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.