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What is a Vocational School?

Diana Bocco
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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Traditionally, a vocational school, also known as technical education, offered training in careers that require practical expertise. This includes specific trades such as welding, blacksmithing, or mechanics, or more general education geared to the retail or beauty industry. Now, however, more and more of these types of schools are now offering courses to cover information technology and the tourism industry. Other careers that are typical at a vocational school include plumbing, electricity, carpentry, professional locksmithing, floral designer, and motorcycle repair technician. Other careers, which may not be so obvious, include medical transcription and medical insurance clerk, home inspection, professional bridal consultant, veterinary assistant, and hotel/restaurant management.

In the United States, a vocational school is usually post-secondary, with classes being offered through community colleges or institutes of technology. In recent years, it has become standard for these types of schools to offer online certifications, especially in areas where practical experience is not essential. Many vocational schools are private. Although this is not typical, attending a vocational institute can sometimes take the place of a traditional high school education. Courses such as wood and metal shop and home economics are a good example of vocational courses that are sometimes taught in traditional high schools. Other schools, however, may focus more on this type of courses and less in traditional subjects.

A vocational school is sometimes the best way for an adult to reenter the labor market. Adult education programs, such as the Work Incentive Program (WIN) and the Job Corps, are in place for unemployed adults that are currently in welfare and in need of an educational push before they can go out and find a new job. The U.S. Department of Education also provides financial aid for adults wishing to attend a vocational institute.

Whatever your reason for considering a vocational school, always investigate all options before making a final choice. If you are interested in qualifications and quality of classes, a community college is a great option, but if you prefer a small class size and more hands-on experience, a private vocational school may be a better choice.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Diana Bocco
By Diana Bocco , Former Writer
Diana Bocco, a versatile writer with a distinct voice, creates compelling long-form and short-form content for various businesses. With a data-focused approach and a talent for sharing engaging stories, Diana’s written work gets noticed and drives results.

Discussion Comments

By anon117381 — On Oct 10, 2010

i have got an NVQ 2 and 3 in england. is this the same as a vocational school?

By suntan12 — On Aug 01, 2010

Mutsy- I just wanted to add that DeVry is an online vocational school that also offers up to 23 different campus locations.

It boasts that more than 90% of the graduates obtain a job within six months of having graduated. Also about 85% of students attending DeVry receive financial aid. This is another vocational tech school worth pursing.

By mutsy — On Aug 01, 2010

Greenweaver- I agree that many vocational technical vocational schools offer a variety of career training options for those looking to change careers or for someone that wants pratical hands on experience to begin working immediately upon graduation.

There is a joint vocational school in South Florida called Robert Morgan that offers high school students the opportunity to take vocational school classes while still enrolled in high school.

They usually take regular academic courses in the morning and then go to the vocational program after lunch. This is usually done starting their junior year in high school and continues until they graduate.

Most students that complete the program earn a high school diploma along with a vocational trade school certificate. Many of the vocational school courses involve cosmetology, auto repair and air conditioning repair.

By GreenWeaver — On Aug 01, 2010

Anon14925- I don’t know the answer, but if you contact the school directly they might be able to offer you some information.

Many schools offer financial aid packages and some even provide work study programs where you can work at the school and the proceeds from your job go to pay your tuition.

I just wanted to say that many vocational trade schools programs provide training in lucrative and in demand careers such as paralegal, dental and nursing assistants. Often they also provide job placement assistance upon graduation.

By anon14925 — On Jun 27, 2008

What does the lvn school need from international students, such as tofle or something like that? How much should international student pay per year at lvn program?

Diana Bocco

Diana Bocco

Former Writer

Diana Bocco, a versatile writer with a distinct voice, creates compelling long-form and short-form content for various...
Learn more
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