Vocational School: What Is It?

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Vocational School: What Is It?

Vocational schools are a perfect option for those who don’t want to spend 4 years getting their higher education as you can complete your training just in 2 years.

There is even an opportunity to obtain your education online.

Before learning about all the significant points of vocational schools, we offer to start with a question: What is a vocational school?

Article Table of Contents

What is Vocational School?

A vocational school – it is an educational institution that offers students training programs oriented on specific occupations.

Also, these institutions can be called as technical, trade or career schools.

In fact, this training option is a great opportunity for numerous students and it has lots of advantages.

Faster Completion Times

Applying for a training program at a vocational school, you can start your career fast as most programs can be completed in 2-24 months.

No General Courses

All programs are oriented on obtaining a certain set of skills required for your future job.

Usually, there are a few or even no extra disciplines.

Smaller Classes

Usually, vocational schools have rather small classes.

As a result, instructors can offer some better learning opportunities and enough hands-on training for each student.

It means that it is more accessible to students.

Lower Tuitions

As you understand, the price of your training may vary depending on various aspects such as the type of program and location.

However, it will be significantly less than the price of a similar training program offered at a traditional college.

Highly Specialized Training

Applying for a training program at a vocational school, you are going to get a specific set of skills required for your future career.

Most of the practical classes are held in settings that are similar to your future working environment.

As a result, after completing your training, you just need only a little on-the-job training.

Speaking of the disadvantages of a vocational school, the only point is that it can somehow limit your career options.

Considering the fact that most vocational schools’ programs are highly specialized, there are not so many opportunities to explore alternative career options.

Nevertheless, it is a great opportunity to enter a certain career field without spending lots of time and money.

Education, Vocational School, Training Options

Getting Required Training from the Comfort of Home

Working on a full-time basis or having some other responsibilities, you may have a bunch of problems combining it with your education.

Of course, you can apply for night or weekend classes but online training program can be an even better option.

You just need to log-in to your course and complete tasks staying at the comfort of your home and doing it at a convenient time.

In any case, it is a great option for anyone who needs to combine their studies with some other activities.

There is a whole bunch of educational institutions that provide online training programs.

Just make sure to learn about all the available options.

How Much It Takes to Complete Vocational School Program?

Vocational schools provide lots of training options that may vary in their length significantly.

Program’s duration depends on your specialty of interest as well as school and level of training.

In the table below, you can get some examples of various programs’ duration.

Vocational ProgramHow long does it take to finish?
Small Engine Repair4 months
Paralegal8 months
Web Page Designer6 months
Dental Assistant4 months
Hotel / Restaurant Management4 months
Optician7 months
Occupational Therapy Aide1 month

After completing some of these programs, you can obtain a certificate or diploma while others lead to licensing exams in specific fields.

The Most Popular Programs Offered by Vocational Schools

When it comes to choosing the best training program, you need to think properly about your future career consider such aspects as job security and salary.

It gives you an opportunity to enter your career field where your skills will be in big demand for a long time and provide you with some career growth.

Among the most popular training programs, there are healthcare, business, and legal training courses.

One of the most known vocational schools is Penn Foster Career School where you can find a variety of training programs.

Below, there is a list of the most popular training programs offered in many vocational schools.

Medical, Dental, and Pharmacy

Medical Billing and Coding

Those working as Medical Billers and Coders are responsible for patients’ paper analysis.

They learn data such as diagnoses and treatment and transfer them into codes that should be recorded for insurance purposes.

In fact, these specialists can be considered as intermediaries between physicians and insurance companies.

The manage a whole bunch of important, confidential data.

Dental Assistant

Dental Assistants support dentists preparing instruments, helping during various procedures, informing clients about dental care issues, and taking impressions.

Also, they may be responsible for some administrative tasks such as schedule managing and records updating.

Pharmacy Technician

Pharmacy Technicians usually deal with patients in order to reveal their needs and concerns and tell them to the Pharmacists.

Also, they may be responsible for pharmaceutical inventory.

Physical Therapy

Physical Therapy Aide

Specialists such as Physical Therapy Aides are an essential part of the support team as they are responsible for setting up therapy rooms, washing linens, and helping patients.

Moreover, they may perform some clerical tasks.

