Vocational training is training that prepares a student for a career in a trade or service field. Each vocational training curriculum is designed to further a student's education in a specific field and is based on the duties of the job for which the student is training. While the definition of "vocational" can vary widely from one place to another, general categories often include construction trades, healthcare, mechanics, and public services. Curricula may also vary based on whether the training program leads to a certificate, diploma or degree.
Construction trades represent a significant portion of these types of programs. The vocational training curriculum for one of these trades might include general classes that apply to all trades, but most classes would be specific to the trade being learned. For example, a plumbing program might include courses on general construction, operation of power tools and professional ethics, but would focus largely on plumbing-related subjects, such as drainage, plumbing codes, insulation and more. A carpentry program might share the general courses, but would likely also include classes in framing and finish work.
Public services and mechanics are also popular fields that require vocational training. A public services student, for instance, might choose a vocational training curriculum in early childhood care or criminal justice. He might also choose paralegal studies or fire science. Likewise, a mechanics student might choose a vocational training curriculum that focuses on automobiles, marine craft or motorcycles.
In the healthcare field, a vocational training curriculum generally focuses on non-clinical positions. This can include office functions such as billing or insurance coding, and can also include jobs such as patient technicians. In some areas, however, the terms "vocational training" and "technical training" are used interchangeably, so support positions such as X-ray technicians and dental assistants might be considered to require vocation training. This also explains why courses in computers, business, and some areas of the arts are sometimes considered vocational training, particularly when they are offered through a technical school or career development facility.
A vocational training curriculum can also vary based on the completion goal. For example, some such curricula follow traditional trades apprenticeship programs, the goal being to achieve a journeyman or master designation. Other programs are designed to result in a certificate, diploma or degree. In general, the main curriculum difference between these three designations is the quantity of required general education classes, such as English and math. Certificate programs frequently require no general education courses, while such courses can account for as much as a third of degree programs.