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What is Vocational Guidance?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A vocation is a career or calling and the word is derived from the Latin vocare, which means "to call." Vocational guidance means helping someone find his or her calling or at least a suitable career choice. Vocations or careers can be loosely categorized into areas such as service, technical, mechanical, creative, health and business.

Vocational training rather than vocational guidance is available at career colleges and this is usually for entry-level careers. For example, a career college with a health vocational curriculum may offer education and training programs for nurse’s aide and medical assistant careers, while business-oriented vocational schools may have marketing assistant and bookkeeping program offerings. A career college or vocational school differs from regular colleges and universities as the focus isn't on academics, but rather on training students for a specific career. Vocational or career colleges are also sometimes referred to as community colleges or trade schools.

Vocational guidance is often started in high school although some high schools also have vocational training programs. Vocational exploration courses offer students the opportunity to research different career possibilities as well as learn which vocational areas they have aptitude or talent in. For instance, many vocational guidance classes give tests to the students that test their ability with numbers, words, mechanical concepts and many more subjects. Tests designed to measure an individual’s personality traits, intelligence quotient (IQ) as well as his or her main values and interests are administered and analyzed by career counselors.

Once career counselors and the students have looked over the test results, career options can be chosen that fit best with each individual. Vocational guidance doesn't stop there as many other considerations must be made when deciding on a career direction. The type and number of years of education must be considered. Salary and working conditions are other important considerations in career selection. The likely demand for the occupation in the next decade or more is a crucial element when choosing a vocation since this affects the likelihood of finding jobs in a certain career field.

Vocational guidance isn't just for high school students. Rather it's for anyone either starting a career or changing careers. Some people may have several different careers in their life, while others may stay in the same field during all their working years.

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Discussion Comments

By Numberwand — On Apr 03, 2011

@Bhutan - I don't think I made myself clear: plumbing is extremely lucrative at the present time because there is a shortage of plumbers. This has largely been blamed on schools in the past twenty years freezing out valuable vocational skills. I agree totally with your statement and we're seeing the academic system shifting back in the direction of practical qualifications, especially in these tough times.

By latte31 — On Apr 03, 2011

@Sunny27 - I have to say that you made a good point. I was one of these people dead set on going to college and although I am glad that I have a degree, I always find myself looking a vocational careers because when I reenter the workforce, I may consider something like this when my kids go to college.

I think that it is always a good idea to keep an open mind because you never know what other vocational careers may suit you. It is also important to look at job postings in newspaper and online sites to see what areas are in most demand.

By Sunny27 — On Apr 03, 2011

@Bhutan - I agree with you and I was surprised to learn how much some of these vocational occupations pay. For example, when I reviewed career information regarding a dental hygienist position I was shocked to learn how much demand there was for people in this field as well as the potential earnings.

The average salary for a dental hygienist is $63,000. So when you look at career information consider the job prospects and earning potential and you might find a new career that is actually a better fit than what you originally considered.

Many schools will offer vocational guidance services and even if you are dead set on going to college you should still take a look at this vocational guidance and counseling in case your original plans do not work out at least you will have a backup plan.

By Bhutan — On Apr 03, 2011

@Numberwand-I don’t think so. I think that the plumbing profession is a worthy one and it can pay very well. I think that it is important to prepare students for the future and learning a field like plumbing is important for someone that prefers to work with his hands and does not want to seek an academic career.

The average salary for a plumber is $50,000 a year so it is definitely a good wage. Sometimes choosing a career requires you to consider your real talents and the type of money that you will earn because you may love a particular field but if it does not pay a living wage you will grow to resent it and will be forced to do something else.

Choosing a career that you will enjoy that pays well is important because the last thing that you want to be saddled with is a bunch of student loans that you can‘t pay back because you do not make enough money.

So getting as much career information as possible is important so it can set you on the right path and you don't waste time on a career choice that will not work for you in the end.

By Numberwand — On Apr 03, 2011

In many situations in high schools now, students with vocational skills are nurtured more than perhaps twenty years ago when professions like plumbing or carpentry were seen as working-class and without the need for formal qualifications. Does this mean that in economically bleaker times we will see more vocational guidance being offered to students and between-work adults, regardless of prior profession?

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