How To Start a Vocational School


When you open a new school, you’re really starting a new business. You couldn’t go to a banker and ask for business start-up funds without having a written and detailed business plan. The same is true if you want to start a school and need approval from your State’s Approval or Licensure Agency. All State Approval Agencies want to see that an organization has a well thought out and researched strategic plan before it is willing to grant an approval. After all they are responsible for student protection as well as a quality assurance. So it should be of no surprise that most applications ask the very same questions that one has to answer when writing a business plan.


A Development Process


A good business plan and/or application to your State’s Postsecondary Approval Agency can be seen as using a development process. The point of using a development process is to succeed at “product development” or in this case establishing a vocational school. You should want to start a private career school that meets students’ needs in the field or profession you are targeting. You are naturally also going to want to do this in the right time frame and at the right cost, in a way that maximizes your financial return on your investment. Since establishing a vocational school is inherently complex and often risky, and since the push for financial return often mandates speedy development, the process should be geared to providing a framework and specific tools for efficiently and predictably reaching your goals.


The Steps

The steps that I would recommend you follow are:

Step 1:

Ask yourself the following questions

• Why do you want to start a school?

• Who will you serve and what will you offer that’s valuable and marketable?

• How will your school be organized?

• Is your school financially sound and stable?

• How will your school operate day to day?

• Who will teach in your school?

• How will your operating procedures ensure that students are always informed and protected?

• How will you use graduate follow-up data (job placement) to improve your programs?

Step 2:
Organize the information for your business plan. Include information on you and your partners, the course outlines, the type of students that you would be targeting, an analysis of the area you want to establish the school, other schools of the same type in the area, qualifications of faculty needed to teach the courses you are intended to offer and potential risk.

Step 3:
Write an executive summary. This might be the first section of the plan, a description of all the elements covered in more detail later.

Step 4:
Describe your company. Spell out the purpose of your school. Write a mission statement. Talk about the skills you and your management team have.

Step 5:
Explain your program offerings. Detail how you will teach them. Analyze the costs associated with this process. List your supply sources for equipment and books etc.

Step 6:
Talk about the market you’re entering. Discuss general trends in the industry (Medical or IT perhaps). Include details about the market segment you are pursuing, the niche you are targeting and your target customer/student; provide demographics on your potential customers/students. Establish a need for the program by researching the demographics of the area and the job placement possibilities for your graduates. Analyze your competition.

Step 7:
Describe your admission/marketing plan. Explain how you will generate enrollment through advertising, promotion and public relations. Estimate all costs conservatively.

Step 8:
Detail your yearly revenue projections and your expenses.


I believe the best way to realize your vision is to write a thorough business plan. I have assisted many clients to formulate their business plans thereby making the task of applying for licensure a great deal easier. A well written business plan for a college or school will incorporate many of the items that are required for a successful application. If you need a business plan with sizzle or want to start the application to your State’s Approval Agency, please contact me or call me at 818-349-3645 and we can discuss how to get started. I can help take your ideas and strategies and put them down on paper in a well thought-out road map for success.

How To Start a Vocational School


When you open a new school, you’re really starting a new business. You couldn’t go to a banker and ask for business start-up funds without having a written and detailed business plan. The same is true if you want to start a school and need approval from your State’s Approval or Licensure Agency. All State Approval Agencies want to see that an organization has a well thought out and researched strategic plan before it is willing to grant an approval. After all they are responsible for student protection as well as a quality assurance. So it should be of no surprise that most applications ask the very same questions that one has to answer when writing a business plan.


A Development Process


A good business plan and/or application to your State’s Postsecondary Approval Agency can be seen as using a development process. The point of using a development process is to succeed at “product development” or in this case establishing a vocational school. You should want to start a private career school that meets students’ needs in the field or profession you are targeting. You are naturally also going to want to do this in the right time frame and at the right cost, in a way that maximizes your financial return on your investment. Since establishing a vocational school is inherently complex and often risky, and since the push for financial return often mandates speedy development, the process should be geared to providing a framework and specific tools for efficiently and predictably reaching your goals.


The Steps

The steps that I would recommend you follow are:

Step 1:

Ask yourself the following questions

• Why do you want to start a school?

• Who will you serve and what will you offer that’s valuable and marketable?

• How will your school be organized?

• Is your school financially sound and stable?

• How will your school operate day to day?

• Who will teach in your school?

• How will your operating procedures ensure that students are always informed and protected?

• How will you use graduate follow-up data (job placement) to improve your programs?

Step 2:
Organize the information for your business plan. Include information on you and your partners, the course outlines, the type of students that you would be targeting, an analysis of the area you want to establish the school, other schools of the same type in the area, qualifications of faculty needed to teach the courses you are intended to offer and potential risk.

Step 3:
Write an executive summary. This might be the first section of the plan, a description of all the elements covered in more detail later.

Step 4:
Describe your company. Spell out the purpose of your school. Write a mission statement. Talk about the skills you and your management team have.

Step 5:
Explain your program offerings. Detail how you will teach them. Analyze the costs associated with this process. List your supply sources for equipment and books etc.

Step 6:
Talk about the market you’re entering. Discuss general trends in the industry (Medical or IT perhaps). Include details about the market segment you are pursuing, the niche you are targeting and your target customer/student; provide demographics on your potential customers/students. Establish a need for the program by researching the demographics of the area and the job placement possibilities for your graduates. Analyze your competition.

Step 7:
Describe your admission/marketing plan. Explain how you will generate enrollment through advertising, promotion and public relations. Estimate all costs conservatively.

Step 8:
Detail your yearly revenue projections and your expenses.


I believe the best way to realize your vision is to write a thorough business plan. I have assisted many clients to formulate their business plans thereby making the task of applying for licensure a great deal easier. A well written business plan for a college or school will incorporate many of the items that are required for a successful application. If you need a business plan with sizzle or want to start the application to your State’s Approval Agency, please contact me or call me at 818-349-3645 and we can discuss how to get started. I can help take your ideas and strategies and put them down on paper in a well thought-out road map for success.