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Vocational Degree Definition Requirements and Uses

Vocational Degree Definition Requirements and Uses

Vocational Degree: Definition, Requirements, and Uses

What Is a Vocational Degree?

A vocational degree is an academic certificate awarded to students who have completed the degree requirements for a specific trade or career. Vocational degrees require less time to complete than traditional degree programs like associate or bachelor’s degrees. Upon completion, students are often ready to begin working in their chosen trade. Traditional college undergraduate degrees focus on developing overall intelligence and critical-thinking skills, while vocational degrees provide training for specific jobs like medical coding and billing, auto mechanics, cosmetology, electrical work, and legal secretary work.

Key Takeaways

  • Vocational degrees are academic certificates awarded to students who have completed degree requirements for a specific trade or career.
  • Completing a vocational degree program typically takes less time than a traditional undergraduate program.
  • Some workers seek vocational degrees to remain marketable as careers and business needs evolve.

Understanding Vocational Degrees

Obtaining a vocational degree may sometimes be possible in a program that also offers a bachelor’s degree, but not all vocational degrees can be obtained through a traditional four-year college. For example, becoming a paralegal can be achieved by obtaining a law degree at a university or by completing a paralegal vocational degree, but only a few colleges offer bachelor’s degrees in cosmetology.

Requirements for a Vocational Degree

The qualifications for a vocational degree may vary by state. For example, in California, two years of nursing education can be considered a vocational or technical degree, while in other states, it may not be categorized as vocational. The length of vocational degree programs can range from a couple of months to two years.

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The value of vocational degrees can also vary, with some shorter-term programs offering higher career returns on investment. The range of salaries for jobs available to those with vocational degrees can vary widely.

Special Considerations

Vocational degrees are sometimes pursued by individuals who already have careers in one field but want to be trained in additional areas. This is common in industries undergoing evolutionary periods, where new skill sets are needed to remain employed. For example, many careers now require an understanding of information technology and computer programming skills.

Vocational degrees can also be used by job-changers who want to pursue a different career path. These individuals may already have college degrees in specialized fields. Pursuing a vocational degree can open up new opportunities that may not have been available otherwise, especially when certain industry positions experience a sudden rise in demand with a shortage of professionals. Obtaining a vocational degree that offers in-demand skills can lead to higher salaries in a shorter time.

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