How do I Choose the Best Vocational Courses?

Sarah Valek

Before you choose the best vocational courses to enroll in, you have to know what you want. You have to decide what discipline you want to study, what level of training you want to receive and the institution where you want to take courses. Vocational courses offer hands-on training on a variety of topics. Community colleges and vocational schools offer plenty of courses to choose from for both high school students and adults.

Choosing a field, such as auto mechanics, is the first step in finding vocational courses.
Choosing a field, such as auto mechanics, is the first step in finding vocational courses.

You first need an idea of what field you want to learn about. Popular topics of vocational courses include auto mechanics, graphic design, carpentry, cosmetology, drafting, masonry and horticulture. The topic you choose may not be the field you end up in, but at least you “test drive” a career by taking a related class.

Many vocational schools offer carpentry.
Many vocational schools offer carpentry.

Check to see if the learning institution offering the courses is accredited by a third-party and if the particular courses you’re interested in will transfer to another institution or college. Find out if the courses use any special equipment. If they do, find out if the equipment is up to today’s industry standard. Check whether any costs are involved with the vocational courses you’re pursuing.

Quality of courses vary. Keep in mind that quality is determined partly by individual needs. Certain vocational courses that might fit one person’s career plans are pointless for another’s. Find out the courses’ teacher-to-student ratios and look for courses where the ratio is fairly low, leaving more time for students to receive individual attention. Look for the instructor’s bio and credentials.

Quality instructors should have some recognition in their chosen field. Also ask for information on how many students who attempt the course actually complete it. Do students of this school go on to become gainfully employed? Do most students even graduate?

Vocational courses are now offered in many formats. Think about your needs and prior commitments before scheduling courses. If you have young children, you might be interested in online or part-time courses. Night courses are popular with people working jobs with traditional business hours. Consider how long the course lasts, in terms of hours each day and how long the total course runs.

If you want additional insight on whether a vocational course is right for you, consult a counselor or former student. Counselors will make sure your courses are worthwhile for achieving your current goals. They can make sure you’re taking the right courses you need for graduation. Former students are usually open about their opinions of a course and tell you the nitty-gritty details that a counselor may not know about.

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