Vocational education, and the career opportunities it can provide in 2022

Vocational education illustration with two students and a teacher

Having the skills that young talent needs to excel in their professional endeavors plays a crucial role in securing employment and inspiring youngsters to pursue excellence. Individuals who do not possess the required skills will find it difficult to perform their new function successfully. Their confidence may wane, and they may begin to doubt their decisions. Similarly, companies hiring such employees feel frustrated as they believe they are wasting their time and money. Businesses view this as training new employees who do not have the necessary insight and practical understanding of their jobs.

These youngsters’ vocational education and training allow them to acquire practical experience applicable to their career goals before graduating. These specialized programs provide young people with the skills and expertise they need to enter right into their chosen fields of career. Besides students believing in their abilities, employers feel confident that they have made a great choice in their new recruitment and can count on their expertise and skills.

What is Vocational Education?

Compared to college or university, vocational education involves a different approach to learning. It is a training and education program that gives people the skills and knowledge to work in a particular occupation. The education system integrates this program with the demands of the industry. Therefore, it is in line with the requirements of the labor market.

Typically, academic courses have a theoretical bent and emphasize traditional subjects such as history, literature, and math. Vocational courses, on the other hand, emphasize hands-on learning. For example, they provide programming, plumbing, and film editing instruction.

A significant difference between academic and vocational education is that academic degrees include studying a wide range of subjects, such as calculus, which is essential in many engineering careers. However, vocational studies usually focus on specific skills, like how to cut hair or repair computers. Therefore, vocational learning will include classwork based on authentic workplace requirements. Additionally, VET (vocational education and training) will provide instruction based on the needs of the actual workplace.

Among the vocation education and training courses are:

  • Healthcare & Medical
  • Project Management
  • Business Administration
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Leadership and Management
  • Fitness
 CriterionVocational EducationAcademic Education
Length of studiesShort (2 to 3 years)Long (4 years and more, depending on the diploma)
TeachingMore practical, field experience required, professional experts among teachers, specific skills taughtMore theoretical, fewer relationships with industries, broader knowledge taught
Degree levelAssociate’s degree (possibility to continue further)Bachelor to PhD
CostCheaper due to length of studiesMore expensive due to length of studies
Salary perspectivesLow to moderateHigh
EligibilityStudents need to have practical abilities, such as an interest in writing, designing, etc.Any student with the right age is eligible for academic education. However, those who wish to pursue higher education must pass an exam in the appropriate stream and score well.
Classroom SettingA mix of classroom learning and practical work environmentStandard Classroom Setting
Homework, ExamsUsually does not require exams but may require some courseworkAssignments, coursework, tests, and exams are likely to involve
Suitable ForPerfect course for students who find practical training, mentorship, and some reading to be usefulSuitable for students who are interested in learning through discussion and reading
Employment OpportunitiesThe majority of opportunities are in technical fields such as Entrepreneurship, office administration, carpentry, automotive mechanic, and medical technician.In certain professions, such as medicine, teaching, and engineering, an academic degree is required. Also, some occupations require a higher education degree, but vocational training can boost employability as an add-on benefit.
The key differences between vocational and academic education

The Importance of Vocational Education

When advancing your business career, vocational education and training (VET) can be highly beneficial. Taking vocation education courses can improve your current skills, develop new ones, or prepare you for a new career. In addition, these courses will equip you with the skills and expertise you need to succeed in many sectors of the economy.

Many people are under the impression that vocational education is just about learning a practical trade. For example, they believe welding, craft courses, plumbing, and medical courses are vocational training options. However, vocational education plays a crucial role, particularly at the top of the corporate ladder. Several accredited vocational institutes offer diploma courses related to business administration, project management, childcare, and leadership.

Benefits of Vocational Education

There are numerous advantages of enrolling in a vocational education course after school or continuing it to proceed with your career.

Take a look at some of the benefits that VET provides.

