Careers Without College
College may be the most popular route to a successful career, but it isn’t the right route for everyone. If you’re looking to land your first good job or planning to change careers, you may find that vocational school is a better choice.
A vocational training program can give you the specialized skills you’ll need to start a new career yet can cost less than a college education and take less time to complete. You can choose programs in a wide variety of fields, ranging from culinary arts and computers to construction and trucking.
The time and money you spend attending vocational school is an investment in your future. But before you make that investment, investigate the school thoroughly. Here are some frequently asked questions to help you get started.
Do I need a high-school diploma to be admitted to vocational school?
Most vocational schools require that you have a high-school diploma or a GED (general equivalency diploma) certificate to be admitted. Some may waive the requirement if you pass an entrance examination. Check the requirements for each school you’re considering before you apply.
Is financial aid available for vocational school students?
Yes. Each year, the U.S. Education Department provides billions of dollars in grants, loans, and work-study programs to help students attend college and vocational schools. For information about applying, visit the Education Department’s website.
The federal government isn’t the only source of assistance. Many states also have financial aid programs. And many vocational schools offer their own scholarships or other types of aid. To find out about the different types of aid available, speak to the school’s financial aid officer and to a student loan officer at your credit union.
Will the school help me get a job?
Most vocational schools offer some kind of job placement. Ask the school what it will and will not do to help. For example, will it set up interviews with potential employers? Will it help you put together your résumé and sharpen your interview skills? Also, find out what percentage of its graduates are placed in jobs.
What other types of vocational training programs should I look into?
Vocational school isn’t the only source of vocational training. Community colleges, for example, also offer vocational training programs, and the tuition may be lower than at a private vocational school.
Many businesses offer apprenticeships or on-the-job training.
To find information about the different types of vocational training programs available, check out Trade Schools and the Career School Now websites closest to where you live or want to live. The Consumer Advice page of the FTC website is another great resource.