Technical and vocational schools are generally designed for students looking to begin their educational careers by exploring the world of work. Students enrolled in these programs are required to examine a variety of fields, often having little to do with the field that the student had initially planned on entering.
What is technical school?
A technical school is a school that prepares students for careers in various technical fields. Traditional career paths can include but are not limited to architecture, computer technology, nursing, engineering, and even pre-med.
There is no specific way to define a technical school; however, their curriculum generally defines them. Technical schools can be grouped into four categories: Trade, Vocational Occupational, High School Institutes, and College prep programs.
Technical schools are more focused on teaching skills commonly needed by the business world and preparing students for entry into professional careers, most often engineering or technology.
These schools have strong connections to trade communities and work closely with industry to develop curricula aligned with employer needs.
What is a vocational school?
Vocational refers to the emphasis on technical skills that work after graduation. Unlike a technical school (technical), vocational training prepares students for work in the service industry (professional or business).
The focus is on practical knowledge and skills. Vocational schools try to prepare students for the workplace without a high level of education. The programs are usually short and are common in trade-based or office environments requiring workers to be trained quickly.
On the other hand, vocational schools focus more on teaching skills required for a particular job. The focus of vocational programs is to develop and teach skills that can be used in entry-level and middle-skilled jobs requiring specific applied knowledge.
Vocational programs are designed around competencies rather than academic degrees, similar to apprenticeships. Vocational programs combine hands-on learning with related classroom instruction.
Training is often provided on the job or in other practical workplace environments through partnerships between schools and industry, business, labor unions, or community organizations.
Many government agencies provide grants and other funding incentives to encourage the development of vocational schools, particularly in rural areas with a workforce shortage. Grants are also given to help fund technical school programs that offer business skills training. Locally developed programs that learn competencies related to the industry also receive funding.
Here are the differences between technical and vocational schools
|Technical School||Vocational School|
| 1. Technical schools are “general” diploma-granting institutions.||Vocational schools grant-specific diplomas for specific vocations such as Electrical, Horticulture, Business, Diesel Mechanics, etc.|
| 2. Technical schools offer technical programs that can be completed in 1 to 2 years and primarily focus on acquiring job skills.||Vocational schools last 2 or 3 years, providing job skills while providing the knowledge and experience to further your education via a transfer program to a 4-year college or university.|
| 3. Technical schools are usually high poverty areas||Vocational schools are located in upper-income areas because they need to teach professional skills and high paying IT jobs.|
| 4. While technical school is academic||Vocational schools focus on developing the English language, business, and/or practical skills for working in a specific occupation.|
| 5. Technical schools are also effective in providing essential customer service skills, customer relationship management, and workplace safety programs.||Vocational schools emphasize teamwork and conflict management, supervisory training and leadership skills, customer service, and business communications.|
| 6. Technical schools are usually open to anyone from any region or country.||Vocational schools are usually businesses that operate in a specific area covering a particular industry in the community or region, e.g., automotive technician school or healthcare vocational school.|
| 7. Technical programs usually offer more technical training for students with less work experience (less than 5 years).||Vocational programs are designed to train individuals who already have work experience and fewer technical skills.|
| 8. Technical school students are more likely to take longer to complete their program and earn a certificate or diploma.||It is common for vocational school students to graduate with an associate degree alongside their specific vocational license or certification from their school program, typically within 2 years from the start date.|
| 9. Technical schools do not require a high school diploma.||Most vocational schools require a high school diploma or equivalent before applying to their programs.|
| 10. Technical schools are more academic and focus on developing the English language, business, and skills for working in a specific occupation.||Vocational schools focus on preparing students for specific occupations or careers,|
| 11. Technical schools focus more on presenting material to students||Vocational school students work in the field they are being trained to work in once their program is complete.|
| 12. Technical school programs are less expensive. ,||Vocational schools are usually more expensive.|
| 13. Technical schools offer more academic courses such as engineering and computer science.||Vocational schools are career programs designed to train students in applied skills needed for specific jobs,|
| 14. Technical schools may require hands-on experience||Vocational programs are specifically designed for it.|
| 15. Students attending a technical school can focus on fields such as engineering or graphic design, where they have to know many different aspects of the area, not just one aspect.||The vocational school focuses on teaching skills in fields like nursing or information technology (IT).|
| 16. During the educational process at technical schools, there is a lot of practical training along with theory classes and labs,||The vocational school provides almost all classes on practical work or lab work along with a few theory classes.|
| 17. Technical schools are designed for students with a high level of knowledge and expertise in a particular field and prepare students for specific jobs that require these skills.||Vocational programs are designed for students who attend them with entry-level or intermediate-level skills in mind, so the focus is to develop the skills needed for that particular field.|
18. Vocational schools typically have strong connections with business and industry, while technical schools do not.
19. Vocational schools provide hands-on training in a lab or on-site, while technical schools provide this type of training through internships.
