Why are career and vocational training programs important?

Whether you're getting ready for your first job, hoping to embark on a new career path or looking to upgrade your current skills, up-to-date training can increase your chances of success. Career schools and junior colleges offer a wide range of online courses, certificates, diplomas and vocational training programs that can help students gain skills in the career field of their choice.

While any accredited career training program can help increase skills, online vocational training allows you to learn at your own pace and continue working while you study. Many of the courses offered online meet or exceed the standards needed to gain technical certification or union membership, but it never hurts to check with your local, regional or national certification bodies and union boards for details.

How does vocational training differ from traditional education courses?

Traditional education degrees typically include a general knowledge component, consisting of such academic subjects as world history, life sciences, English composition, psychology and communications. In contrast, vocational training tends to narrow its focus to cover only the knowledge areas most important to a particular career, which can allow students to finish programs more quickly and apply their new skills in the workforce as soon as possible.

Some vocational training programs are offered as degree-style programs, beginning with foundational courses and building on introductory knowledge with more advanced concepts over time. Others consist of one or two classes designed to supplement career skills already acquired on the job. One of the main differences between online degrees and online courses is that professionals whose career training programs only require one-off classes can often choose from a wider variety of options than those whose training comes as an entire degree plan.

Vocational training programs and careers

There are many factors that come into play when evaluating an online career training program. Prospective students should look for a provider whose course material and delivery method best suits their needs. Here's a list of careers that employ graduates of vocational training programs, along with a brief description of what students can expect to learn in their corresponding programs:

  • Medical Assisting: Professionals with medical assistant training provide valuable support to health care providers in hospitals, pharmacies, doctors' offices, dentists' offices and other health care facilities.
  • Bookkeeping: A few online bookkeeping courses can turn one's knack for organization into a career keeping accurate financial records for businesses, non-profits and other enterprises.
  • Fashion Design: Discover how fashion design training sharpens creativity for design, development and production of clothing and other wearables for retail sale or high-fashion display.
  • Automotive Mechanics: Supplement your on-the-job training with online automotive mechanics training that teaches you history, theory, sales concepts and entrepreneurial skills.
  • Gunsmithing: If you have an interest in firearms, online gunsmith training can help you find a rewarding career repairing, restoring, customizing and educating people about guns.
  • Private Investigations: Work toward a career as a PI with online private investigator courses that provide training in surveillance, information gathering, device tracking and legal proceedings.

Workers with vocational education can find work in numerous industries across the country. This table covers hot industries for workers with vocational or career training and the skills employers will expect one to use on the job:

Career title

Career description

Dental assistant

Dental assistants prepare patients for treatment, sterilize instruments, process x-ray pictures and assist dentists during procedures. They may also maintain patient records and schedule appointments.


Cosmetologists demonstrate, analyze and apply makeup for clients and recommend or sell skin care products. In some cases, cosmetologists may clean and style hairpieces and wigs or provide scalp and facial treatments.

Personal trainer

Personal trainers direct clients toward effective methods of exercise designed to build strength, flexibility and endurance. They also dispense nutrition advice and work to minimize the potential for injury.

Bookkeeping clerk

Bookkeeping clerks use accounting software to make records of financial transactions and ensure their accuracy. They work extensively with spreadsheets and usually produce balance sheets, income statements or other reports.

Computer support specialist

Computer support specialists work to analyze, troubleshoot, diagnose and correct computer system issues. They may support individual users, either over the phone or in person, and may focus on computer networking and enterprise systems.


Carpenters assemble and repair the wooden frameworks of buildings, including rafters, stairways, doorways and floors. Some carpenters focus on interior details of homebuilding, such as fixtures, siding, molding and kitchen cabinets.

Online vocational and career training courses may seem intimidating at first, but careful attention and a willingness to learn can open up a world of new possibilities.


"Online Degree Programs vs. One-Off Courses: Getting the Most Out of Online Education," Jonathan Haber, WorldWideLearn, /education-articles/online-degree-programs-vs-online-courses.html

"Dental Assistants," Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014-15 Edition, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Healthcare/Dental-assistants.htm

"Barbers, Hairdressers and Cosmetologists," Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014-15 Edition, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Personal-Care-and-Service/Barbers-hairdressers-and-cosmetologists.htm

"Fitness Trainers and Instructors," Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014-15 Edition, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Personal-Care-and-Service/Fitness-trainers-and-instructors.htm

"Bookkeeping, Accounting and Auditing Clerks," Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014-15 Edition, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Office-and-Administrative-Support/Bookkeeping-accounting-and-auditing-clerks.htm

"Carpenters," Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014-15 Edition, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Construction-and-Extraction/Carpenters.htm

"Computer Support Specialists," Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014-15 Edition, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Computer-and-Information-Technology/Computer-support-specialists.htm