Vocational schools serve a distinctive purpose as they provide short-term training that prepares students to enter the workforce in a field in demand in their local community or region. These schools are often referred to as technical schools and are usually fully accredited, which allows students to receive financial aid when attending if they qualify. If there's a need in your community or region for certain skills or trades that aren't currently taught, you can establish a school to teach them if you know how to start a vocational school.
Determine what programs you will offer. One of the first things that you must do is establish what programs and classes you will teach at your vocational school. While you may have some notion of what you want to offer, it's always best to consult with local businesses to determine what programs they would find beneficial. Not only does this generate support for your vocational school, but some businesses may be interested in monetarily sponsoring a particular program since essentially it will be training their future employees.
Find a facility. The facility size for a vocational school depends upon the number of programs and classes you will offer as well as how many students you will serve. Once you've determined what programs will be part of your school, you can then determine how much space will be needed to adequately teach and train students in each program. By adding the space for each program together along with space for the office and administrative sides of your vocational school, you can know what type of facility to lease, purchase or build.
Establish your school as a private or public institution. Public vocational schools get funding from the local or state government to supplement the cost of their programs while private schools must raise the funds themselves. In order to be considered a public school, you'll need to get approval from the Board of Regents or other higher education authority in your state. Otherwise, you will be considered a private institution.
Hire staff and faculty. A number of people will be needed to run and operate your vocational school as many tasks will need to be done on a daily basis. Faculty will be needed to teach in the classroom and in each program, while support staff will be needed to recruit students, aid students with the financial aid process, collect payments, buy supplies and much more.
Buy equipment needed for each program. You will need to purchase equipment for the different programs you will be offering at your vocational school so students have the right tools to learn. For example, for an auto mechanics program at your vocational school you will need to provide car lifts, power tools, parts to repair vehicles and diagnostic tools.
Get accreditation. It is important that your vocational school is fully accredited in order for your students to qualify for and receive financial aid. There are regional accrediting organizations throughout the United States that can accredit your school and your programs. Generally, the accreditation process is completed by three to five appointed individuals who come to your school, visit with students and faculty, and review the curriculum.
Advertise and market the vocational school. Once you've got everything in place at your vocational school, you can advertise and market the training and education you provide.
- You may find it more successful to be recognized as a public institution by your state's higher education authority if you are in partnership with an already-established public vocational school.
- You will need to set in advance your costs for students to attend your school as well as what policies govern students while they are there.
Allison Dodge has been a writer since 2005, specializing in education, careers, health and travel. She has worked at educational institutions for more than 10 years. Dodge has a master's degree in education administration.