So you want to start a vocational or trade school? You are probably an expert in your field, and might already have a lot of experience teaching it – however, the knowledge of your industry is not all you need in starting the business of a vocational school. A vocational school is in the education industry and you have to note this to drive your business to success.

Getting Started

Trade schools or vocational schools offer hands-on, practical training for professions that require a working knowledge of a particular field. There are many different types of trade schools, from carpentry and auto-repairs to make-up artistry and culinary schools. If you’re an expert in a specific trade, and you enjoy sharing your knowledge, you may want to find out how to open a trade school. In making this inquiry you will have to find answers to basic questions:

  • What subjects are you teaching?
  • What are the learning objectives for every subject and week?
  • How are those subjects taught? (lecture, labs, workshop or a combination)
  • What are the required learning materials?
  • How do you effectively assess student progress?
  • What will be the split between lecture and practice time?
  • How is practical work time credited and supervised by staff?
  • What skills are tested as practical application vs. written?
  • What is the best order in which to teach all the topics? and Why?
  • How many total hours is the program?
  • Is the clock hour amount enough to award a certificate or a diploma in the area of study?
  • How does each subject you teach prepare graduates for getting and keeping a job?

It is not enough to have an idea and a general plan. To start a successful vocational school you need lots of details sorted out – every clock hour must be accounted for in your curriculum. Steps to factor in your planning include:

Decide on the primary vocation you teach: It is expected that you will want to open a school in your field of expertise so you can evaluate every aspect of the trade school’s function. However, this does not limit your options. From a thorough investigation of the demand and applicability of a given trade in your area, you can find out what it take to run a trade school in that discipline. Develop a standardized curriculum and course catalog.

Know all certifications, permits, and endorsements you may need: Make detailed inquiry into certifications and permits relevant to the trade of interest. Know if there are partnerships and accreditations that will boost your profile in the field. Even if you cannot start with all, find the basic ones you need. You can work towards getting the rest as you grow. Furthermore, ensure your trade school is properly registered at the necessary government bureau.

Raise adequate start-up finance: You will need seed capital enough to get your trade-school project started and able to service your running costs until your expected revenue sets in.

Setup your facility: Ensure the location of your facility is easily accessible and provides a convenient learning environment. Ensure you are in compliance with local development laws, safety regulations, etc. As you purchase all necessary equipment. The types of equipment will depend on the trade you’re teaching.

Setup your HR structures: Draw up contracts for your staff as well as admission agreements for students. Do all within your means to select and hire educators qualified and experienced in the trade. Install basic first aid and security system with armed response to protect the school and everybody in it from crime, fire and other hazards.

Launch a coordinated marketing plan: This will involve your implementation of a broad marketing plan – 1) which may include advertising at schools, in newspapers, on billboards, local organizations, social media, etc. 2) Having a website and system with that offers scholarships, internships and job opportunities for students and alumni.

Enroll your first set of student and commence operations. remember to always keep in contact with trade unions to stay abreast of the latest developments in your field. You will have to commit yourself to the success of your enterprise with dedication and a willingness to work very very long days.


SEE ALSO: How to start a business without capital – 7 ways to think