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Vocational And Trade

Distance learning presents an interesting opportunity for people interested in developing a career in a skilled vocational or trade position.  In some instances – particularly the building trades – the old system of apprenticeship is still in operation.  Nevertheless, in order to become a licensed electrician or plumber, there is generally some vocational training involved as well.  If vocational education is not available through on-the-job training, it can certainly be found through an online vocational college. 

There are vocational and technical trade schools offering HVAC certification, auto mechanic certification, and for the traditional trades such as locksmithing, jewelry repair, and electronics technician.  All of these trades require on the job experience, they are professions where much of the practice is learned in the field.  You are much more likely to get an opportunity in the field, however, if you have earned a vocational certification, you will have the basic education necessary in the profession.

Certified online training programs are being provided by technical trade schools in a wide variety of professional areas; from hospitality to bookkeeping to child care.  In many areas a diploma or certificate from an online school will get you started in one of many vocational careers that interests you.  You can add to that training through online trade schools as time goes on.  Many people who begin a career at the entry level stack layers of education as they grow into the job.  For instance, you can take an online certification program in the paralegal field and probably get in the door at a law firm.  Once you’re working, you can get an online degree in paralegal studies that will combine with your experience to make you a valued member of the office legal team.  Other people have begun paralegal careers with an online certificate as a legal secretary, and built from there.

One of the areas where online certification programs through online vocational classes has worked well is in the area of computer programming and networking.  There are certified distance learning courses in computerized graphic arts; PC repair; and civil engineering technology.  Then there are the more specialized online training programs for established computer technicians in such specialties as C++ programming and Visual Basic programming.  In the graphics area, you can learn how to draft with AutoCAD or all about desktop publishing through an online school.  These types of skills that involve visual presentations work especially well in the distance learning environment because your school work can be sent immediately to the instructor.

There is solid evidence that in some instances vocational courses can be just as valuable as a college education.  A recent story in the Christian Science Monitor tells of a Georgia honors student with a 1350 SAT score who knew he wanted to go into computer science, so he went to local computer companies and asked what they wanted in an employee. "They told me I would be more marketable if I had practical technical training as opposed to theoretical academic training." He began taking specialized computer-networking classes while still in high school, landed a $52,000 job after graduating, and now, at 24, makes well past that.  

This scenario is being fueled by the online schools phenomenon.  Vocational training has replaced an expensive college education for many young Americans. Enrollment in technical education soared by 57 percent - from 9.6 million students in 1999 to 15.1 million in 2004, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

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