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Vocational Skills: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:00 What Are Vocational Skills?
  • 0:43 Vocational vs. Other Schools
  • 1:27 Advantages of…
  • 2:01 Examples of Vocational Skills
  • 4:30 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sudha Aravindan

Sudha is currently an Information Technology Specialist and a EdD student at the University of Delaware.

Vocational skills are skills you gain toward becoming knowledgeable in a specific trade or profession. In this lesson, you will learn more about vocational skills.

What Are Vocational Skills?

Mary has been laid off from her job as a bank clerk, and her counselor Jake has told her that one option she has is to gain vocational skills. Vocational skills, Jake explains, are practical or firsthand skills that help a person master a trade or a job. Often, vocational skills can be obtained through hands-on experience on the job. However, these skills may also be obtained at a vocational school. A vocational school, also called a trade school, provides technical education to prepare people for work in a trade, craft, or profession.

Vocational vs. Other Schools

But what is the difference between a vocational school and a traditional college? Well, vocational schools are less expensive compared to traditional colleges, offer focused practical training in one specific area of interest, and offer shorter programs that usually culminate in diplomas or certificates. Keep in mind that even though vocational training is career-oriented, some jobs require a college degree or higher education. For example, you cannot be trained for a career as a doctor at a vocational school. Fortunately, Mary doesn't want to be a doctor, but she still wants to know more about vocational skills before making a career decision.

Advantages of Vocational Skills

So, let's explore with Mary the benefits of vocational training. One big perk of vocational training is that it can help Mary obtain a job faster, because vocational workers are generally in high demand. These programs often take relatively little time to complete and are often relatively inexpensive in the larger scope of education. Also, since vocational schools tailor the programs to match what employers are looking for, the rate of job placement after graduation is generally high.

Examples of Vocational Skills

Mary is sold on the idea of a vocational career, but now she needs to explore her options. Jobs that require vocational skills range from the traditional blue collar jobs in which highly skilled personnel work with their hands, to white collar jobs in which formally trained professionals work in an office setting. Let's look at a small sample of the types of vocational careers Mary might pursue.

One job title Mary has always been interested in is hairdresser. Mary could go to a hair design school where she can learn to cut, color, and style hair, and she will learn about sterilization and safety. Mary knows that hairdressers are always in demand, and training from a state-licensed cosmetology program is the first step toward a career as a hairdresser.

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