Online vocational education is a valuable tool that adult learners are using to improve their professional knowledge or obtain training to enter a new career. These distance learning programs are increasingly popular among adults, primarily because of convenience and the ability to enroll in courses that meet educational and career objectives. This vocational training provides skills employers really want and prepare adults for the current job market.
Distance learning for online vocational education focuses on specific careers such as auto repair, computers, HVAC, carpentry, electrician, clerical, cosmetology, and many other fields. There are many vocational schools across the country that allows nontraditional students to gain valuable hands-on knowledge and experience in their programs. This avoids wasting time taking courses in foreign languages or advanced mathematics they do not need.
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Myths and Realities: Countering the Cynical Image towards Vocational Education
Before discussing the advantages of vocational education, the first matter is to counter the cynical images of this type of education by highlighting the negatives associated with a four-year degree.
Realities of the Labor Market – the following are realities for those with the view that a four-year college degree is the only path to success (K. C. Gray, “The Gatekeepers,” Eric Journal (1997): 535 321):
- For college students who graduate with a four-year degree, only two of three will find employment related to their field of study.
- Among college students who graduate with a professional credential (i.e., teaching, engineering, or accounting), only one in two will find related employment.
- A four-year degree does not guarantee a high income.
- Professional occupations make up only 20 percent of all jobs; the remaining 80 percent are vocational.
- The fastest-growing segment of the high-skill, high-wage technical jobs in the workplace are occupations that only require an associate’s degree or certificate from a vocational school.
Career Education: Advantages of Enrolling in Online Programs
The online education trend is increasing in all aspects of continuing education or adults. The following are advantages for enrolling in online vocational education.
- Online courses conveniently adapt to most work, life, and family commitments.
- Online programs are cheaper than attending a traditional brick-and-mortar school. This is because of all the fees that are tacked onto tuition expenses. Examples include parking fees, lab fees, library fees, student organization fees, technology fees, and more.
- Most online programs charge one flat fee for each course, which avoids all the fees that drive up education costs.
- In most cases, a certificate or degree in medical careers such as dental assistant, surgical technologist, massage therapist, and X-ray technician can be completed in seven to 20 months.
- Unlike traditional college courses, where students spend most of their time listening to lectures, online vocational education programs offer virtual or actual hands-on experience and considerable time in a lab environment. Students learn how, why, and what makes things work.
- Certification is offered in critical technical areas such as networking technology, Cisco Systems networking, Microsoft, and Windows. Traditional colleges typically only offer four-year programs in computer science.
- It is not necessary to take general education courses such as languages, history, math, and literature. In traditional colleges, students spend the first two years enrolled in these general education courses that have little to do with their major.
- The shortage of skilled workers with vocational education degrees is spread across the construction industry in careers such as carpenters, plumbers, stonemasons, electricians, cabinet makers, welders, and more. The pay for these careers is often better than those with a four-year degree.
Vocational Training: Online Education Concerns
Most students who enroll in online vocational programs tend to lose interest in the program and usually take a considerable amount of time to complete. That is the reason why self-discipline and motivation are very important when planning to enroll in online education programs. It is also important to develop good online learning strategies.
An online option provides so much more flexibility in managing a vocational education program through its convenience. Being in control of one’s education is what many adult learners crave and vocational education online programs satisfy this need for many, especially nontraditional students.
Online schools are an extraordinary solution for those who live too far away or do not want to commute. However, this is not the only reason a person would want to opt for an online vocational school. Some of these schools have an excellent reputation and can provide a very good education, leading even those with a vocational school nearby to opt for the online vocational education option.