People are talking about Career and Technical Education (CTE) for a reason. Employers need more talent and education requirements are evolving. A traditional four-year degree is no longer the only pathway to success.
High-wage, high-demand jobs need well-trained graduates who are ready to work. From manufacturing to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), CTE is the pathway to equip students for the future of employment. It is a broad term that allows more students to succeed. CTE programs pair technical and academic skills with the know-how for establishing a career in today’s labor market.
CTE plays a critical role in helping society and boosting the economy. From agriculture to construction to computer science, our world needs these jobs. According to a resource from the Association For Career & Technical Education (ACTE), 92% of high school students and 69% of college and adult students use CTE skills in the classroom and on the job.
Here are the most frequently asked questions about this thriving education pathway:
What is Career and Technical Education?
Career and Technical Education (CTE) is the best way to describe the evolving career field in today’s labor market. The original description began as vocational education, which came nearly 100 years ago. The focus included agriculture and home-making. Trade and industrial education fit within the category, too.
As our job market changed, terms for career opportunities changed, too. CTE is a broader education path. More people have used this term to highlight the variety of industry opportunities. Congress also responded through federal law. In 2006, it updated “vocational” to “CTE” when describing laws influencing CTE programs.
What is the purpose of Career and Technical Education?
CTE equips students with technical and academic skills to help them become top candidates for high-demand jobs. Students are employable and ready to start engaging careers. The hands-on education and training can begin early and helps students discover interests and passions where they can succeed.
What are Career and Technical Education programs?
Career and Technical Education programs prepare students for a broad range of careers. Students don’t attend school to check a list of courses. Instead, CTE helps students receive exposure to a variety of skills and career paths through hands-on learning opportunities. A successful CTE program includes courses that align with industry standards.
It is becoming more common for high school programs to offer dual credit to students. While students earn high school credits, they also earn college credits. CTE students can earn certifications, licenses, and other degrees.
How can elementary schools lay an early foundation for Career and Technical Education?
Teachers can ignite a passion for CTE by helping students at all levels discover and appreciate their skills, talents, and interests. Teachers can also reassure students who lack confidence in a non-traditional education route.
One of the most exciting things about elementary school is how much is yet to be discovered. Help students by creating hands-on opportunities to learn what they love — and what they may not like. Teachers have the privilege of introducing students to interests they may have never considered through field trips, projects, open research topics, and more.
How do I become a Career and Technical Education teacher?
Does your school have a CTE-dedicated pathway for students? Talk with your administration to learn how you can help students on this path. Even if there is no specialized program, there are ways to introduce students to new skills and interests. For example, invite guest speakers to speak to your class or create clubs with varying interests.
What’s the difference between Career and Technical Education and Vocational Education?
Vocational education includes a more limited list of career opportunities, such as agriculture or industrial education. Students exploring CTE can succeed in everything from automotive repair to culinary arts to entrepreneurship.
What are some career opportunities in Career and Technical Education?
Here are common industry opportunities for CTE graduates:
- Agriculture, food, and natural resources
- Architecture and construction
- A/V technology, arts, and communications
- Business management and administration
- Education and training
- Government and public administration
- Health science
- Hospitality and tourism
- Human services
- Information technology
- Law, public safety, corrections, and security
- Transportation, distribution, and logistics
When is Career and Technical Education Month?
The United States celebrates Career and Technical Education Month in February. Across the country, we cheer on the accomplishments of CTE programs and how they boost our economy. We celebrate students exploring the pathway and raise awareness for legislators, too.
Did we miss one of your questions? Reach out today to learn more about CTE. Prepare your students now for the future’s most in-demand careers.
Shaunda Douglas is a former educator with over 15 years of experience in all levels of education. In her free time, she reads, plays with her dogs, watches baseball, and loves a good nap.