For Students and Parents

New Jersey county vocational-technical schools prepare all types of high school students for careers and college.

Spend part of your school day pursuing your passion, while taking the academic courses required for your NJ high school diploma and college admissions.

Get more out of high school, so you can head to college or launch your career with a head start on success!

More than 33,000 students at NJ county vocational-technical high schools are as diverse as their career aspirations.  

They are exploring careers as dancers and doctors, engineers and electricians, chefs and computer programmers, physicists and plumbers, automotive technicians and architects, and in the dozens of other career programs offered at our schools.

Find Your School to see what programs are offered in your county.


Get More Out Of High School

Our students understand how classroom learning relates to their interests and future careers.  

They learn the workplace skills that all employers value, like teamwork, problem-solving, responsibility and creative thinking.

And thanks to our many business and higher education partners, they get real-world work experiences and opportunities to earn college credits.


All Types Of Programs For All Types Of Students

Each county vocational-technical school district offers a unique mix of career and academic programs.

  • State-of-the-art technical training programs for students who want to get good jobs after high school, continue their technical training, or go on earn a college degree.

    Graduates become chefs, graphic designers, auto technicians, emergency first responders, health care providers, construction trades professionals, and small business owners.
  • Students can earn industry certifications and state licenses, which provide a significant edge in the job market or when pursuing a college degree or further training.
  • Many districts offer career academies for talented students in areas like engineering, visual and performing arts, health sciences, and information technology.

    These small schools (or programs within larger schools) offer rigorous academics and a strong career focus to give students a jump start on college credits and industry certifications. Academy graduates often go on to study at top-level colleges or universities.
  • Students with disabilities are often mainstreamed in regular career programs, but thanks to our many local business partners, they also have special opportunities to train for jobs at supermarkets, florists, and other services businesses.

    When they graduate from high school, they are prepared for success in the real-world workplace.

Learn about the programs available at the vocational-technical high school in your county. Find your school.


FAQs About NJ County Vocational-Technical Schools For Parents And High School Students

Are county vocational-technical schools free public schools?

Yes.  In New Jersey, county vocational-technical schools are a county-wide shared service funded by county Boards of Freeholders, local taxes, and state and federal aid.

No tuition or transportation fees are charged to parents.

Every student has the legal right to apply for admission to the county vocational-technical school in his or her county of residence.  If accepted, the student’s home school district is required by law to pay any tuition charged by the vocational-technical school and to provide transportation for the student. (NJSA 18A:54-20.1)

Can my child go to college if he or she attends a county vocational-technical school?

Absolutely!  Today’s county vocational-technical schools prepare students for college and careers.

Statewide, more than 70 percent of county vocational-technical school graduates pursue post-secondary studies at colleges, universities or advanced technical schools.

College admissions officers know about the high-quality education that our schools provide, and many of our graduates are accepted at prestigious and highly-competitive colleges and universities.

Thanks to our schools’ partnerships with many colleges and universities, many of our students can jump-start their higher education by attending college classes or earning college credits while still in high school.  This enriches their educational experiences, and can also reduce the time and cost of earning a college degree.

Do county vocational schools offer the same academic courses as traditional high schools?

Yes.  Students graduating from NJ county vocational-technical schools earn the same diploma as all other high school graduates in the state.

The difference is that our schools also offer exciting programs for students with a wide range of interests and abilities.

County vocational-technical schools have high graduation rates and low drop-out rates.  On average, our students score higher on the state high school graduation test than students in traditional high schools.  Several of the specialized career academies are among the highest-performing high schools in the state.

The classes are small, and in many programs, students have the opportunity to earn college credits and industry certifications while still in high school.

Most of the district schools are full-time high schools that integrate career and technical education programs with a full range of academic and extra-curricular offerings, including AP and honors courses.

Students enrolled in shared-time programs take most of their academic courses at their home high school.

Who attends county vocational-technical schools?

More than 33,000 secondary school students from all types of backgrounds and with all types of career aspirations are currently enrolled in NJ county vocational-technical schools.

The career and technical education, hands-on learning and rigorous academics that the schools offer is a choice for students of all abilities.  Research shows that most young people learn best when the relationship between what they are studying and its relevance to their lives and career goals is clear.

Career academy programs are a good option for highly-motivated students seeking a challenging academic program with a specific career focus

What kinds of programs do New Jersey county vocational-technical schools offer?

Today’s county vocational-technical schools are very different from the “trade schools” of the past.  

The schools offer rigorous, hands-on learning opportunities using state-of-the art technology that prepares all types of students for college and careers in a wide variety of fields.

All counties offer full-time or shared-time career and technical education programs that prepare students for careers in a broad range of fields such as law enforcement, construction trades, culinary arts, graphic design, health careers, auto technology and cosmetology.  New program areas include advanced manufacturing, computer-assisted design (CAD), digital media, agriculatural scienceds, and sustainability.

Many counties have advanced, specialized career academies in fields like engineering, information technology, business and finance, health sciences and visual and performing arts.

Students with disabilities are mainstreamed in many programs, and may also be placed in specialized programs for career exploration, construction trades, culinary arts, retail operations, and other areas that prepare them for success in real-world jobs.

Do county vocational-technical schools have extra-curricular activities?

Yes.  All of our full-time schools offer a range of activities such as Student Council, yearbook, drama club, music groups, language clubs, community service clubs and National Honor Society.  They also sponsor student career and technical organizations, like Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA), and SkillsUSA.

Can my child participate in high school sports if he or she attends a county-vocational-technical school?

Yes.

Many full-time county vocational-technical schools have their own teams in a variety of sports; but if the county vocational-technical school does not offer sports, or the particular sport your child is involved with, a student is generally permitted to try out for his or her home he high school team.

Specific sports participation issues are addressed on a case-by-case basis by the principals of the two high schools, and generally depend on whether a student’s county vocational-technical school schedule can accommodate the practice and game schedule of the sports program in the home district.  Transportation is not provided to home high school sports.

How does my child apply to a county vocational-technical school?

The application process varies by county and program.

To get started, contact your child’s guidance counselor and go to Find My School for more information about the vocational-technical school programs in your county.

For four-year, full-time programs, applications must be submitted in the fall of eighth grade. Start early — districts hold open-house sessions in the fall.  Attending an open house may be a mandatory requirement for application.

For half-day shared-time programs for grades 11 and 12, students may apply during their sophomore or junior year of high school.

Each county vocational-technical school board of education has its own admissions policy, which is posted on the district website.  The admissions process is designed to ensure that student abilities and needs are well matched with program offerings, and that the county’s overall population is well represented.  

By law, the county district admissions policy must provide equal educational opportunity without regard to race, ethnicity, gender, religion, disability, or economic status.

Admissions decisions may consider a student’s grades, standardized test scores, attendance, and disciplinary record.  In some districts, an admissions test and/or an interview may also be required, and most performing arts programs require an audition.

21st century career and technical training programs require students to meet both academic and industry standards, including state certification or licensing tests.   All industries today – from cosmetology to biotechnology – demand advanced technical skills in their employees.

Students must be proficient in math and language arts, and they should be willing to work hard.

Some of the most rigorous programs, such as high-tech career academies and performing arts programs, are designed for highly-motivated students who are already focused on a career goal, and admission can be very competitive.

For more information on the admissions requirements for the school in your county: Find my School.