Vocational Degrees, Careers, Salaries

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A vocational degree is a program that trains you to develop a particular skill set without a bachelor’s degree. Vocational training, which can range between a certificate or an associate’s degree, can be completed in less time, often between just a few months to one year, depending on the program. Why? Because vocational degrees don’t require you to take general education courses like English, math, history, or science and are more geared to teaching you the skills you need for a career.

Once you earn your vocational degree and your license, you’ll be qualified to enter the workforce for the specialization you studied. Below, you’ll find more details on the various types of vocational degrees you can pursue.

Specializations You Can Pursue With Vocational Degrees

The following are several different kinds of vocational degrees that you can receive training and licensure in, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The amount of time it takes to complete the training varies by school. There may also be specific state requirements you may be expected to follow. All job growth projections below are from 2016 to 2026.

Automotive Technician

Also known as a mechanic, automotive technicians inspect, maintain and repair vehicles. They earn an average salary of $39,550, and the projected job outlook is about 6%.


Carpenters construct and repair residential and commercial structures from wood and other materials. They earn an average salary of $45,170 and have a projected job growth rate of 8%.


Also known as beauty school, you can earn a cosmetology certificate in hairstyling, manicuring, pedicuring, and facials. The projected job growth rate is a strong 13%, and they earn an average salary of $24,900.

Culinary Arts

Want to be a chef or cook at a restaurant? In addition to cooking meals, you might also get the opportunity to become the head chef/cook and manage kitchen staff as well as other food-related operations. The average salary is $45,950, and the job growth rate is projected to grow 10%.

Dental Assistant Training

Dental assistants help dentists provide care to patients, such as by performing x-rays, cleaning teeth, and keeping records of dental treatments and appointments. They earn an average salary of $37,630. The job growth outlook is projected to grow 19%.

Electrician Certification

Electricians install, maintain, and repair electrical power and lighting in homes and businesses.. They receive an average salary of $54,110, and the projected job growth rate is 9%.

HVAC Certification

HVAC ( Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) professionals install, maintain, and repair refrigeration, cooling, and ventilation systems. They earn an average salary of $47,080, and the projected job growth rate is 15%.

Licensed Vocational Nursing (LVN)

LVNs provide basic nursing care to keep patients comfortable and monitor their overall health. They work under the direction of registered nurses and doctors. The average salary is $45,030, and the projected job growth rate is 12%.

Massage Therapy

Massage therapists provide relief to clients’ sore muscles and pains, along with helping them heal injuries and relieve stress. They earn an average salary of $39,990, and the projected outlook is extremely strong at 26%, which is much faster than average.


Plumbers and pipefitters install, inspect, and repair piping systems in homes and businesses. Average pay is about $52,590, and the projected job growth is much faster than average at 16%.

Real Estate

Real estate agents help clients buy, sell, or rent their properties. On average, they earn an annual salary of $47,880. This career has a projected job growth rate of 6%.

Truck Driving

Truck drivers often drive 18-wheeler trucks to transport goods from one location to another. The projected job growth rate is 6%, and they earn an average salary of $42,480 per year.

Your Future in A Vocational Career

If you aren’t interested in pursuing a bachelor’s degree, a vocational degree is an excellent alternative. There is a wide variety of careers to choose from based on what you are passionate about. Not only will it enable you to focus on a particular set of skills to become a specialist in your career field, but you’ll also get to start working sooner as well.

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