Occupational Therapy Aide

An Occupational Aide supports patients during occupational therapy procedures.

They perform such duties as preparing equipment and room for patient appointments.

In some cases, they also can order supplies and schedule appointments.


Veterinary Assistant is responsible for feeding, weighing and taking the temperature of animals.

Also, these specialists may clean cages, provide medicines and take care of animals before and after some procedures.

Among the available employment options, there are veterinary clinics, animal hospitals, shelters and/or zoos.


Certified Personal Trainer

Working as a certified personal trainer, you need to evaluate your clients’ abilities and learn about their goals so you can create the most suitable training plan.

Also, personal trainers should be able to support their clients emotionally motivating and encouraging them.

Moreover, they explain clients various health and nutrition aspects.

Dog Obedience Trainer/Instructor

A Dog Obedience Trainer/Instructor works with dogs training them and teaching various commands.

These specialists may train house pets teaching them basic commands or training dogs so they can take part in shows or perform as therapy or aide dogs.

Electrical Technician

Computer Support Technician

Computer Support Technicians should have excellent knowledge of computer hardware, software, and related equipment and stay up-to-date as technologies develop constantly.

Also, they need to have some good understanding of the latest trends, threats, and viruses.

One other important requirement is great communication skills so they can help others deal with various problems.

Electronics Technician

Electronics Technicians are responsible for designing and installing various electrical equipment.

Nevertheless, in most cases, they deal with troubleshooting and repairing problems.

As an electronics technician, you are going to work with communication equipment, medical monitoring devices, navigational equipment, computers, etc.

PC Maintenance and Repair

PC Maintenance and Repair specialists should deal with various problems related to hardware, software, or network, and make sure that computers and systems work properly.

These specialists are required in large corporations as well as small businesses but also they can start their own repair business.

Residential Electrician

The list of duties of Residential Electricians includes points as plan, install, repair and upgrade electrical fixtures.

Also, they are responsible for the control of equipment used in residential homes.

They need to make sure that all the used electrical components are safe and meet the requirements.

Appliance Repair

Appliance repair specialists usually work in repair businesses or customer’s homes.

They are responsible for installing and repairing various electrical supplies such as washers, dryers, freezers, refrigerators, air conditioning units, TV sets and so on.

Basic Electronics

After completing a training program in Basic Electronics, you can perform such duties as design, troubleshooting, and repairing of a wide range of electronics and their components.

Usually, these specialists work with such equipment as lasers, fiber optics, robotics, and computer technology.



Plumbers are responsible for installation and repair of various systems such as water, drainage, sewage, and heating systems.

Usually, this career requires lots of odd hours as plumbers often need to deal with various emergency situations.

Home Inspector

Home Inspectors need to have a whole bunch of knowledge related to homes.

They inspect roofs, attics, walls, floors, ceilings, doors, windows, stairs, plumbing, foundation, electrical systems, basement or crawlspace to make sure everything is safe and function properly.

Also, they provide a piece of advice on home repair requirements.


Gunsmiths are responsible for the design, building, modifying or repairing of firearms.

To be able to work in this sphere, you need to have some good mechanical expertise as well as some level of craftsmanship.

Landscaping Technology

Landscape technologists usually take care of outdoor spaces such as parks, gardens, yards, greenhouses, and golf courses.

This career requires an excellent understanding of such aspects as horticulture and landscape design.

Also, they need to know how to use a whole variety of tools and equipment.

HVACR Technician

HVACR or HVAC technicians are responsible for the maintenance of heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems.

Also, they can install and repair these systems.

Software and Technology

Web Page Designer

Web Page Design career is a perfect option for anyone who’s interested in both technical and creative areas.

These specialists usually build, design, and redesign web pages in order to make them more appealing, user-friendly, and functional.

Microsoft® Office

Completing this training program, students got skills related to various Microsoft® software.

It may include such options as Excel®, Word™, PowerPoint® and so on.

Also, they learn how to integrate some applications.

Drafting with AutoCAD®

AutoCAD® Drafters perform such duties as dimensioning, plotting, and printing, digitized 3D drawing, geometric construction and tolerancing, and electronic schematic drafting.

