The vocational education system in Estonia is regulated by the Vocational Educational Institutions Act (2013), which provides the basis for the establishment and maintenance of vocational educational institutions, the basis for the right to provide instruction, management and organisation of studies, state-commissioned education and financing, the rights and obligations of members of schools, and state supervision over the activities of schools.
Vocational education can be acquired either in vocational education or professional higher education institutions. At least one vocational education institution operates in every Estonian county. In 2019, there were 32 vocational educational institutions and six professional higher institutions active in Estonia that offer a range of 160 specialities.
Estonian is the primary language of instruction used in vocational training. Russian is also used as language of instruction in some vocational education institutions.
Vocational education in the arts is given at Tallinn Georg Ots Music College, Tartu Heino Eller Music High School, Tallinn Ballet School and Tartu Art School. Together with Tallinn Music College and Tartu Music High School, the Tallinn Music High School is a medium-level musical education institution. Tallinn Music High School provides professional music education alongside the general primary and secondary curriculum. This system ensures graduates the possibility of a career in music or in any other field. More than 90% of the graduates continue their studies in higher music education establishments in Estonia or abroad.
The aim of the Tallinn Ballet School is to train competitive ballet artists for the international labour market, who can present both traditional classical choreography and creations of different contemporary choreographers at a high professional level. The Ballet School is the only educational institution for professional ballet dancers in Estonia. One can study classical ballet at the basic school level, and classical ballet and contemporary dance at the upper secondary school level. The duration of study at the Tallinn Ballet School is eight years.
In February 2020, the construction of a united schoolhouse for the Tallinn Music High School, Tallinn Georg Ots Music College and Tallinn Ballet School began. The three schools will merge in 2022 as a political decision of the former government.
The Tartu Art School is the mediator of information, ideas and skills concerning design and visual art specialties in Estonia. As a developer in the field of art in Tartu, the school values both innovative approach and cultural consistency.
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