Vocational education delivers practical, hands-on skills for students to use on the job during their program and immediately after graduation. The process is also known as Career and Technical Education (CTE).
There are a wide variety of industries and career options available through vocational education schools and programs. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, the most popular career fields include the health sciences, trades (manufacturing, construction, repair, and transportation), and consumer services.
The benefits of vocational education fall into three main categories: strong job market and career growth, varied vocational school options, and investment value. Keep reading to learn more.
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Strong Job Market and Career Growth
At one time, vocational education was considered a less prestigious alternative for high school students not attending college. In recent decades, however, the prestige and strengths of vocational programs have grown, proven through strong rates of employment and higher wages.
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Today, prospective students can look to vocational education programs to gain practical experience and acquire the skills needed for jobs across in-demand fields.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, many of the fastest-growing occupations are in fields served by vocational education.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also helped demonstrate a need for skilled workers in fundamental infrastructure and service positions, including healthcare, electrical, construction, and automotive repair. Demand continues to rise as employers struggle to fill positions across the technical, healthcare, and manufacturing industries.
Well-trained, experienced employees in such industries are critical for the country’s economic growth. Vocational programs are the best way to introduce them to the workforce.
Attractive to Employers
Employers highly value the advanced, practical training and confidence that vocational graduates bring to a position from the first day on the job.
Employers can be confident in their new employees’ technical and soft skills when hiring vocational graduates, simplifying the onboarding and training process. Often, graduates will have already obtained professional licenses and certificates. They also possess previous hands-on work experience in the industry. That kind of background helps decrease the learning curve and increases job satisfaction.
Varied Vocational Training Options
A vocational school may be public or private, non-profit or for-profit. Each boasts a unique blend of offerings; some are focused on specific industries while others offer several options for various career interests. Read on for more information on how to find a quality program.
Accredited vocational schools demonstrate a commitment to meeting quality standards through an independent accreditation process. The ACCET (Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training) is the leading national accrediting body for vocational schools.
Vocational programs may obtain additional approvals and certifications to assure their commitment to quality. For example, ICOHS College is accredited by ACCET and approved by the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, and the California Bureau for Private Post-Secondary Education (BPPE).
In addition, specific professional programs within a vocational school may have additional certifications, such as the American Massage Therapy Association certification or the Cisco Certification for IT specializations.
Accreditation, approvals, and certifications are not just stamps on paper. They assure the community of a vocational school’s commitment to quality, improvement, and peer accountability. They may also open opportunities for professional licensing or additional funding sources.
Most vocational programs offer flexible full-time, part-time, or online schedules, allowing students to work around their other work or family needs.
Teenagers can get started in vocational training in over 80% of U.S. high schools. At the same time, independent post-graduate institutes cater to the needs of nontraditional students and adult learners at any point in their careers. Students will find diversity in the ages and backgrounds of their vocational education peers.
In vocational education programs, you will learn from experienced practitioners who serve as mentors and trainers. Class sizes are often small, allowing each student direct supervision and guidance.
Your instructors are industry professionals, prepared not only to train you in specific techniques and skills but guide you to overall success in their particular field. Since they are active members of the industry, they are also well-placed to provide networking and internship opportunities.
At vocational school, learning is not only theoretical but immediately put into practice with authentic experiences.
Internships and Practicums
Vocational programs recognize hands-on training in a “real world” context is essential to helping students succeed. Vocational courses are typically delivered through traditional classroom learning and significant practical work in learning labs.
Quality programs build relationships with local companies and business leaders to offer internships and practicums, earn course credit, or provide paid opportunities. These opportunities help develop your skills further and provide employment history and references to round out a resume when applying for future positions.
Successful Job Placement
Career counseling and job placement is a large part of the mission of vocational schools. The school’s career services center may help with networking, posting available positions, resume writing, and interview skills to help you launch your career.
Students may find support through study groups, tutoring, and test-taking skills practice in industries with professional licensing exams. Some programs offer career support services not only at graduation but throughout your career.
Vocational education is an investment of both time and money towards your personal growth and to build your career.
According to a 2002 report by the U.S. Department of Education (“National Assessment of Vocational Education”), students who attend vocational programs benefit from higher employment levels, increased wages, and increased job satisfaction rates.
Most vocational education programs take less than two years to complete. Depending on the program requirements and flexible scheduling options, some training programs can be completed in as few as six to nine months.
Students who fully complete their program and any required certifications reap the greatest benefits in employability and wages, both short and long term.
Vocational school is more affordable than earning a traditional four-year college degree. Tuition for vocational education programs is often less than that of universities, and since the time commitment is shorter, this can result in significant cost savings.
Vocational schools work with their students to offer financial aid and guidance. Available funding options include federal grants and loans, private grants and scholarships, low-interest cash payment plans, and paid internship opportunities.
As one of only a few approved MyCAA schools, ICOHS proudly provides military spouses with hands-on learning for exciting careers across the information technology and wellness fields.
Through government partnerships, various financial assistance programs are available specifically for U.S. military service members, spouses, and veterans. There are also special programs to support vocational training for individuals with disabilities.
Is Vocational Education Right for You?
If you need specialized training for your chosen career path, vocational education is an option worth exploring. Flexible scheduling and funding options make vocational school more affordable and manageable than ever.
Quality vocational programs assure accreditation and the long-term support needed for industry licensing and job placement. Experienced instructors will guide you in hands-on practice and on-the-job skills training. Upon graduation, you will be ready to enter the job market as an attractive, competent, and experienced employee with marketable skills in a growth industry.
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