Unlike traditional colleges and universities, vocational schools offer non-academic education designed to prepare students directly for a career. Vocational schools may be called an institute of technology or a community college. While a traditional college or university degree is typically of higher value career-wise, at least in the long run, a vocational education can provide fast training and entry into a career that is currently in demand. If you've decided on pursuing vocational rather than traditional education, weigh the likely pros and cons as well as choose a school with a good reputation.
Even if the vocational education you're considering is government accredited, look beyond that quality alone. Ask to see research on graduated students and what careers they obtained with the education you want to take. Do informational interviews with employers you hope to work for after you graduate the course. Explain that you hope to perhaps work with them in the future and would like to ask a few questions about their educational requirements as you're deciding which courses to take. Be prepared to mention the course outline and key learning points, as they may not have heard of the school.
If the employers you speak with during informational interviews have hired employees from one of the schools you're considering receiving vocational education from, then that fact may help your decision making. If the hiring managers from the companies you hope to work for one day don't seem very positive about the schools or career curriculum you mention, it's wise to choose another school or reconsider academic education. The main purpose of vocational training is to prepare you for a career, so if that won't be the case, you'll only have wasted your time and money.
Research the vocational schools you're considering online as well as check with consumer advocate organizations such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to find out if any complaints have been lodged against them. Be wary of schools that either promise too much or too little in the way of career achievement after graduating from one of their programs. Find community colleges or technology institutes that will give you a list of companies in which their graduates have found work. Be sure to check with these companies to see if they support the school's claim before signing up for vocational education.
Determining the value of the education you'll receive is crucial. Weigh the cost of the program against the hourly wage or salary of the job you'd likely get after completing your education. If you'll be paying back a loan, figure in this cost along with your other expenses such as housing, food, clothing and transportation. Also consider how you'll support yourself if you don't find a job in your trained field as soon as you hope. Make sure the vocational education you choose is in a field that is in demand in your area and that you won't face competition from applicants with traditional college degrees.