What Is Career Technical Education And Why It’s Important To Know About It

Career Technical Education (CTE), formerly known as “vocational education,” is an educational program geared towards high school and college students who want to develop the necessary expertise for specific careers. The program prepares students with both technical and academic skills, knowledge, and training. Students may participate in taking required and specialized courses, internships, student-to-mentor connections, and hands-on projects.


CTE focuses on 16 primary career clusters: Finance, Business Management and Administration, Marketing, Health Science, Human Services, Information Technology, Law, Logistics, and Government and Public Administration.

Two diverse students are standing in front of a giant “Wheel of Success,” ready to spin it.
Two diverse students are standing in front of a giant “Wheel of Success,” ready to spin it. Illustration by Megan Lermanda.

More On the Different CTE Programs Available?


Statistics have proven that CTE is an overall success among students who have graduated from the program. According to Career Tech (clarify who Career Tech are? Where this sample comes from, and how big/representative it is?):

  • 93 percent of high school students graduate from the CTE concentration
  • 75+ percent of high school students earn at least 1 CTE credit
  • 75 percent of CTE high school graduates enroll in college
  • 84 percent of CTE enrollees continued their education after the program was completed or obtained employment within six months of completing the program
  • High school students enrolled in CTE have a significantly lower dropout rate than non-CTE high school students
  • College students who graduate with a career-focused degree rather than an academic-focused degree are more likely to have a job in the future because they have some work experience in that field
  • On average, college students who graduate with a CTE degree earn $4,000-$19,000 more a year than non-CTE students.


The desire for CTE programs has continued to grow nationwide as states have continued to build CTE centers and shift their primary focus from college preparation to career readiness. The increased demand makes sense due to the proven impact of CTE enrolment on future employability. Indeed, in a recent survey of business leaders, half noted that the school education system alone does not adequately prepare students for the workforce.


State Level


States are taking action. Kansas recently adopted a law that pays schools $1,000 for every student who graduates from high school that has earned an industry-recognized credential.

Additionally, Oregon has passed a law that requires an apprenticeship list to be shared with students and parents on behalf of the state’s Education Department and Labor Bureau. Idaho is now granting dual credit for high school students who pass career-technical courses as well as academic courses.

For more information, go to https://careertech.org to learn more about CTE.


Diverse students are sitting on giant CTE letters representing the topic.
Diverse students are sitting on giant CTE letters representing the topic. Illustration by Megan Lermanda.

Originally published in 2018. For updated statistics, consider vising one of the below listed sources. Read more workforce articles on Zealousness Workforce and Job Market – iN Education Inc. (ineducationonline.org)


  1. “Home | Advance CTE.” 2017. Careertech.org. 2017. https://careertech.org/.
  2. “Why Career and Technical Education?” n.d. SkillsUSA: Champions at Work. https://www.skillsusa.org/about/why-career-technical-education/.
  3. Sasser, Jeremy. n.d. “4 Facts That Prove CTE Works.” Info.nhanow.com. Accessed April 4, 2023. https://info.nhanow.com/blog/celebrating-cte-month.
  4. “Career and Technical Education (CTE) Statistics – Tables: Secondary/High School.” n.d. Nces.ed.gov. Accessed April 4, 2023. https://nces.ed.gov/surveys/ctes/tables/index.asp?LEVEL=SECONDARY.
  5. Gewertz, Catherine. 2017. “Growing Number of States Embrace Career Education – Education Week.” Education Week. October 4, 2017. https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2017/10/04/growing-numbers-of-states-embrace-career-education.html.




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