Vocational careers are careers that do not necessarily involve academic education but rather are started through hands-on learning in places such as community colleges and through apprenticeships. They require specialization but do not require the years of training and taking on debt that academic education does. What's more, job prospects for the vocationally qualified are often more clear-cut than are those for the academically qualified.
An electrician's job is to install and maintain electrical systems. This can include electricity in houses, in commercial offices, on cars and even on airplanes. Most electricians, however, specialize in either residential installation or industrial installation.
Electricians do not just install electrical systems, either--they are also in charge of maintaining them after the fact. An electrician can therefore expect to spend a large amount of his career going from house to house or building to building and fixing problems. Electricians are usually trained through apprenticeship programs, and once they are qualified they make an average of $23 an hour in 2010.
While electricians put the wiring in buildings, it is the carpenters who put them together. This is not the only thing carpenters work on, though--indeed, carpenters work on a wide variety of projects, from large-scale bridges to smaller-scale cabinets and chairs. The common thread through all of these, though, is the ability to put things together using a wide variety of materials.
Carpenters learn their trades through on-the-job training, apprenticeships and community college programs. Combinations of these are also common. In 2010, the job outlook for carpenters was average compared with all other occupations, and carpenters were making an average of between $15 and $20 an hour.
Personal Appearance Workers
A completely different kind of vocational career is that of personal appearance workers. Personal appearance workers work on their clients' hair, body and nails to improve their appearance. Hairdressers are included in this category, as are makeup artists, manicurists and pedicurists.
Higher-end, more lucrative personal appearance work requires a qualification from a trade school or community college, while employment in the rest of the industry is trained for on the job.
The personal appearance industry is growing faster than average as of 2010, which means opportunities are easier to come by. In 2010, nail workers earned around $9.50 an hour while hairdressers and barbers made between $7 and $20 an hour. In the middle were the makeup artists, who made around $14 an hour.