About CTE

Career and Technical Education (CTE) creates Pathways to lifelong career success for every secondary student by providing him or her with the technical skills and academic knowledge needed to prepare for future employment and/or a successful transition to postsecondary education.

Overview

Areas of Study

CTE provides courses and Pathways consistent with industry standards. Exploratory courses begin in the seventh grade, and subsequent courses teach students specific job readiness and job skills, which can lead to employment and postsecondary education.

  • Agricultural Education
  • Business and Marketing Education
  • Family and Consumer Sciences Education
  • Health Science Education
  • Information Technology Education
  • Skilled and Technical Sciences Education
  • Technology and Engineering Education

Role of Secondary CTE:

  • Provide Career and Technical Education in the state’s K-12 system of public education.
  • Introduce students to career options.
  • Assist in development of career goals.
  • Provide technical skills.
  • Provide occupation-specific skills.
  • Prepare students for further education and training.

Career and Technical Education:

  • Provided in 47 public school districts and charter schools
  • Provided in 171 middle/junior high schools
  • Provided in 141 high schools
  • In 2013-2014, over 137,000 students (grades 9-12) participated in CTE training

College and Career Awareness

Utah’s College and Career Awareness program provides junior high students with the direction, decision making, and planning needed in order to select their career path.

  • Self-knowledge
  • Education and occupation exploration
  • Career planning

Comprehensive Counseling and Guidance Program

Utah’s Comprehensive Counseling and Guidance Program assists students and their parents in the development of a College and Career Ready Plan. The program enables students to:

  • Explore career possibilities.
  • Expand their opportunities and set personal education and career goals.

Skill Certificate Program

CTE provides skill certificates in courses and programs in grades 9-12. The Skill Certificate exams verify skill attainment and, where available, industry exams are offered. This accountability system assures that all courses and programs in the state are consistently teaching to the standards established by experts in that occupational area.

Work-Based Learning

Utah’s Work-Based Learning program narrows the gap between theory and practice. Students have opportunities to see how classroom instruction connects to the world of work and future career opportunities through these activities.

  • Apprenticeships
  • Career Fairs
  • Field Studies
  • Guest Speakers
  • Job Shadows
  • Student Internships

CTE Facts

Did You Know...

Career and Technical Education (CTE) creates Pathways for all secondary students by providing them with the technical skills and academic knowledge needed to prepare for future employment and/or a successful transition to postsecondary education.

Career and Technical Education encompasses a variety of programs structured to equip students with work and life skills. In Utah, over 137,000 students (grades 9-12) participate in CTE courses annually that help them explore career options and develop occupational skills. The curriculum of CTE gives students the practical experience they need to succeed through a combination of classroom instruction, hands-on laboratory work, and on-the-job training. CTE is offered in all 141 public high schools, including public charter schools, and in 171 public middle/junior high schools.

Career and Technical Education jump-starts students’ careers by preparing them for postsecondary education and training for high-skill, high-wage, and high-demand occupations while they are still in high school. By following a CTE Pathway, students become college and career ready. Pathways give students many kinds of opportunities to acquire job skills and to get a head start in selected college programs. In Utah, all graduating students have taken a CTE course in high school, and approximately 30 percent of all high school career and technical graduates enter some form of postsecondary program.

Preparing students for meaningful work is an important goal of career and technical education because of the widening skills gap in the nation’s workforce.

Career and Technical Education prepares students for tomorrow’s workplace. Career and Technical Education educators work closely with the Department of Workforce Services (DWS) and Utah employers to make sure students have the skills the labor market demands.

Areas of Study

Agricultural Education
Encompasses agricultural business and management, agricultural engineering, animal science, and horticulture.

Business and Marketing Education
Encompasses core business and marketing classes such as: accounting, banking and finance, business computer technology, communications, entrepreneurship, social media marketing, and Web page design.

Family and Consumer Sciences Education
Encompasses child development/child care, food and nutrition, food services/ culinary arts, hospitality, interior design, and fashion design.

Health Science Education
Encompasses biotechnology, dental assisting, emergency medical technician, medical assisting, nurse assisting, and pharmacy technician.

Information Technology Education
Encompasses database development, digital media, network design, programming and software engineering, technical support, and Web development

Skilled and Technical Sciences Education
Encompasses a wide range of trades including auto mechanics, carpentry, commercial art and photography, commercial aviation, cosmetology and barbering, drafting, fire science, law enforcement, and welding.

Technology and Engineering Education
Encompasses materials, processes, and technologies used in manufacturing, construction, transportation, communication, and engineering-related technologies.

Supporting Program Areas

College and Career Awareness
Allows students, through activity-centered lessons, to utilize technology, develop beginning skills, and explore careers. This course provides information regarding additional courses and training related to each student’s career field of interest.

Comprehensive Counseling and Guidance
Assists students through specific self-appraisal and self-improvement activities to enable effective planning to meet their personal education and career goals.

Skill Certificate
Provides statewide competency-based student assessments. Student skill attainment is measured by core standards and competencies needed to be successful in the workforce.

Work-Based Learning
Gives students the opportunity to learn a variety of skills by expanding the walls of classroom learning to include the community. By narrowing the gap between theory and practice, Work-Based Learning creates meaning for students.

