Overview of Vocational Schools
Vocational schools, sometimes referred to as trade schools or career schools, provide practical training with few unrelated academic course requirements. 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
- Floral design
- Medical transcription
- Hotel and restaurant management
Combined High School Programs
A high school diploma is often required for vocational school admission, but some vocational schools combine career education credits with a high school education for high school juniors and seniors pursuing vocational education. Vocational school training can allow aspiring high school graduates to quickly enter the workforce with hands-on training and a career-focused curriculum.
Adults looking to reenter the workforce or pursue a new career field also attend vocational schools. 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.