Vocational or career training schools help build skills and knowledge for specific jobs. This article reviews the history of vocational education, on-the-job training programs, and offer you tips to help you choose the right vocational school.

Likely you have seen the commercials advertising career training schools. Some offer certificates, others explain that with their education, you can get a better job or higher pay. So what do you look for in choosing a career training school, or otherwise known as a vocational school?

First you need to understand some history behind vocational education. It has its roots in apprenticeship programs in and out of the home for many centuries and manual labor training. Some of the early vocational schools include Cooper Union (1859) and the Tuskegee Institute (1881). World War II brought advancements to vocational education as trained technicians were needed for various war positions. After the war, many veterans took the GI educational money to learn a trade or enhance their skills.

Lately vocational education has made its way into high schools with some graduates receiving certification in various fields. Some community colleges have specialized vocational programs and some vocational programs work within corporations to provide on-the-job training. Another option is correspondence schools that provide various certificates upon completion. In a nutshell, vocational education is not training for professionals, but instead focuses providing certifications, licenses, and/or furthering knowledge in many fields employment.

But not all vocational colleges are meant for you, and some are not even legitimate. The following are some tips to help you choose the right vocational school.

  • First look at the job you want. Does it require a vocational education or can you learn what you need on-the-job?
  • If in high school, look to see what vocational training is available as this is a far less expensive option than the private vocational school. If out of high school, check out the local community colleges for their vocational opportunities, again this can be a cheaper alternative to a private vocational school.
  • Compare programs, including the correspondence schools. What is needed to graduate and what will you receive upon graduating (i.e. certificate, license, or some sort of externship)?
  • If you are planning on pursuing further education, check to see if the credits of the particular correspondence school or vocational school are transferable.
  • Visit the school. Are the classes small and engaging? Talk to the students, do they like their programs?
  • Ask about all costs. Some vocational programs cost more than others depending on licensing and equipment costs.
  • Compare courses, time to completion, graduate percentage and job placement.

A final important tip is to check with the state licensing board, the accreditation company that accredited the school, and the Better Business Bureau to make sure the vocational school is up-to-date and trustworthy.

Vocational or career training schools can enhance your on-the-job marketability, skills, and knowledge. It can train you for your first jump into employment, or a better job change in the future. But do not just jump at the ads on television or in your mailbox, do some homework and find the best vocational educational opportunity for you.