A vocational program is an educational curriculum that prepares a student for a career in a particular trade or field. In Australia, these programs are typically provided through vocational schools, also known as career or trade schools. Career schools are available in most local communities, but online education has also become a popular option, and many students choose to complete some or all of their training via the Internet.
Vocational and correspondence schools can train students to excel in a wide range of positions, including mechanics, hair stylists, HVAC technicians and interior designers. Generally, a school will train for a specific trade or a group of related trades; however, some vocational schools are so large that they actually have distinct departments that are able to focus on a particular industry. In other words, it’s possible to find hair stylists and mechanics in the same school.
Is Vocational School Right for You?
To decide if vocational school is the right choice, you must identify a career goal and then determine whether this type of training is the best way to achieve it. If a position demands that you have additional practical skills and experience to achieve it, then a trade school is often an excellent option. Vocational schools not only provide the training, but they can help you find internships and jobs that can serve as the stepping-stone to your goal.
Do You Want to Teach?
Some people have already mastered their trade, at least as far as a vocational school would allow, and want to expand their abilities by being able to teach. Being able to teach, which requires Certificate IV in Australia, makes you more attractive to employers and provides you with additional employment opportunities. Students can achieve their Certificate IV in training and assessment online or at a brick-and-mortar vocational school.
Is Online an Option?
Having online as an option can make vocational training and Certificate IV acquisition more accessible to more people. For many of the vocational training programs, certification is achievable without ever stepping into a traditional educational environment. The traditional options have their benefits too, but for many people who must work fulltime jobs while going to school, online training is the only practical option.
To determine whether vocational school is the right choice, it’s also a wise decision to investigate the alternatives. The alternatives will vary depending on what your goal is, but common alternatives include community college, apprenticeships and on-the-job training. If your goal will require multiple educational phases, then it is also important to ensure that each accomplishment is transferable to the next.
Financial Aid and Loans
Vocational education is no different from traditional education in that financial aid, such as scholarships and loans are available through both government and private sources. Ideally, you should spend as much time exploring your financial options as you do your educational ones. Careful planning in this regard can make your life after school much simpler.
Before You Enroll
Prior to committing, take a tour of the physical or virtual facilities. Sample the classrooms and workshops. Vocational training is a big investment in your life, and it’s paramount that you ensure that the program suits your personality and preferred learning methods. School statistics, such as completion rate, job placement rate and post-graduation debt, can be quite illuminating.
Read the Fine Print
Once you’re ready to commit, take a copy of the contract and all available course materials home with you. Legitimate programs will not pressure you or include gotchas in the contract language. More importantly, most of the top schools will provide you with a full refund should you decide to opt out of the program within a few days of starting it.