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Top Vocational Schools Directory

Vocational schools and trade schools provide the alternative to a degree from a traditional university or college. Rather than providing a broad, encompassing education, vocational and trade schools provide targeted training to complete specific work. Some courses may carry over to another field of vocational studies; for example, the mathematics used for repairing a diesel engine may apply when repairing a motorcycle engine, but many vocational courses are specialized for a certain trade.

Vocational schools provide two education paths -- a vocational or trade certification, or a degree. Degree programs offered in vocational schools start with an associate degree and can, depending on the profession, include up to a master’s degree. Many of the degrees offered by vocational are considered to be “terminal” or the highest degree available in a specific vocation or profession. Further education beyond a terminal degree typically does not lead to earning a higher degree, but may be useful to expand a worker's qualifications.

Some vocationally focused schools have gone on to become prestigious entities within their own right, for example; the California Institute of Technology and Carnegie Mellon University.

The following six schools were listed among 2012’s Best Technical and Vocational Education Programs by U.S. News & World Report. The schools were ranked according to tuition, enrollment and the amount of external funding, as well as other factors:

1.  Pennsylvania State University
2.  Ohio State University
2.  University of Georgia
4.  University of Minnesota
5.  Virginia Tech
6.  Oklahoma State University

Vocational certificates and degree programs available from schools and colleges through SchoolsGalore.com

Vocational certificates

A vocational certification is a badge of experience for a worker in a chosen vocation. Certifications often require some formal education in the vocation paired with practical, hands-on experience. Some certifications are offered from associations or institutions, such as Automotive Service Excellence certification for auto workers offered by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, while other times the certification may be offered by vendors, such as the Honda, Kawasaki or Harley Davidson certifications for motorcycle repair. The NIASE does not currently certify motorcycle engine mechanics.

While certifications can be offered by institutions or product vendors, authorized certification programs are available from a variety of schools and colleges. Depending on the specific vocational course, a certification program may last a few weeks or sometimes even a year. Some programs require an apprenticeship so students can gain hands-on experience in the field prior to completing their studies.

Vocational degrees

Vocational degrees are focused degrees to provide both hands-on training and traditional education for a student to perform a specific job. Many vocational schools provide the terminal degree for a vocation, in addition to non-terminal degrees. This could be an associate degree for auto mechanics or a master’s degree in construction engineering.

An associate degree can usually be completed following a one-to two-year full-time program while a bachelor’s degree may usually be completed in four years. Master’s degree programs can vary depending on the vocation and the school providing the degree. In some cases, vocational degree credits can transfer out to non-vocational schools and programs, depending on the school and the courses. This may be a consideration for students who decide to earn a professional degree while enrolled in a vocational degree program.

Career overview for vocational studies

Vocational schools span a vast array of different specializations, but here are employment projections for a few selected occupations.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects employment for automotive mechanics to grow by up to 17 percent between 2010 and 2020 nationally, which is about as fast as average for all U.S. occupations (BLS.gov, 2012). The median annual salary for an automotive mechanic was $36,180 nationally in May 2011 (BLS.gov, 2012).

Barbers earned a national median wage of $11.63 an hour as of May 2011 (BLS.gov, 2012). Employment for barbers, hairdressers, cosmetologists and shampooers is expected to grow by up to 14 percent nationally from 2010 to 2020, which is about as fast as all other occupations in the U.S. (BLS.gov, 2012).

Learn more about vocational programs from schools and colleges through SchoolsGalore.com

When researching colleges and universities, make sure to verify that your choice of school is accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council or by another accrediting agency that is approved by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, or both. DETC and CHEA both provide a searchable list of approved schools.


Automotive Service Excellence Certification
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics (OES)
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics (OOH)
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Barbers (OES)
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Barbers, Hairdressers, and Cosmetologists (OOH)
U.S. News & World Report: Best Technical and Vocational Education Programs (2012)