What Is Career and Technical Education (CTE)?

Career technical education (CTE) is a set of courses that combines academic, technical and occupational knowledge to equip students with the best chances of forging a successful career path.

Many CTE meaning programs provide real-world hands-on training to prepare students for post-graduation employment or post-secondary education.

Depending on the program, students can choose from a full load of regular or preparatory classes with over a thousand hours of technical training and instruction in both professional and personal skills.

What makes CTE different than traditional forms of education?

CTE is unique in that it is focused on skills and the real-world application thereof. Traditional education, on the other hand, focuses on theory. Granted, CTE does also teach theory, but there is perceptively less focus on it, and theoretical lessons are often limited to introductory materials.

Skill-centric tests involving hands-on experience, practice, and application assessments comprise the bulk of CTE classes, as opposed to the textbook memorization found in their traditional counterparts. CTE works to provide students with relevant experience before they embark on a career in their chosen field.

Another key aspect of CTE is that it serves almost every educational career age range. This is why CTE classes are offered in a wide range of educational career institutions including middle schools, high schools, and even night schools and colleges.

With the help of CTE standards, students can earn the CTE certification necessary to launch and build their careers in high-demand industries.

CTE career tracks/clusters

CTE has 16 tracks, otherwise known as career clusters. Each track is distinct providing highly specific classes for specialized areas of expertise:

CTE career tracks/clusters

  1. Health Science – with more people living longer lives, health science is easily one of the most popular CTE standards available. Career examples: Nurse Practitioner, Home Health Aide, Physical Therapist Assistant.
  2. Business, Management and Administration – this is one of the most versatile CTE programs, and is included in other career tracks in one form of another, especially business management. Career examples: Entrepreneur, Human Resources Manager, Training and Development Specialist.
  3. Marketing, Sales and Service – this cluster focuses on planning, managing and executing marketing activities for attracting and keeping customers, as well as other business objectives. Career examples: Marketing Analyst, Real Estate Agent, Product Manager.
  4. Finance – this cluster teaches students how to handle small to large scale accounting and bookkeeping, preparing them for careers in banking, insurance, investments, and the like. Career examples: Financial Analyst, Investor Relations Associate, Credit Analyst.
  5. Information Technology – another highly in-demand CTE program, mainly due to the prevalence of digital networks and computer systems. Career examples: Network Specialist, Site Reliability Manager, Computer Scientist.
  6. Education and Training – a certification in this cluster helps make a person a better candidate for careers in educational career training, consulting, recruitment, and even a teacher in some states. Career examples: Training Consultant, Teaching Aide, Safety Specialist.
  7. Arts, A/V Technology and Communications – students taking this cluster can look forward to creating and publishing multimedia content including visual and performing arts and design. As you can imagine, there’s a whole host of industries requiring such talents. Career examples: Recording Engineer, Lighting Technician, Audio-Visual Technician.
  8. Architecture and Construction – this career cluster focuses mainly on designing, developing, building, managing, and maintaining the built environment. Career examples: Build Estimator, Contractor, Home Inspector.
  9. Manufacturing – for those looking for a successful career in manufacturing, mechanical drafting, and skilled mechanical trades occupations, this CTE is for you. Career examples: Production, Quality Assurance, Process Development.
  10. Government and Public Administration – this career cluster provides relevant training for potential elected or appointed government officials, as well as those involved in making and executing public policy. Career examples: Politician, Zoning Specialist, Administrative Secretary
  11. Transportation, Distribution and Logistics – this is a critical sector in the US economy, ensuring that goods arrive safely and soundly at their destination. Any company that needs to track inventory will always need a worker versed in transportation, distribution, and logistics. Career examples: Warehouse Manager, Logistics Planner, Distribution Coordinator
  12. Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources – this career cluster opens up a lot of avenues for students with an agriculture background—on farms, in laboratories, and other workplaces where plants and animals are cultivated. Career examples: Farmer (the most obvious career), Agronomist, Wildlife Biologist
  13. Human Services – another term for social services, this cluster focuses on improving the emotional, mental and social wellbeing of people. Generally speaking, people in human services provide support for psychologists, lawyers, therapists, and counselors. Career examples: Community Facilitator, Social Welfare Officer, Social Service Assistant
  14. Law, Public Safety and Security – a job in emergency services and legal-based occupations is what this career cluster eventually leads to. It’s also a great launchpad for those looking into a career in criminal justice, especially law enforcement. Career examples: Legal Bookkeeper, Paralegal, Legal Cost Consultant
  15. Hospitality and Tourism – as the name suggests, this cluster teaches the ins and outs of the hospitality business, including how to manage hotels, attract tourists, and provide exceptional customer satisfaction. Career examples: Guest Relations Officer, Receptionist, Tour Guide
  16. Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) – STEM work goes beyond scientists and engineers. It also include numerous high income, high skilled, and high demand careers that include everything from shop class to vehicle design. Career examples: Mechanic, CAD Operator, CNC Programmer

Apart from these 16 career clusters, CTE also integrates 79 subgroups—more formally called pathways—to help students navigate their way to greater success in college and career.

What Research Says about CTE

CTE is an effective program for learners to achieve success in life, and the numbers back it up. Here are some key statistics.

  • Taking CTE classes reduces the risk of students dropping out of school, with 93 percent graduating from CTE programs— about 10 percent higher than the overall high school graduation rate.
  • 27 percent of CTE graduates earn more than the average bachelor’s degree holder
  • CTE is good for the community—investing in CTE meaning programs has paid off big in many states including Oklahoma, Colorado, and Wisconsin, infusing their local economies with billions of dollars.
  • The skills gap continues to grow across the workforce, with 60 percent of US employers having job openings that stay vacant for 12 weeks or longer. CTE addresses these labor needs and helps close the skills gap.

CTE and your Resume

Crafting the perfect resume can be overwhelming. For those who have CTE certification, your greatest challenge is to present the skills, experience, and knowledge you’ve gained in a way that appeals to recruiters and hiring managers. Resumeble can be of great help to you in this area. Contact us today and let us work on your resume.

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  • 7 seconds: this is how long your resume has either to impress or be ignored by the recruiter 
  • 300+: average number of applications one corporate job opening posted online receives 
  • 3%: number of sent resumes that result in interviews 

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