Vocational school is one option for students interested in practical postsecondary education and job training. Vocational schools typically offer relatively short, career-focused programs that quickly prepare graduates for the workforce.
Vocational schools, sometimes referred to as trade schools or career schools, provide practical training with few unrelated academic course requirements. They are relevant for many kinds of learners, including:
Individuals who are planning to enter industry for the first time
Adults who are looking to reenter the workforce
Professionals who wish to pursue a new career field
The education offered at vocational schools allows adults to focus on the skills to enter a particular industry, with the option of not taking unrelated general education courses required for an associate's degree at a community college. Vocational schools also provide technology training or retraining for workers in their current occupations.
Vocational schools can offer programs ranging from short-unit classes of ten weeks or less to long-term programs of up to two years in length. Some states offer public vocational schools and career training programs through community colleges, but the majority of vocational schools are private institutions. Vocational school credits don't typically transfer to academic undergraduate programs like an Associate of Arts program, but they may award students with a certificate credential.
Vocational schools generally focus on programs in career fields that can be completed in two years or less. Vocational schools focusing on a single field, such as automotive trades or health services, may offer only one training program or give students a choice of several programs in the same industry, such as hair stylist, barber, nail technician or esthetician programs at a cosmetology school. Other vocational schools offer programs in several unrelated fields, like agriculture, office skills and technical training. The following are some common types of vocational school programs:
Electrical installation and maintenance
Motorcycle and automotive repair
Hotel and restaurant management