Such specialists usually required in engineering firms, government agencies, automotive companies or dealerships, construction, landscaping, or patenting companies.


Wildlife/Forestry Conservation

Wildlife and Forestry Conservationists are perfect career options for anyone interested in resource preservation and passionate about animals.

These specialists are responsible for forests and natural habitats preservation.

They aim to protect animal species.

Small Engine Repair

These specialists perform such duties as maintenance and repairment of various small engines.

Usually, they deal with such items as chain saws, trimmers, snowblowers, leaf blowers, lawnmowers, go-carts, wood chippers, and snowmobiles.

Motorcycle Repair Technician

As you may guess:

Motorcycle repair technicians specialists’ duties list include maintenance and repair of motorcycles.

They also may work with such vehicles as all-terrain vehicles, motor scooters, mopeds, and dirt bikes.

Diesel Mechanics/Heavy Truck Maintenance

Diesel Mechanics have various duties such as diagnosis, inspection, and repair of various machines.

The list includes such mechanisms as brakes, steering, engines, electric components, transmissions, and other components of diesel vehicles.

They work with diesel automobiles, trucks, buses, tractor-trailers, or construction vehicles.



If you are looking for some versatile career in the construction sphere, carpentry can be one of the best options for you.

Usually, these specialists construct various buildings and structures such as skyscrapers, bridges, frameworks, as well as flooring in office buildings and moldings in private houses.

Furniture & Cabinet Maker

Furniture makers & designers have a certain set of skills that allow them to design and create some unique and beautiful cabinetry and furniture.

Usually, among their employment options, there are retail stores, manufacturers, repair shops, home improvement stores.

They also may start their business and open a woodworking shop.

Home Remodeling & Repair

After completing this training program, you can apply for such careers as a construction laborer, construction manager or carpenter.

Usually, these specialists have a variety of responsibilities including evaluation of interiors and exteriors, an inspection of building materials, drawing plans and establishment of contracts.

Creative and Design

Certified Wedding Planner

Wedding Planners help to organize a wedding and connect a bride and a groom with various vendors in this sphere.

They not only organize wedding but coordinate them as well.

Floral Design

Floral Designers are also known as Florists.

These specialists are responsible for various floral arranges made of live, dried, or silk flowers.

Usually, they work in floral shops, nurseries, markets or help wedding planners.

There are lots of florists who start their own business.

Dressmaking and Design

If you want to be a tailor, fashion or cloth designer, you need to apply for this program.

During your training, you’ll learn about fashion, patterns design, embroidery, clothing, and altering.

Jewelry Design and Repair

These specialists should be creative and need to have some skills required for creation, repair, and modification of jewelry.

They create bracelets, rings, earrings, and necklaces.

Also, they may appraise jewelry, precious metals, and various gems.


Caterers are responsible for the coordination of the delivery, preparation, and presentation of food.

Usually, these specialists are required at wedding receptions, rehearsal dinners, workplace meetings, family reunions, and other various parties and events.

Legal Studies

Legal Transcriptionist is a professional that make transcripts of audio recordings made at civil and criminal courts.

They use specific word processors to prepare written documentation based on recordings.

They need to have such skills as an understanding of legal terminology, ability to do investive legal research, handling sensitive, confidential information.

Interior Design

Interior decorators create unique space’s design using lighting, paint, fabric, and so on.

They need to be able to meet clients expectations and requirements as well as settled budget.

Business and Management

Travel and Tourism Specialist

These specialists help people organize their trips.

Usually, they use reservation systems for various issues, deal with transportation, and book hotel rooms.

Also, they need to know about the latest trends in the sphere and the best and most popular resorts.

Hotel and Restaurant Management

Hotel and restaurant managers are obliged to deal with various operations of hotels or restaurants.

They manage staff and facilities and make sure their customers are satisfied.

Also, they need to deal with financial and administrative records.


Bookkeepers are also known as bookkeeping clerks.

These specialists are responsible for managing some or all business or organization’s accounts.

They should be able to deal with such issues as payroll, revenue, expenses, assets and liabilities and so on.

Child Day Care

Child Care Providers are specialists that take care of children at homes or special centers.

After completing this training program, you can apply for such careers as Teacher’s Aides, Preschool Aides, In-Home Child Care Providers or Nannies, and others.

