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Tech schools often draw flak from people who don’t understand what they are and what kind of education they can offer a young person starting a new career. Watching the Speed channel will pepper you with ads for Lincoln Tech’s automotive and welding degrees, and I wonder if that isn’t a bad way to go nowadays.

Though it was for an entirely different field, I went to a vocational school myself, and the education isn’t bad. Most of these schools aim to give you what you need to get out the door and get a job in that area.  In any economy, having a marketable skill can’t be a negative — be it mechanics or cooking, at least you can do something other than sit on your ass.

What do you think? Is the vocational/tech school model still relevant to today’s workforce? Let us know in comments.

Lincoln Educational Services [Website]


23 Responses to Hot or Not? Vocational Schools

  1. drago says:

    The “trades” will always be secure jobs. You can’t outsource a mechanic, plumber, or electrician.

    But I have no idea if getting a certification from one of these schools is any better than apprenticing with an established contractor (in regards to earnings power).

  2. Old Coot says:

    Can be hot if legit. When I was in high school, at least one “shop” class (wood, metal, auto, print, etc.) was a requirement of graduation. Now with kids in public schools, I see none of those options. I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but we need a whole bunch of youngsters who know how to build and repair things; legitimate and well run tech and vocational schools seem to be a viable way to travel down a non-college path towards success in life.

  3. Jim M says:

    A friend from Austria trained there to be a waiter. 4 years! The first year he swept and washed. When he finished he could set up and manage a four star restaurant starting from an empty room.
    Now THAT’S vocational training. What we get in North America is just pre-apprenticeship training. A mere whisper of the real thing.

  4. zack says:

    oh boy.
    i just wrote out a whole long comment on my own experience with a tech/vocational school, and then your website auto-refreshed (i’m assuming to give me a new ad), and my two paragraphs were lost.

    Seems like a bad way to encourage discourse if there’s a time-limit on trying to tender a response. maybe change something?

    oh well.

  5. Bart'sDad says:

    # zack Says:
    January 19th, 2009 at 11:40 am

    oh boy.
    i just wrote out a whole long comment on my own experience with a tech/vocational school, and then your website auto-refreshed (i’m assuming to give me a new ad), and my two paragraphs were lost.

    Seems like a bad way to encourage discourse if there’s a time-limit on trying to tender a response. maybe change something?

    oh well.

    Lots to say here but as long as that STUPID feature is on, its not worth my time.

  6. Joe says:

    Indeed, how many complaints will it take before auto refresh is either removed or at least drastically slowed?

  7. PutnamEco says:

    Just leave a browser window open with toolmongers homepage on it. Eventually, if everyone does this, their bandwidth costs will force someone to notice.
    You could also set your desktop for active content and leave toolmongers homepage as your wallpaper.

    In a way it can be a kind of neat feature, if the homepage is always up you’ll know very quickly when there is new content posted.

  8. Grobian says:

    Can’t possibly be worth less than my English Lit BA, and probably a hell of a lot cheaper. Drawbacks? Less pussy. YMMV.

    I agree that the auto-refresh is incredibly annoying. The idea is to discourage comments, I assume.

  9. Bob The Drywall Guy says:

    The auto-refresh was a pretty bad move. But I’m sure they’ll fix it…

    Vocational schools are about to become critical up here in Canada… we’re projected to be short 2 million qualified tradespersons by 2015.

  10. Angelo says:

    That stupid auto refresh function makes no sense. Strip it out! It’s not like the content of the site isn’t 85% ads anyway. It’s been like this as long as I’ve read Toolmonger, which is probably about a year. Some corporate moron probably has a job dedicated to keeping it…

    I can’t tell you how many comments I’ve lost. Oh s#@$, better hit submit befor…

  11. aaron says:


    that said, i never had shop class as a kid (damn parochial schooling) and have missed it ever since.

    vocational schools are a big +.

  12. heywood says:

    they are a great value to the world. honestly I think that it should become a new movement in this country, what with so many kids in this country not learning how to do the most simple of tasks and our GDP including less and less manufactured products every year.

    I believe that kids need to have more requirements towards learning a physical skill and keeping physically active. Without this, we will end up with more kids than ever who don’t have any idea how to get along on their own; a sad state of affairs in my book.

    I am an electrician and would probably end it all if I couldn’t work with my hands every day…it’s essential.