20. Students can apply for many fields at technical schools, and the course of study depends on the student’s choice. The focus is on teaching students about many different areas, rather than just one specific field.
Technical school students can go into fields such as engineering, computer science, and graphic design, where they need to know many different aspects of the area, not just one aspect.
21. While technical school may require some practical experience, vocational programs are specifically designed for it.
22. Vocational schools have little to no theory classes, but technical schools have classes that are more about theory and less about creating practical tasks.
23. Technical schools are more focused on creating a solid foundation of knowledge, but vocational schools focus on developing proficiency in a specific field.
24. Technical school prepares students to enter the workforce, while vocational programs train students to find employment in the field they are enrolled in.
Although both programs prepare students for their chosen careers, vocational programs focus more on the transferable skills needed to enter the workforce. In contrast, the technical program focuses more on theoretical knowledge in a particular field.
25. Vocational programs are usually shorter than technical programs.
26. Vocational school provides the skills and techniques needed to obtain employment, while technical schools offer their students the knowledge required to operate in a specific work environment.
27. Students who attend vocational school might have an entry-level skill set when they graduate. Still, students who participate in technical schools typically have advanced skills from the start because they are chosen from top students in their high school career and are prepared for jobs that require experience.
28. Vocational students must know about specific fields such as computer science, graphic design, nursing, and more. In contrast, technical schools focus on teaching many aspects of the area, not just one part.
29. Vocational students can participate in internships or work on the job, while technical students are restricted to these activities.
30. Vocational programs usually do not require background checks.
31. Vocational schools must be approved for funding by the state, but technical schools do not have any restrictions on them.
32. Because vocational programs are designed for entry-level jobs and set up to help students enter the workforce, they often also offer training for certification and degrees that can be applied toward a particular career area.
33. Vocational programs are usually run by the industry, while a private or public organization may run technical schools.
34. Technical schools can take anywhere from 18 months to 3 years to complete an undergraduate degree, while vocational programs take about 2 years or less to complete an undergraduate degree in most cases.
35. In technical schools, there are many fields that students can choose from, such as nursing, engineering, and computer science. In contrast, in the vocational field, you can only choose one study area once you get into the program.
36. The exit requirements for both vocational programs and technical schools are more similar than different. Both must have completed an internship or job experience in the field they are preparing for. Technical schools also have specific exams that must be passed before students can graduate in a particular area.
37. In vocational programs, there is more emphasis on servicing the industry and providing practical training in labs and internships. At the same time, technical schools focus more on theory classes and not as much practical training in labs or internships.
38. Vocational training programs also prepare students for jobs requiring lots of writing, while technical school graduates will be required to take a few writing classes when they start working in their field.
39. Students who graduate from vocational school have a better chance of securing a job in their field of study, while the same can be said for technical schools.
40. Technical school programs prepare students perfectly for what they will enter, focusing on theoretical knowledge in that field. In contrast, vocational programs focus more on practical training and giving students the skills needed to work in their area once they graduate.
41. Vocational programs focus on developing a solid foundation of knowledge about a particular field that can be applied to job applications. Still, technical schools focus on developing theoretical knowledge in a specific field, not just practical skills that can be used for jobs.
42. Technical schools and vocational programs are almost the same, but not quite. They do have some differences, and these may include where they are located, who they prepare students to work for, how long they take to complete, the amount of time spent in a lab or internship with practical training, and what kind of degree that student may obtain once they graduate.
Technical schools and vocational programs differ in many ways, but some things go along with both, such as what kind of degree students can obtain once they graduate from either institution.
Both technical schools and vocational programs teach students the skills needed for their field of study, but technical schools focus more on theoretical knowledge than practical knowledge. The right choice will depend on what the student wants to do with their career and which works best in that field.
Conclusion – Differences between technical and vocational schools
Although both vocational and technical schools can provide students with the ability to learn the process of a job, a degree is essential when finding an actual job. Many jobs require specific skill sets that people need to complete daily tasks. This is why people are turning to vocational and technical schools. They offer education in a specific field that could help you get into a particular career in the future.
Though many options are available for individuals who want to receive training before entering a specific trade, there are differences between vocational and technical schools. Most accreditation boards make it clear that they use different standards for evaluating programs that lead to various degrees.