Vocational certificates and other educational programs are available both online and on campus to help you prepare for a number of different careers that are in high demand and have earnings potential.

10 Most Popular Vocational Programs

Whether you're just graduating from high school or have been "downsized" and need to train for a different career or seriously upgrade your career skills, attending a vocational school could help you to enter the job market more quickly. If you've always wanted a second career or you want your education to relate directly to the real world, enrolling in a vocational education program may be the right step for you. The Department of Labor lists the 50 fastest-growing occupations for 2008-2018. Here are 10 popular vocational education programs, many of which are listed on the Department of Labor's top 50 list, that could get you started on your career in two years or less.

Health care careers

Almost 50 percent of the Department's top 25 fastest growing careers are related to health care. Job growth for these health care careers is expected to be between 19 percent and 36 percent.


1. Vocational education/certificate. Most vocational education programs for licensed vocational nurses, or LVNs, and licensed practical nurses, or LPNs, last about a year. A state license is required to practice.

2. Associate degree. Nationwide, there is a shortage of registered nurses, or RNs. An associate degree plus a license is required to be an RN. Other programs, such as the Associate Degree in Nursing, or ADN, and the Bachelor of Science in Nursing, or BSN, are also available for RNs who want to specialize.

Medical therapists and assistants

3. Vocational education/certificate. Medical assisting careers include surgical technologists and nursing aides and orderlies and attendants. Therapist careers include massage therapists. Surgical technology jobs require nine to 24 month vocational education programs. The most common type of schooling for nursing aides is through a certified nursing assistant, or CNA program, which can last from six to 12 weeks.

4. Associate degree. Medical therapist careers include options to be a radiation therapist or respiratory therapist. Medical assisting careers in this category include physical therapy and occupational therapy assistants, cardiovascular technologists/ technicians, medical records and health information technicians and a number of other medical assisting careers. Dental hygienists are at the top of the fastest growing careers list.


5. Associate degree/certificate. Paralegals, legal assistants and legal secretaries are generally required to have at least an associate degree although some positions only require a certificate. Depending on the program, certificate education can last from 14 weeks to seven months. If you already have a degree, earning a legal certificate can help you change career paths.

Personal care services

6. Vocational education/certificate. Skin care specialists top the list of fastest growing occupations with an expected increase of 38 percent in jobs. Hairdressers and stylists, cosmetologists, manicurists and pedicurists and barbers are all expected to see increases in job opportunities. The time to complete vocational education or a certificate program varies by career and according to state regulations.


7. Vocational education/certificate. Many employers require at least an associate degree for entry level business careers. Those already in a career can enroll in vocational schools to obtain certificates or take courses that increase their knowledge in a specific field such as business administration, accounting, human resources or international business. Length can vary by program.

8. Associate degree. Almost every aspect of business has a corresponding associate degree program including business administration, accounting, acquisition and contract management, economics, marketing, human resources and more.

Engineering, electronics, installation and repair

9. Vocational education/certificate. A number of careers fall under this category including heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics and installers; medical equipment repairers; security and fire alarm installers; audio and video technicians; electrical and electronics repairers; electronic home entertainment equipment installers and repairers; automobile mechanics and welders. Program lengths can vary.

10. Associate degree. Vocational education is available for a variety of careers in this category: civil engineering technician, avionics technician and drafting and design engineer. Programs are also available in automotive technology, construction technology and mechanic and repair technologies.

Regardless of what your career goals are, you can see from this list of 10 popular vocational education programs that there's at least one that could help you make a start. Research your options today.

Vocational & Technical Schools by State

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