IT Help Desk Jobs: Vocational Training

By Tyler Regas

Depending on your long-term goals, you may consider vocational training to get an IT help desk job. Vocation training differs from higher education in that you generally learn a skill in a procedural manner from hands‐on practice taught by skilled practitioners. Higher education aims to teach you how to understand the fundamental structure of broader disciplines.

Think of it like the difference between someone teaching you how to fish using a fishing pole and common accessories versus someone teaching you the history, theory, and fundamentals of fishing and then expecting you to figure out how to do it on your own.

It’s the difference between a taught skill and a skill developed through critical thinking based on knowledge. You could start working with a blacksmith to learn the trade of metalworking and you will learn a lot, but you won’t have a deeper understanding of how metal alloys are made or work, how to use math to modify alloys, or the fundamental chemical processes taking place and what the result might be.

This comparison may suggest that you won’t learn as much from a vocational program as from a “real” college program, but the Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTE) doesn’t believe that. As quoted from the ACTE website regarding post‐secondary training, the following suggests otherwise:

  • Four out of 5 secondary CTE graduates who pursued postsecondary education after high school had earned a credential or were still enrolled two years later.

  • A person with a CTE‐related associate degree or credential will earn on average between $4,000 and $19,000 more a year than a person with a humanities associate degree.

  • Twenty‐seven percent of people with less than an associate degree, including licenses and certificates, earn more than the average bachelor degree recipient.

The last two points are most telling. From ACTE’s research, someone who has earned credentials from a vocational training program can significantly increase his annual pay over that of an individual who has a degree from a two‐year course. What’s even more telling is, regarding the last point, that a large percentage of people who do not have college educations earn more than those who have achieved a bachelor’s degree. Isn’t that interesting!?

That extra earning potential comes from collected skill and expertise, or what used to be called onthejob training. Apprenticeships have all but disappeared from the American job landscape and have been replaced by postsecondary education centers like ITT Technical Institute and Brandman University and hundreds of smaller, more localized programs all over the United States.

It may seem cheesy, but Career and Technical Education (CTE) is a valid form of education and frequently takes less time than college programs that teach much the same thing. One huge bonus is that this form of education often costs a great deal less while still being able to draw from the same federal support resources for financial assistance and grants. In addition, many of the schools now offer both online and on‐campus courses, and sometimes a mix of both.