Vocational and Technical Programs
Vocational and Technical Programs

If you are interested in learning a new skill or updating an existing one, consider a short-term program offered at a two-year community or junior college, a vocational or technical institution, or a private training center.

Ranging in length from several days to more than a year, these programs are designed to meet specific, practical training requirements, and are intended to prepare students for immediate employment. Hands-on learning activities are a major component of vocational and technical education. Common fields of study include data processing, computer programming, construction, automotive mechanics, drafting, and secretarial services.

Technical education requires students to learn concepts, theory, and design in addition to practical skills. These programs may be found not only at community and junior colleges, but also at some four-year colleges and universities. Please read Undergraduate Study for more information about community colleges and universities.

Technical and vocational programs lead to certificates of completion or diplomas, not to university degrees. Before you apply to a technical or vocational training program, check to make sure that your training program and any certificate or diploma you might earn will be recognized upon return to your home country. Most of all, it is important to verify that the college you are considering holds the appropriate type of accreditation. Accreditation is the system of recognition and quality assurance of educational institutions and programs in the United States. Accreditation of technical and vocational schools is carried out by national bodies, such as the Career College Association, or by the relevant divisions of institutional accrediting bodies. Specialized accrediting bodies also exist for some vocational fields such as allied health areas. See accreditation for information on its significance and a detailed explanation of institutional accrediting bodies and specialized accreditation.

Before you apply to a technical or vocational training program, find out as much information about it as possible. See the section "Factors to Consider" at the beginning of this chapter for further guidance on choosing a program. It is also wise to make sure that there are opportunities for employment in your country in the career that you are considering.

Many EducationUSA information and advising centers have information on technical and vocational education programs. In addition, further resources can be found under "Related Links " and in the bibliography at the end of this section.