  13. Coach James says:

    I am a high school teacher. If I could do things over, I would go to community college and learn to be an electrician, mechanic or appliance repairman or join the military. I like working with my hands in welding, carpentry, etc. and being outside. I would also get blamed for only the things I can control like not wiring a house correctly instead of taking heat for a bunch of lazy “students” that have no willingness to learn a trade or anything else.

    I think vocational schools are great for students that do not want to go to college and for many of those that do. Tradesmen contribute greatly to our society and we need them. Do we really need more sociology, ethnic studies and and gender studies majors? We have too many 18 year olds going to college for no other reason than going to college and coming out with a degree that prepares them for nothing.

    I’m seriously considering leaving teaching to take a job doing HVAC or appliance repair. Our community college has programs for both as well as electricians, mechanics, plumbing and a few others. Most of the hours are convenient and the price is a lot less than at a four year school.

  14. koba says:

    Coach James, you should consider contacting your local Union in regards to a new career. Becoming a Union Pipefitter, Plumber, Electrician, or HVAC tech is an extremely good way to make a living. The education is second to none, Union members usually get free continuing education classes, and you are paid a fair wage while you are in training. A five year apprenticeship can be tough to support a family through, but it can be done. Right now I work alongside a 3rd year apprentice with a teaching degree; many incoming apprentices in the skilled trades have a college degree or at least some college education.

  15. Brau says:

    Lukewarm. School is rarely necessary for people who REALLY want to learn. As an employer who has hired personnel from accredited tech schools and some off the street, I have found it is always the person who wants to learn who excels. Tech schools can be a major help to the eager and virtually nothing to the unmotivated. Also, too often these vocational “students” get used to spending most of their time sitting on their butt and seem to forget how to work.

  16. MarkH says:

    Damn, I got bit by the auto refresh also. Does anybody know how much these tech schools usually charge, and how long the classes go on for?

  17. MarkH says:

    A German co-worker was telling me how things were done in Germany. At the high school level, you either go into an academic or vocational track. So you get a lot of workers with really good training. He claims that’s the manufacturing advantage they have, a big pool of well-trained technicians. Since these are not considered the rejects of the college track, there is a lot of pride involved in the learning and work.

  18. jeff says:

    A friend pointed me to a video of Mike Rowe’s take on a related topic…

    America’s view on blue collar.

  19. jeff says:

    Takes him awhile to get to the point though so be patient.

  20. bender says:

    either vocational school or apprenticeship are definitely worthwhile. I made the mistake of going to university and getting a degree because it’s what was expected of me. Everybody in my family assumed I would, and there was no discussion about trades and skilled labour.

    Well after getting my degree in a semi-useful social science field, I was surprised to learn that getting a job was anything but guaranteed. Way different from when my parents were in school, or from the impression my school gave me. Most jobs I could get were around minimum wage, and I could’ve gotten them straight out of high school. If I had to do it all over again, I would have started a youth apprenticeship in high school and continued on from there. By now, I’d have a good career rather than searching for a better job to come along.

    I’m actually doing what many others are doing– taking courses in the skilled trades, building up my skills, and hopefully landing an apprenticeship. The question now is what trade… hmm….

  21. bobk says:

    Semi-Hot, although I would also agree with the comments that in essence, state that bottom line, the desire to achieve is more important than any form of formal education.

    The biggest advantage that a degree / certificate / whatever provides is essentially proof that a) you know the basics involved in your career of choice, and b) you’ve got the dogged persistence required to get through the hurdles involved ( a skill that comes in handy daily during your career).

    I got a college degree in IT (back in the early 80’s) and had, say, 20 years of a great career. However, for the last few years, my cohorts and I have survived (or not) one layoff after another, been through one outsourcing and are living in the expectation of another. For probably 5 years, I haven’t recommended my chosen career to anyone that asked my opinion.

    Try to choose a career that can’t be sent offshore. So far, that seems to be the mechanical trades. Get the necessary degree / certificate / apprenticeship / whatever will be required for an employer to take you seriously.


  22. Codemonkey says:

    meta http-equiv=”refresh” content=”300″


  23. I agree, there is a lot of unaccredited schools out there that just give out crap degrees. But there are also a lot of great schools for trades. My husband worked for UTI corporate and the training there is excellent and there are a lot of job opportunities as well when you graduate. I think people need to do their research thoroughly before going to a trade school.

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