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Career Vocational Training

Vocational Training is a combination of classroom, practical instruction, and often real-life experience which prepares students for a career or career-jumpstart in a specific trade or occupation.  In a vocational training program, you will gain the experience and credentials necessary to work in a wide variety of occupations, from carpentry to mechanics to interior design. Besides being a gateway to skilled employment, vocational training can often be a preliminary step to achieving additional advanced training or entering a college degree program in the future.


Tech Prep Education
Tech Prep programs are based on a partnership between high schools and colleges/universities to help prepare students for high tech careers in areas such as engineering, technology, applied science, health, and applied economics, and to improve the academic success of vocational students.  Tech Prep combines at least two years of high school and two years of postsecondary education.   It is designed to help students gain both academic knowledge and technical skills, and typically leads to either a certificate or an associate’s degree in a specific career field.

At Thurston High School, we partner with Lane Community College through High School Connections and College Now programs.  Course work for which you may earn both high school and college credit includes Business, Family and Consumer Studies, Technology, and Spanish, as listed in the current Curriculum Guide.  Check with your counselor for more information about participating in Tech Prep programs.

Another resource which might help you coordinate both high school and postsecondary vocational training is the Career Clusters & Program/Pathways page, sponsored by Lane Education Service District.   This site has career videos to download, as well as direct links to Tech Prep programs and Lane Community College course information.


Postsecondary Trade Schools
These search sites help you locate trade schools by field of study and location: Trade Schools
Institutions listed include mechanical and automotive schools, business schools, culinary schools, art and design schools, diving schools, cosmetology schools, education programs, health care schools, legal and criminal justice schools, schools focusing on occupations in the media, real estate schools, technology schools, and travel and tourism schools. These trade schools offer diplomas or certificates that employers nationwide will accept. They also provide their students with assistance in meeting necessary licensing requirements.


Apprenticeships combine on-the-job training with classroom instruction, and typically take two to four years to complete. Competition for available slots is often fierce because apprentices pay nothing for their education, and are actually paid for the hours they spend learning on the job.  In addition, apprentices typically command relatively high salaries when they become journey workers.

Good resources to locate an open apprenticeship program include networking with people you know who work in an apprenticed trade, contacting Lane Community College Apprenticeship Training Program, checking the Oregon State Apprenticeship & Training website, calling trade union offices, and contact related professional associations.  Some apprenticeship programs also advertise available openings in the newspaper, on job boards, or with state job services.

Successfully completing basic classes in English, math, and science is considered essential for all applicants to apprenticeship programs, and most apprenticeships require a high school diploma or GED. In addition, taking special interest classes may help demonstrate an early aptitude, skills development, and improve your standing in the application process, as well.


Community Colleges
Community colleges are an affordable option for career training, and most offer many vocational training programs. Locally, in addition to Associate Degree plans, Lane Community College offers Career Pathways Certificates through the Career Pathways Program, and each of the certificate may be applied toward earning an Associate of Applied Science degree.  The Career Pathways Certificate of Completion allows students to identify and develop a specific technical skills to help them qualify for a job, enhance their current degree, or advance in their current field of employment.  You may also consider attending a community college to earn an Associate or Direct Transfer Degree, which could be applied toward Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science studies at a four-year institution.


Employer-Provided Training
Many employers encourage their employees to take additional training, both on and off the job.  Seeking out and taking advantage of this type of training can increase your job satisfaction and help your career move forward.  Training programs help you take on more complex challenges, test your skills, and give you an opportunity to be rewarded for your efforts.  Possible training opportunities may include completing advanced certifications, taking part in adult-ed or continuing education courses, or earning a college degree.  In many industries, you can easily move into management and supervisory careers with additional training.  It is well worth looking ahead — even before you are hired — to see if this might be a future option for you.

Sourced from: Lane Community College’s Website; Thurston High School Curriculum Handbook; and


Private Career Schools 
The State of Oregon has private schools that offer specialized training and certificate opportunities for students with specific career focuses, in fields as diverse as computer technology, cosmetology, health care, real estate and business. The HECC Private Career School licensing unit serves as the state regulator that licenses private career schools to operate in this state. Without approval from the HECC, a school cannot legally operate in our state, or offer valid certificates to Oregonians. Click here for a list of schools.