When the vast majority of America's youth graduate from high school and head off to college, they have little idea what it is they are truly interested in doing "when they grow up." Selecting a degree program at a tradition four-year institution can be difficult. For others however, a specific career might attract their attention while still in high school.
Vocational degrees offer students and those currently employed in the workforce a great opportunity to pursue a specific career path, and quickly. Vocational degrees are highly specialized degrees that offer education and training for a focused career path. What are some of the most popular vocational degrees? And more importantly, how do they differ from other degree programs?
Traditional Vocational Degree Programs
Historically speaking, the most common vocational degree programs have been those related to the automotive industry and electrical services. Mechanics, auto-body repair workers, electricians, and those employed by power companies often opt for vocational degrees because they provide specific training for these career fields and get students through school and into the workforce quickly.
Over time, a perception has developed that all vocational degrees involve physical labor. Increasingly however, there are highly advanced degree programs offered at vocational institutions that land students in a very different setting.
Emerging Vocational Programs
With the rapid adoption of computer technology, a vast array of computer systems, IT, and network repair/maintenance vocational programs have popped up. As the demand for individuals to work with IT infrastructure increases, the need for vocational programs to match is on the rise.
The fields of nursing and business are also emerging as popular vocational programs. Nursing schools and specialized business schools offer students the opportunity to study in specific areas of medicine and business to prepare for a new career in these respective fields. As it regards business, many of the programs are designed as certificate programs that employees use in a continuing education role to bolster their credentials when seeking a promotion or career change.
Vocational vs. Other Degree Programs
The biggest difference between a vocational degree and other degree programs is the focus of the coursework. Vocational programs are often housed in stand-alone vocational schools dedicated to preparing students for very specific career paths in the future. A four-year university, by contrast, offers students a varied education with the promise of multiple job opportunities in the future.
Vocational degree programs, in most cases, are often cheaper and faster than a traditional Associate's or Bachelor's degree program. While the average Associate's degree takes two years to complete and the average Bachelor's degree four years, many vocational degree programs can be completed in one year.
For the individual that feels a strong calling to a particular career field, a vocational degree might be the better choice to get started in a rewarding career. Once established, it is always possible to seek further education down the road. In the short term, it is hard to beat the training provided and earning power of a vocational degree.
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