Vocational Training vs. Traditional College Education

Vocational Training vs. Traditional College Education

With ‘job creation’ acknowledged as an urgent need by every industrialized nation, millions of new jobs are waiting for trained professionals. While college education costs an arm and a leg and takes a long time to get a worker ready to join the workforce, vocational training provide an immediate solution to fulfilling the job vacancies we continue to experience now and for the next decade.

Additionally, according to UNESCO, at least 475 million new jobs need to be created over the next decade in the industrialized nations, to continue having a vibrant workforce. Vocational education and training delivers practical hands-on skills for students to use immediately once they complete their course, with many offering immediate job placement opportunities.

Here’s a list showing some of the more popular vocational jobs and their median annual (2022) salaries, here in U.S.:

Auto finance manager (F&I Manager): $142,855

Air traffic controller: $122,990

Power plant operator: $84,287

Construction manager: $95,260

Electric Lineman: $75,115

Dental hygienist: $77,307

Medical Sonographer: $62,923

MRI Tech: $74,655

Nuclear Technician: $84,482

Electrician: $56,180

Licensed practical nurse: $47,480

Radiology Tech: $61,910

Cardiovascular Tech: $58,469

Respiratory Therapist: $62,844

Electronics Technician: $67,439

Industrial Engineering Technician: $57,497

Industrial Mechanic: $55,413

IT Support Specialist: $52,941

Graphic Designer: $53,572

Cable / Fiber Optics Tech: $61,363

Aircraft Mechanic: $66,728

Police Officer: $65,646

Criminal Investigator: $85,762

Real Estate Appraiser: $58,582

Heavy Equipment Mechanic: $55,452

Despite rapid changes resulting from automation and information technology, the world will always need professionals that take on the roles of air traffic controllers, construction managers, dental hygienists, logistics managers, web developers and many other such skill-based training that acquire their knowledge and education in a trade school.

Almost all four-year college degrees or even postgraduate degrees focus more on knowledge rather than hands-on training. Hence these do not offer career-based training that focus solely on practical skills, for instance auto-repair, carpentry, cosmetology, welding, catering and culinary arts, paralegal studies, factory equipment assembly, industrial manufacturing tools, plant automation tools repair, and many others.

Benefits that can’t be matched

Vocational training offers practical training and hands-on experience versus years of studying in a college course to obtain a general degree.

Deciding between these two will shape an individual’s entire career and, hence, future and lifestyle.

Workforce is getting more and more competitive, and the current economic climate is seeing many college graduates sitting on the sidelines waiting to get into their chosen industry to gain valuable job experience embark on a career of their choice.

At the same time, there is a very high demand for trained professionals as there are large numbers of vacancies in U.S. for specialized professions. Many job seekers have been encouraged to begin weighing their options to opt for a vocational training program instead of a long costly college education and the subsequent challenges associated to getting into an entry-level job to gain experience.

Another deciding factor is that professional training schools and institutions are indeed less expensive than the cost of attending a college or university. A four-year college degree, on average, can cost anywhere between $120k to $200k and more for some marketing and management courses. A vocational training offered by a licensed and reputable institution costs start around $20k.

In addition to the cost benefits, a vocational training course can take only a few months, although some can take one or two years, while college degrees are four or more years.

When it comes to specialized trade professions, there are many benefits associated to vocational training versus a traditional college degree. One of the most significant advantages of vocational training is that instructors are often industry professionals, which gives students the opportunity to learn from an experienced professional in the field.

This is essential because students obtain deep insight into the profession or trade and what it takes to be successful on the job.

Classes are also usually smaller with teachers providing more customized hands-on instructions in a smaller group. There is more direct participation, more engagement, and practical skills often come with individualized attention from trainers, and hence a better opportunity to learn from and get to know your peers.

This practical insight and a deep understanding of the profession, often leads directly to a job offer.

Flexibility when faced with a busy schedule

Many students also choose vocational training since their circumstances demand that they go to school while juggling other responsibilities. Options such as evening, weekend, and online learning make this option beneficial for those who are trying to develop new skills and expertise to pursue a new career to increase their future income, while working full-time in their current job.

While working in their current job, students can often complete their training in a short period of time, on flexible time or part-time basis. Training courses offer varying duration, but most can be completed quickly compared to a traditional college degree, with little or no time wasted. For example, emergency medical technicians are ready to begin their careers after just 2 months. Auto finance managers (F&I Managers) at Automobile Dealership Institute can be ready in a little as four weeks.

Additionally, Automotive Dealership Institute offers job placements to inform prospective students about employment opportunities upon graduation as well as guiding them to get into a new job opening with a success rate of about 90%. Vocational job placement for graduates is generally high and even have the potential to get a six-figure salary with the right training and job placement support.

A list of major benefits of vocational training:

Cost-efficiency of vocational education

Vocational schools offer unique insight and training

Join the workforce quickly after a flexible training

Hands-on environment

Well-paying career opportunities

Vocational schools have higher employment rate

The student transitions to their career choice directly

Relevant skills in less time

The chances of graduating are high

The future for vocational trade is bright


Considering the cost, time commitment and lack of direct path to a job, more and more individuals are foregoing traditional college degree and are taking the vocational training route. This option is especially useful for those who are looking to gain hands-on training through a specialized training course (or may be online course) which can quickly lead to a job offer.