Vocational School vs On-the-Job Training: What Is the Difference?

Both vocational school programs and on-the-job training aim to provide with a certain set of skills required for your future career.

Nevertheless, these options have some significant differences:

  • It is your employer that provides and arranges your on-the-job training and you don’t need to pay for it. At the same time, when it comes to a vocational school – it is an educational institution that offers specific training programs at a certain price.
  • During on-the-job training, it is one of your co-workers that teach you but it doesn’t mean they are qualified enough. During your training at a vocational school, you are taught by experts that have all the necessary skills and knowledge.
  • On-the-job training can equip you with a certain set of skills you need to have to perform duties required by your employer. In some cases, these skills cannot be transferred to other future positions. At the same time, vocational schools offer some broader range of skills and knowledge in a specific field that can be useful for various employers.

In other words, vocational school is a better training option as it can provide you with a bunch of long-term benefits to you.

How Much Does Vocational School Cost?

The cost of a vocation school training varies significantly and depends on numerous aspects such as type of program, school, and so on.

For example, Penn Foster Career School offers various training programs on the average price of $49 per month.

If you decide to pay for the entire training including tuition, books, and materials at once, you can save about 20%.

For example, if you decide to pay in full, you can enroll in the Medical Transcriptionist program for $669, the Hotel and Restaurant Management program for $699, the Medical Billing and Coding program for $839, and the Paralegal program for $699.

Ashworth College offers training programs that cost about $49 per month.

There is also a discount available for students who want to pay for their training in full.

There, you can apply for the Dental Office Assistant program for $599, the Graphic Design program for $649, and the Online Tax Preparation program for $699.

Can Vocational Training Be Obtained Online?

Lots of colleges offer a whole variety of training programs in numerous fields.

Among the available options, there are:

  • Advanced Medical Coding;
  • Computer Services and Repair;
  • Criminal Law and Procedure;
  • Dental Office Assistant;
  • Diesel Mechanic;
  • Graphic Design;
  • Home Health Aide;
  • Interior Decorating;
  • Landscape Design;
  • Medical Billing;
  • Medical Transcription;
  • Paralegal;
  • Personal Trainer;
  • Pharmacy Technician;
  • Real Estate Law;
  • Retail Management;
  • Small Business Management;
  • Tax Preparation;
  • Teacher Assisting;
  • Travel Agent;
  • Veterinary Assisting;
  • Wedding Planner.

It is a great opportunity if you want to obtain some higher education while combining it with job/family duties.

Just keep in mind that there are some online programs that require additional hands-on training.

You’ll be obliged to enroll in some internship at a campus or a workplace.

Vocational College vs Trade School

Vocational college and trade school can be considered as the same thing as both of them offer training programs that include some hands-on training on a specific sphere.

In fact, there are lots of terms that are used to describe this type of higher education institutions:

  • trade schools;
  • vocational schools;
  • vocational colleges;
  • technical schools;
  • vocational trade schools;
  • adult vocational schools;
  • vocational training programs;
  • career schools.

Is There Something Common Between Vocational, Trade, and Career Schools?

As we’ve already mentioned, it doesn’t matter how it is called, vocational, trade, and career schools are the same thing.

It is similar to such terms as “college”, “university” or “higher education” that have almost the same meaning and can be considered as interchangeable.

Selective Skills

If you have some certain skills such as fixing motorcycling or cooking, vocational school training is a perfect option for you.

It is a great training option for anyone who is interested in repair, construction, and even some creative careers.

Vocational schools can offer you training programs in various fields.

If you know what you want to do in your future but don’t know where to get the required skills, a vocational school is exactely what you need.

It is a perfect option for those who want to obtain their degree as fast as possible.

Most offered programs are hands-on oriented and offered in the fields that are in great demand.

Vocational School vs. College Degree: What’s the Difference?

When it comes to differences between vocational schools and colleges there 5 main aspects that should be considered: duration, price, focus, career opportunities and earning potential.


In a traditional college or university, you need 4 years to complete your training and obtain a bachelor’s degree.

When it comes to vocation schools, you can complete your training just in 2 years or even less.

In other words, you can start working and earning money much faster if you decide to apply for a vocational school program.


