences

Estimated tuition: $689

Average salary: $60,220


Electronic Engineering

Estimated tuition: $980

Average salary: $61,130


Garden and Landscaping Designer

Estimated tuition: $699

Average salary: $63,810


Solar Energy Technology

Estimated tuition: $595

Average salary: $67,000


Energy Management

Estimated tuition: $1,150

Average salary: $74,000


Construction Manager

Estimated tuition: $789

Average salary: $87,400


Attending Vocational School

High schools in the ‘90s offered vocational courses as electives, and students couldopt for a vocational school rather than study in a traditional high school. However, there was a decline of vocational school attendance with more parents opting to send their children to study academics in high school.

As a result, attending a vocational school had a negative light. People see this as a school for either the less fortunate who cannot afford college and are studying for low-paying blue-collared jobs, or for people who were not accepted into college because they weren’t intelligent enough for it. However, this is a common misconception vocational schools are trying to remove. It’s a completely acceptable alternative to the traditional college path and can lead to a lucrative career.

And people who choose to skip vocational school because they see it as a certification beneath them are missing out on a lot. There are millions of Americans who need jobs, but employers need millions of skilled workers. Because there are few people being trained in vocational courses, they have a high demand in the market, if they know where to look and how to market themselves to prospective employers. It’s a viable option, one that won’t put you thousands of dollars in debt from student loans.


Benefits of Vocational Programs

Vocational programs are a productive alternative. It is an excellent option for students as well as graduates looking for a competitive edge on the job market. Technical school provides students with vital skills in a fast and affordable way. Skilled trades such as construction and health care have been growing steadily for nearly 20 years, which means more secure jobs at affordable rates in schools available in all states.


If you’re about to graduate high school and aren’t interested in four years of college education but want to study for a specific career for a job market advantage, consider taking a vocational course. There’s nothing wrong with pursuing quality and affordable education, especially for jobs that are currently in high demand.

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