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Examples of Vocational Skills

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Vocational skills typically refers to occupations that you can learn with some basic training or on-the-job in lieu of a college degree. Electricians, truck drivers, hair stylists, medical records technicians and emergency medical technicians are some examples of occupations with vocational skills. It takes less time than a traditional four-year university to obtain a job with vocational skills, and can be learned in a few months to two years at a trade school.


Electricians install and maintain wiring and equipment for power, communications and computer systems. They conduct inspections to ensure compliance with building codes. You usually learn to be an electrician as an apprentice for four or five years. On-the-job training is supplemented with classroom instruction. Alternatively, you can take the classes at a community college or technical school. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistic says the 2020 median income for electricians was $56,900. Demand for electricians is expected to grow by 10 percent from 2018 to 2028, faster than the national average. Occupations that require similar vocational skills are elevator installer, HVAC technician and electronics technician.

Truck Driver

If you like to see new places, driving a tractor-trailer or large truck may appeal to you. The majority of "big rig" drivers transport goods on long-haul routes. Some tractor-trailer drivers work with a partner. By alternating driving duties, they keep downtime to a minimum and deliver loads faster. Truck drivers usually learn their trade at a professional truck-driving school where they learn to handle these huge trucks even in city traffic. Trainees also study how to care for their trucks, keep a log and follow federal laws that apply. A commercial driver's license (CDL) is required. Training usually takes three to six months. The BLS says the median pay for truck drivers in 2016 was $41,340. Job growth is expected to be about average in the next few years. Similar vocational skills are delivery driver, bus driver and taxi driver.

Hair Stylist

Earning a living by helping clients look and feel their best can be rewarding. Hairdressing definitely qualifies. Hair stylists consult with customers to determine what they want, and wash, cut, color and style the clients' hair. Stylists are also responsible for maintaining a clean work station and scheduling appointments. Hair stylists must be licensed in all 50 states. A high school diploma is required in some states. Hairdressers usually learn their skills in a licensed vocational school, but in some states they can train as an apprentice. Training takes about nine months. Students combine classes with supervised practice working on people's hair. The BLS says this is a rapidly growing occupation, with employment increasing by 15 percent from 2014 to 2024. Median pay in 2016 was $24,300. Similar vocational skills are barber, cosmetologist, aesthetician and manicurist.

Medical Records Technician

Medical records technicians are responsible for organizing patient information so it is secure, accessible and accurate. Training for this vocational skill is available through community colleges and technical schools. As a medical records technician, you convert patient data into codes according to classification systems for physicians, insurance companies and billing departments. A high school diploma or equivalent is required. Mastering this skill takes one to two years and may earn you an associate's degree. You study anatomy, physiology, medical terminology and coding systems. The BLS projects a 15 percent increase in demand from 2014 to 2024, making it a fast-growing occupations. The median pay was $38,040 in 2016. A similar vocational skill is medical transcriptionist.

Emergency Medical Technician

If you enjoy helping people, becoming an emergency medical technician might be the perfect vocational skill for you. EMTs administer first aid and provide basic medical care to sick and injured people until they are transported to a hospital. To become an EMT, you must have a high school diploma. CPR training is usually a perquisite as well. You train as an EMT at vocational schools, medical centers and community colleges. Paramedics are EMTs with additional training who can administer some medications and provide advanced care. The median 2016 salary for EMTs was $32,670. Projected growth in demand is 24 percent from 2014 to 2024, making EMTs one of the fastest growing occupations. Similar vocational skills are firefighter and physician's assistant.


Based in Atlanta, Georgia, William Adkins has been writing professionally since 2008. He writes about career, employment and job preparation issues. Adkins holds master's degrees in history and sociology with a focus on employment and labor from Georgia State University. He has conducted research sponsored by the National Science Foundation to develop career opportunities for people with disabilities.

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