Specialized Training

A significant benefit of vocational training is getting specialized training in your career field. The purpose of career colleges is to address the need to learn specific skills that are practical in the workplace. When you graduate from college, you are an expert in your field with extensive industry experience.

Gain Practical Experience

Vocational training has many advantages, and one of them is that instructors are usually professionals who are knowledgeable about the field. Therefore, it is essential to have a hands-on approach by learning from someone who has experience in the industry. Furthermore, it will provide you with a better understanding of what it takes to succeed. In addition, many programs offer externships through which you can gain experience in the industry for course credit. This practical experience can allow you to receive an intern position or even a job position. 

Opportunities for Better Jobs

The presence of vocational training by prospective job applicants is viewed positively by many employers. Therefore, having a VET diploma or certificate from a professional college increases your prospects while looking for employment.

Vocational training increases your job prospects because you already have the required experience in the field. According to numerous studies, businesses must retrain university graduates to remain competitive in the job market. Usually, workers who have obtained vocational training already possess the skills to enter the job market.

Get into the Work Quickly

Vocational education and training (VET) can be completed quickly, which is one of the exciting advantages of the program. There are a variety of program lengths, but some training can be done in a short time. For example, you could be ready for a job as soon as you complete one semester of school to become an emergency medical technician.

Higher Earnings 

When you complete vocational education, you might be able to find a better-paying job. It typically helps if you seek your first job after graduating from school or want to obtain more education.  

Based on the vocational education report from 2019, VET in postsecondary institutions leads to higher earnings. During the five years of the study, employees with vocational training saw their salaries increase by 7%. The effect held regardless of whether the employees switched employers. Among VET industries where wages increased, health, business, and technology were the best performers.

Vocational Education is an Excellent Practice

Vocational education goes beyond just an education; it involves getting the competent workforce out. In other words, it meets the whole purpose of going to higher education, which is to enhance your career prospects. Check out any classroom in a technical school, and you will find students there with a degree who realized they also need practical training. Some students seek their four-year degree after trade school training too.

A look in any vocational classroom in a technical institute will show you students with degrees who then realized they needed hands-on experience. Many students pursue their four-year degrees after completing vocational training.

Also Read: How to leverage your informal education to benefit your career

Career Opportunities Provided by Vocational Education

Group of young students doing technical vocational practice with teacher in the electronic classroom, Vocational Education and technology concept

Although academic-focused education usually requires two to four years of formal education, vocational training can be done in shorter periods. Most career and vocational education courses can be completed in two or less than two years, with some programs taking even less time. While few vocational programs offer an associate degree, most provide a diploma, certificate, or credential related to a particular profession. Take a look at some of the career opportunities that vocational training offers.

Leadership and Management

Several examples exist of people who have completed leadership and management courses and established successful businesses. Getting experience in a natural business environment can help you develop a wide variety of practical skills that would be helpful when starting your own business. Besides getting knowledge about leadership skills, you can also learn about delegation, hiring the best employees, and how to deal with conflicts.

For example, planning, organizing, and monitoring one’s workload is a skill that small business owners need to develop to succeed. Having first-hand knowledge of supervising others is another benefit of vocational training.

Business Management

A vocational diploma in management provides all of the skills necessary for an entrepreneur to run a successful business. Business Management goes beyond administrative duties; a good manager has to be able to interact with others effectively. In addition to knowing how to lead effectively, business managers must also understand how to manage a team.

According to many business leaders, the organization of productive meetings is one of the most sought-after skills in the workplace.

Taking a course in business administration will allow you to become a valuable member of your organization. You will learn skills that help you know how to motivate others, make decisions, communicate effectively, and lead by example. In addition, the course will help you learn the skills like how to encourage others, communicate efficiently, make wise decisions, and demonstrate leadership qualities.

Project Management

Suppose a career in project administration, team coordination, or project management appeals to you. In that case, a vocational certificate in project management may be suitable for you.

