With enrollment up by an average of 20% at vocational schools in California over the past two years, many people are obviously deciding that vocational education is a good option for them. But is it a good option for you? Making this decision requires weighing the pros and cons of using trade school programs as the vehicle to reach your ultimate career goal.
In this article, we’ll discuss some of the advantages and disadvantages of trade schools, as well as how effective a vocational degree or certificate is at gaining you entry into certain professions.
What are the Advantages of Vocational Schools?
There have been numerous studies over the past decade on the success of trade school graduates in the workforce as compared to their traditionally-educated and trained peers. Almost without fail, research has shown that vocationally trained workers earn more, earlier in their chosen careers than four-year college graduates in the same field, and match them in earnings and advancement years later. While these findings do vary somewhat based upon the profession in question, the general conclusion remains the same – vocational school degrees and certifications definitely give those who earn them a leg up on the competition.
The following is a brief review of the most-significant advantages that vocational training can offer as compared to a traditional four-year school.
Focus on Skills Instead of Academics
If you are the type of person who never enjoyed sitting through lectures and memorizing academic material, but excelled at learning how to “do” things, you are probably a good candidate for vocational education. In vocational training classes, you spend your time actually gaining hands-on experience using the skills that will eventually be required in your career – not reading about how to do things in a book.
Start Your Career Sooner
Vocational school programs are generally two years or less in duration, meaning that you will be out working in your career and earning a good salary in less than half the time it would take if you attended a traditional university.
Assistance with Job Placement
As soon as their students graduate, virtually all trade schools make a concerted effort to immediately place them in jobs. While you will read a lot of debate over the actual success of vocational colleges in placing their students as compared to their advertised rates (most California vocational schools, for instance, claim success rates approaching 90%), a U.S. Department of Education released a telling study on the subject in 2006.
According to its report, the department found that 97% of vocational school students were employed within six months of graduation, and an impressive 80% of them were working in the field they had studied. This success rate was not only a strong endorsement for vocational education in general, but showed that it was more effective at placing graduates in relevant jobs than were four-year colleges.
Lower Academic Admission Standards
For those people who either struggled academically in high school, or who never graduated at all, gaining admission to a vocational school is far easier than a conventional university. While most accredited schools do require applicants to have a high school degree, some will accept related work experience, letters of recommendations from employers and the like instead.
So, Is Vocational Education for You?
The aforementioned advantages and disadvantages of vocational education are just some of the factors that you should consider before committing to a trade school. Equally important is researching your personal career goal, and finding out if earning a trade school degree or certificate is viewed as a viable way of gaining entry. What you will find is that employers in some fields favor hiring graduates with vocational degrees, while others prefer university students or people who have worked their way up as an apprentice.
Ultimately, California vocational schools can certainly prepare you for an exciting, successful career in a wide variety of fields. That said, deciding if enrolling in a vocational program is your best strategy for reaching your goals requires a clear view of where you’re trying to go, and what it will take to get there.
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