Purpose. The purpose of the article is to study the experience of the development of rural vocational education since the reform and opening up, analyze and summarize the rapid development of rural vocational education in China in the context of rural human resources development. Methodology / approach. The methods adopted in this research are mainly literature research and thematic research. Through thematic research on vocational education-related fields since the reform and opening up, and analysis, research, and induction of policies, data, phenomena, and conclusions in various vocational education literatures, it forms an objective summary of the development of rural vocational education in China since the reform and opening up. Results. Reform and opening up is the most critical period for the rapid development of various industries in China, including vocational education. This paper studies the overall situation of the development of vocational education in China since the reform and opening up, the relationship between the development of rural vocational education and policy support at the national level is concluded, it demonstrates that rural vocational education is an important cornerstone of national construction and development, and the focus and characteristic of rural vocational education is to condense the Chinese experience of school-running characteristics, it also summarizes the main problems of rural vocational education in China. Originality / scientific novelty. A multi-dimensional analysis of the development of China’s rural vocational education in the 42 years of reform and opening up has been made, and conclusions have been drawn for the development of rural vocational education with Chinese characteristics. Practical value / implications. This paper analyzes the key factors for the success of rural vocational education in China through the study of China’s practice in the field of rural vocational education since the reform and opening up, it has certain reference significance for the future policy formulation and development of rural vocational education, promotes the development of rural human resources and increases the rate of urbanization.