Is Vocational School Right For You?

In today's high-pressure economy, many people feel pressured to spend tens of thousands of dollars pursuing four-year college degrees even though many high-paying jobs don't require more than two years of education. Vocational schools allow people to train for careers in various fields at a fraction of the cost of traditional colleges and universities. In addition, the time required to graduate from vocational school programs is significantly shorter - anywhere from a single term to two years, depending on the field. Although a bachelor's degree remains the gold standard of higher education, understanding the benefits of attending vocational school can help people make the right decisions about how to best pursue their career goals.

So which fields can people study in vocational school? Some of the more popular programs offered through vocational schools include training for nursing assistants, medical transcription workers, auto mechanics, hair stylists, clinical trial workers, farming, construction workers, electricians and criminal justice staff. Numerous clerical and technician jobs can also be landed with a certification from vocational school programs.

For many people, technical school offers a break from the classic rigors of academic life, a life they maybe did not thrive in while in high school. Many are hands-on learners who prefer learning by building a car or taking a pulse, not by spending most of their time writing papers and debating in classrooms.

In 2014, President Obama proposed an idea granting free college tuition for those attending two year community schools. This proposal, if it comes to fruition, would make vocational schools even more attractive. Most vocational and community schools operate at much lower costs than four-year universities, and many four-year schools suggest that students take care of their general education requirements before transferring to the schools to complete their degree. This can save thousands of dollars in tuition costs and also grants a two-year student a degree in case life gets in the way of the four year program they are following.

So, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you like working with your hands?
  • Do you prefer smaller groups of students to large lecture environments?
  • Are you interested in administrative or labor work?
  • Are you interested in potentially transferring to a four year school?
  • Is flexibility in your schedule a priority?
  • Are you a returning/non-traditional student?

If the answer to any of these questions was "Yes" then perhaps a technical degree is for you.

There are typically two options to pursue. For-profit schools such as Strayer offer fast-tracked options, often for those interested in health care work. More traditional schools, such as local community colleges, are also a track to follow. Those schools, while often not offering fast-track options, to work with universities to make sure that general education credits are fully transferable.

The truth is, higher education is for everyone, but as a culture we have defined that higher education to only mean the long, echoing halls of academia. If hands on work and changing up the Socratic system is for you, then so are technical schools.

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