To effectively manage projects, you will have to acquire several hard skills to achieve in an academic setting. For example, communicating effectively, organizing your time and resources, and managing your time are all the required skills you must have to succeed in project management. In addition to their usefulness in various industries, project management vocational courses have many advantages. A project manager’s job includes budgeting, planning, and keeping organized while staying people-friendly and delivering the project on time.

Air Traffic Controller

To become an Air Traffic Controller, you typically need an associate’s degree or military experience equivalent to that level. However, it is one of the high-paying careers obtained after two years of vocational training. 

What is the job description of an Air Traffic Controller? An air traffic controller’s primary responsibility is to ensure that aircraft operations are safe. Besides this, their responsibility is to guide aircraft into and out of airports quickly and efficiently.

However, it is required that one undergo a variety of fitness, mental health, and knowledge tests to achieve this position. In addition, some air traffic controllers are also commissioned from the Armed Forces.

Pharmacy Technician

The curriculum for pharmacy technicians typically consists of a year-long vocational certificate program and a certification test. As part of their responsibilities, pharmacy technicians dispense medications and fill prescription orders for patients at hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, retail pharmacies, and other medical facilities under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist. Additionally, they handle pharmaceutical inventory management, labeling, packaging medications, and providing customer service.


A high school diploma and an electrical apprenticeship are two requirements for electricians. Because electrical systems are complex and the dangers involved in working with them, the course of training required to become an electrician can be up to four years. In almost every case, an electrician must also be licensed. The job of an electrician involves repairing, servicing, and setting up wiring, reading blueprints, and checking for electrical problems.


Skills and technical trades provide a range of career possibilities, from manufacturing to repairing vehicles and construction to information technology. However, qualified workers are in short supply in these fields. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, there is a shortage of skilled workers in at least 600,000 occupations, including electricians and carpenters. A 10 million skilled worker gap could be evident by 2020.

Among the many career opportunities available both inside and outside the courthouse, the legal services industry boasts a broad range of practice areas. Legal professionals receive the majority of attention, but those in support positions are responsible for moving the legal system forward. A multitude of such opportunities are vocational and include a wide range of careers, such as those associated with courtrooms (court clerk, bailiff), administrative (manager, accountant), or operational (network analyst, network manager).


Drafters are skilled professionals who prepare blueprints used by construction teams per design specifications given by architects and engineers. Drafts play a significant role in virtually all construction projects, from homes to large structures and tall buildings. An associate’s degree program is typically the most suitable path to becoming a draftsman because it helps you understand the core principles of architecture, engineering, and software programs like CAD.

Elevator Installer and Repairer

Elevator Installer & Repairer are responsible for maintaining, installing, and repairing elevators, moving walkways, escalators, chairlifts, and other lifts. They read building blueprints to determine what type of machinery and related components to use before installing and testing the elevator for functionality. The technicians analyze building blueprints to select the type of equipment and associated components, then assemble the lift and make sure that it is functional.

 Along with diagnosing problems, elevator installers and repairers must conduct regular maintenance to meet building codes and government safety guidelines. Most of these technicians are employed by private equipment companies, and their annual earnings are pretty high. Apprenticeship training of four years is required to become an elevator installer or repairer.

IT Technician

A computer support specialist, a.k.a. an IT technician, is responsible for installing, configuring, and maintaining local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and other networks. They are also responsible for security functions, such as defending against cybercriminals and recovering digital assets that have been stolen. In addition, sometimes IT technicians provide customer support by coaching users on how to use new hardware and software and troubleshooting issues they might be experiencing.

You can achieve a computer support specialist job by obtaining an IT certificate or an associate degree or enrolling in a professional training program offered by Google and CompTIA.

Famous People Who Attended Vocational Education and Succeeded

When you want to become a project manager, business manager, plumber, electrician, or HVAC technician, you need to undergo some specialized, practical training called vocational training. Vocational education offers several benefits, including earning a decent wage. At the same time, you study and can avoid the heavy debt that comes with going to college and getting an undergraduate degree. One may think that academic training is necessary for success in the real world. However, many past examples of people have succeeded simply by completing vocational training. We will look at a few examples that may be familiar to you.

Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci

In history, he is remembered as one of the most talented and most popular inventors, sculptors, and painters of all time. A couple of his paintings are known worldwide, like The Last Supper and Mona Lisa. However, one thing most people don’t know about him is that this genius of the Italian Renaissance began his career as an apprentice.

Halle Berry

Halle Berry

Hollywood actress Halle Berry gained fame when she appeared in Monster’s Ball and Swordfish, part of the popular X-Men franchise. Her outstanding performance in Monster’s Ball brought her an Oscar. Additionally, she received several other awards, including nominations for an Emmy Award and the Golden Globe. But before her appearance in Hollywood, Halle had attended Cuyahoga Community College in Ohio and studied broadcast journalism. Despite this, she left the study before completing her degree and has focused on the entertainment industry in her career since then.

Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley

Had Elvis Presley pursued his original career path, he might not have become known as the “King of Rock and Roll.” Following his high school graduation, Elvis enrolled in an apprenticeship program for electricians. During his spare time, Elvis continued to pursue his passion for music. While interviewing the press, Elvis revealed, “I was training to be an electrician. I suppose I got wired the wrong way round somewhere along the line.”

Similarly, George Harrison of the Beatles began his career this way. When he was 16 years old, he had become an electrician’s apprentice.

Morgan Freeman

Morgan Freeman

Morgan Freeman has received a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for his performances in hit movies, including “The Shawshank Redemption” and “Million Dollar Baby.” However, as an undergraduate student at Los Angeles City College, Freeman received training that helped him develop his unique voice. Morgan reportedly revealed, “I went to school to become an actor” in 2016 during an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Morgan then added that at LA City College, there was a voice and diction teacher who was very good at his job.

It is fitting that Freeman’s big break in the entertainment business was on the TV show “The Electric Company,” one of the first to teach reading to children.

Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver

Traditionally, apprenticeship programs are associated with trades jobs, but these learning opportunities are available in many fields. For example, Jamie Oliver is a famous chef and author, who grew up in England and graduated with a GED when he was 16. As he started his vocational training in London, he worked at various restaurants to gain hands-on experience. He now runs an apprenticeship program at his restaurant.

They may have moved on to different careers. However, each of these celebrities started off learning—and earning—as an apprentice. Today’s men and women apprenticing in the trades follow a long tradition. For every Elvis and Ozzy (or Stella), tens of thousands of men and women have turned their apprenticeships into satisfying lifelong careers as plumbers, electricians, and HVAC techs.

Although many of these famous people took different paths in their careers, they all learned as apprentices. Following their example can give you a significant boost in your career. In the current day and age, women and men pursue vocational training. There are multiple examples in history of people who turned their vocational training into fulfilling lifelong careers as electricians, project managers, HVAC technicians, and plumbers.

Final Thoughts

If you are still unsure whether or not vocational education is for you, see if any of the above options appeal to you. Then determine which type of work you prefer: creating things, helping others, or using your hands. Whether your interest is in working in health care or automobile repair, or restaurant management, there is a vocational career path that you might enjoy.

It depends on your interests whether you follow a vocational education or an academic one. For example, if you are interested in becoming an electrician, you might want to attend a vocational school. In contrast, if you are interested in becoming an astrophysicist, a doctor, or a music director, academic education is what you should pursue.

VET schools specialize in training for highly in-demand careers in the marketplace, which means you will gain skills that never go out of style or become outdated. Nonetheless, you can upgrade your skills as required. Although you might start on one career path, it doesn’t mean you cannot switch to another along the way. For example, suppose you have chosen a vocational education program but later decide the priorities have changed. In that case, you always have the option of switching to traditional education.

Finally, you should know that some of the richest people in the world have never obtained an academic degree. But they were passionate and talented enough in their field to do great things. So, a vocational education is a good compromise between having a degree and acquiring the skills to do your dream job.