The Idaho Department of Labor claims that you need to pay about $127 000 for your bachelor’s degree in college.

Speaking of vocational schools, you need to pay about $33 000 for your training.

The difference is great (about $94 000).


Being a traditional college student, you need to complete not only your majors but also some general disciplines to complete your training.

Vocational school programs don’t contain any general courses and each discipline is related to your future career.

In other words, if your major is electronics, you aren’t going to have British Literature classes.

Career Opportunities

Obtaining a college degree, you can apply for a variety of careers.

For example, after completing a Communication program, you can work as a journalist, marketing specialist, human relations specialists, event planner, administrator and so on.

At the same time, vocational school programs aim to prepare students for certain lines of work.

Earning Potential

People tend to think that after completing a vocational school, they’ll earn less than they can earn after obtaining a degree at a college.

Nevertheless, it is not always true.

In the table below, you can get info about career training options you can get a vocational school and how much you can earn after completing your training.

OccupationMedian Salary
Dental Hygienist$74,070 per year
Paralegal / Legal Secretary$50,410 per year
Private Detective / Investigator$50,700 per year
Heating, air Conditioning and Refrigeration Mechanic / Installer$47,080 per year
Electrician$67,990 per year
Web Developer$54,110 per year

As you can see, colleges and vocational schools differ significantly but each of these options has its own advantages.

If you want to get more focused education for less price, vocational school is a perfect option for especially considering the fact you can complete it faster.

Vocational School Coursework

Education, Vocational School, Training Options

As we’ve already mentioned, applying for a college degree program you’ll be obliged to complete a whole bunch of subjects.

At the same time, vocational school offer programs that highly specialized.

In fact, these programs aim to provide you with enough hands-on training.

It means that you won’t just be reading books but you’ll have lots of practice.

Depending on your major, you are going to obtain a certain set of practical skills.

For example, you learn not only how to read schematics and blueprints but also how they can be applied in real life.

Those who want to become a chef will learn about various products and their specifics as well as how to cook various dishes.

Trade School vs. Vocational School: What’s the Difference?

There is no difference between a vocational school and a trade school.

These educational facilities offer short and well-focused training programs that aim to prepare students for a specific career.

Each discipline included in the training program is 100% relevant to your future career and provide the skills you’ll be using during your work.

It is a perfect option for those people who want to save money and start working ASAP.

What Is a Trade School?

A trade school – it is an educational facility that provides various training programs that aim to equip students with the skills they need for their future occupation.

Trade schools are also called vocational schools, career schools or technical schools.

As we’ve mentioned before, all the provided programs are career-focused and don’t contain various general subjects.

Instead, you going to have lots of practice to polish your professional skills.

Vocational school programs are usually twice shorter and cheaper than programs offered by colleges and universities.

It is a great option if you know what career you want to apply for in the future.

Top 15 Most Popular, Best Paying Trade School Careers

  • Computer Network Architect;
  • Applications Software Developer;
  • Electronics Engineer;
  • Construction Manager;
  • Computer Programmer;
  • Welder;
  • Auto Body Repairman;
  • Carpenter;
  • Heavy Equipment Operator;
  • Plumber;
  • Electrician;
  • Home Inspector;
  • Dental Hygienist;
  • Web Developer;
  • HVAC Technician.

As you understand, it is only some samples as there are hundreds of different options offered by vocational schools

Top 15 Most Popular Vocational Certificates

CertificationMedian Pay
Bookkeeper, Accountant or Auditing Clerk$39,240
Paralegal or Legal Assistant$50,410
Food Service Manager$52,030
Medical Assistant$32,480
Medical Transcriptionist$35,250
Dental Hygienist$74,070
Heating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installer$47,080
Web Developer$67,990
Lodging Manager$51,800
Private Detective or Investigator$50,700
Plumber, Pipefitter and Steamfitter$52,590
Computer Support Specialist$52,810
Electrical or Electronics Engineering Technicians$63,660

Tools of the Trade

After completing a vocational school program, you have not only a degree and some knowledge but also a set of tools of the trade.

During your training, you need to have some professional tools so mechanic program students will have some name-brand tools and Culinary students will have a set of excellent knives and other tools.

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