Vocational education

Vocational education can be obtained in a vocational education institution or professional higher educational institution.

Vocational education provides the pupil with knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary for employment. Studies in a vocational education institution can be begun regardless of the earlier level of education, which means that educational opportunities are also available for people with unfinished basic education.

Beginning studies

Prior to beginning your vocational studies, you can find useful information about available specialties and educational institutions in the study opportunities database Kutseharidus.ee.

More precise information about study options, admission conditions and documents submitted by applicants can be obtained from the vocational educational institution of interest. If the vocational educational institution has joined the SAIS system of admissions applications, then you can submit your admissions application electronically in SAIS.

Types of vocational education

The types of vocational education are connected to the Estonian Qualifications Framework. The qualification standards that form the basis of vocational training curricula include the second to fifth qualification level; the respective levels are also reflected in the names of the vocational education types.

The volume of vocational education curricula is calculated in vocational education credit points. One credit point corresponds to 26 hours spent on studies. The yearly study volume is 60 credit points.

  • Level 2 vocational education – no requirement on the level of education – people with unfinished basic education can begin studies, the study volume is 15–120 credit points; the proportion of work practice and practical work in the curriculum is at least 70%.
  • Level 3 vocational education – no requirement on the level of education – people with unfinished basic education can begin studies, the study volume is 15–120 credit points; the proportion of work practice and practical work in the curriculum is at least 50%.
  • Level 4 vocational education – basic education required for beginning studies. Level 4 vocational training curricula are categorised as follows:
    • Vocational secondary education curricula – the graduate obtains secondary education in addition to a profession; as an exception, persons aged 22 and above with unfinished basic education may begin studies of vocational secondary education granted they have skills and knowledge corresponding to basic education; the study volume is 180 credit points, the proportion of work practice and practical work in the curriculum is at least 35%.
    • Initial training curricula – the study volume is 15–150 credit points, the proportion of work practice and practical work in the curriculum is at least 50%.
    • Continuing training curricula – a profession corresponding to qualification level 4 or corresponding knowledge and skills required in addition to basic education for beginning studies; the study volume is 15–60 credit points, the proportion of work practice and practical work in the curriculum is at least 50%.
  • Level 5 vocational training i.e. specialised vocational training – secondary education is required for beginning studies. Level 5 vocational training curricula are categorised as follows:
    • Initial training curricula – the study volume is 120–150 credit points, the proportion of work practice and practical work in the curriculum is at least 50%.
    • Continuing training curricula – a profession corresponding to qualification level 4 or 5 or corresponding knowledge and skills required in addition to secondary education for beginning studies; the study volume is 15–60 credit points, the proportion of work practice and practical work in the curriculum is at least 50%.

A vocational examination is normally taken to finish vocational training.

As of 1 September 2017, pupils are accepted only for curricula prepared in accordance with the new principles.

Until then, pupils may be accepted for curricula prepared in accordance with the former vocational education classification (vocational training without the requirement of basic education, vocational education on the basis of basic education, vocational secondary education, vocational training on the basis of secondary education).

More information about vocational education can you find on the home page of Ministry of Education and Research.

Last amended: 09-03-2016 00:00 | Compiled by: Ministry of Education and Research