Dropout Prevention

  • In 2013, Utah high schools graduated 81 percent of their students.
  • In 2013, the Utah high school dropout rate decreased by 3 percent.
  • Students who take two CTE courses are least likely to drop out of high school.1
  • Students who participate in Work-Based Learning activities such as internships, job shadowing, field studies, and career fairs are 30 percent less likely to drop out of high school.1
  • A combination of 60 percent academic courses and 40 percent Career and Technical Education is the most effective dropout prevention program in the American high school.2
  • Teens who have good high school work experiences are more likely to be inspired to stay in school, graduate, and adopt ambitious goals.5

Job Placement

  • The more CTE courses students take, the less likely they are to suffer periods of unemployment.
  • Career and Technical Education graduates find employment 2.2 times faster than graduates from general education programs.3
  • High school students who graduate with a Career and Technical Education concentration are 2.5 times more likely to be employed while pursuing postsecondary education.
  • Eighteen of the 20 fastest growing occupations within the next decade will require Career and Technical Education.4
  • There are many high-tech jobs in Utah that students can perform as a result of taking CTE courses while in high school.
  • Career and Technical Education enables students to acquire the skills necessary for entry into postsecondary training and careers with high potential for rapid financial growth, increased levels of responsibility, and a high degree of personal satisfaction.

On-The-Job Productivity

  • Today’s labor market requires that workers have more advanced training and post-secondary education. As a result, CTE graduates are more employable and have higher earnings.
  • Career and Technical Education in the high schools closes the workforce gap by giving students a jump-start in obtaining essential life skills and certified occupational skills.
  • Career and Technical Education reduces the workforce gap by providing long-term job education and skills training for students, enabling them to reach their full potential. Studies reveal a strong correlation between education/technical skill levels and continued employment/lifelong earnings.

Encouragement for Further Learning

  • Last year, 20,266 secondary CTE students participated in CTE concurrent enrollment courses, earning 53,411 CTE concurrent enrollment credit hours.
  • Since 1973, jobs that require at least some college have exploded, while opportunities for those with just a high school education have shrunk dramatically.5 Through hands-on training, CTE prepares students for college and careers by helping them obtain the technical skills to advance in the highly competitive workforce of the 21st century.
  • There are nine postsecondary institutions in Utah that offer technical programs, including community colleges, technical institutes, skill centers, and other public and private two-year and four-year colleges.
  • In Utah, there are over 202,000 secondary and postsecondary Career and Technical Education students.
  • According to the United States Department of Education's Office of Vocational and Adult Education, approximately 12 million secondary and postsecondary students participate in Career and Technical Education.

Hands-On Approach

  • Career and Technical Education uses a hands-on approach that teaching experts believe is more effective with many students than reading or listening to lectures alone.
  • Through Work-Based Learning activities, approximately 138,000 students participate in internships, job shadowing, field studies, and career fairs annually. Through these activities students have the opportunity to see how classroom instruction connects to the world of work and future career opportunities.
  • Learning for Jobs concludes that, done well, Work-Based Learning appears to be the best way for the majority of young people to prepare for the world of work.5
  • The most intensive forms of workplace learning—apprenticeship and sustained internships—are especially effective in meeting the developmental needs of young people.5

Career and Technical Education Skills

  • Students without a strong math, science, and computer background will find about 80 percent of future jobs beyond their reach.
  • Career and Technical Education programs can be either general or occupation-specific. General programs provide basic employability skills and introduce various occupational fields. Occupation-specific programs teach the same basic skills, but also prepare students for a particular career.
  • Today’s best CTE programs do a better job of preparing many students for college and career than traditional academics-only programs.5
  • Over 137,000 Utah students (grades 9-12) participate in CTE courses annually.
  • Last year 20,266 secondary CTE students participated in CTE concurrent enrollment courses, earning 53,411 CTE concurrent enrollment credit hours.

Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs)

  • CTSOs help students develop leadership skills and positive work values, while reinforcing the Career and Technical Education curriculum.
  • Seven student organizations include: DECA, FCCLA, FBLA, FFA, HOSA, SkillsUSA, and TSA.
  • In Utah, over 20,000 secondary students participate in student leadership organizations.
  1. NRC Stone, 2003.
  2. Plank, NCRVE, 2002.
  3. Okou, PSU, 2004.
  4. Association of CTE, 2007.
  5. Harvard Graduate School of Education Pathways to Prosperity Project, 2011.

CTE Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Purpose of Career and Technical Education (CTE)?

CTE provides students with technical training to prepare for a successful career. The structured training each student receives gives him or her the tools needed to be successful in a career after high school and/or further his or her postsecondary education, whether technical school, two-year college, or four-year college. Each student is encouraged to explore various CTE Areas of Study and to develop the essential skills to feel competent in entering today’s competitive job market.

What Subject Areas Are Covered by CTE?

  • Agricultural Education
  • Business and Marketing Education
  • Family and Consumer Sciences Education
  • Health Science Education
  • Information Technology Education 
  • Skilled and Technical Sciences Education
  • Technology and Engineering Education

CTE has over 50 Career Pathways within seven Areas of Study. A Pathway is a sequence of courses within a student’s area of interest. A CTE Pathway connects from high school to college for a specific degree and/or career.

Is CTE Only for Students Who Are Not College-Bound?

No. Career and Technical Education is essential for all students, providing them with a foundation of academic knowledge and essential technical skills. CTE courses and programs introduce students to career options and assist them in making informed educational choices.

How is CTE Funded?

CTE funding is based on regular Weighted Pupil Unit (WPU), including incentives to provide Career and Technical Education in schools throughout the state. CTE funding is also supplemented with a federal appropriation through the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act.

Where Is CTE Offered?

CTE courses and programs are offered in 47 public school districts and charter schools. Most Utah colleges and universities offer postsecondary CTE programs.

How Is CTE Offered?

Students in grades K-12 are exposed to various aspects of Career and Technical Education.

Kindergarten – Sixth Grade
Students have the opportunity to see how classroom instruction connects to the world of work and future career opportunities. Through the Core Curriculum, students see connections to the real world; through guest speakers and field studies, students gain understanding of the world of work and how learning today connects with careers of the future.

Middle School/Junior High CTE
Through the CTE Introduction program, typically taught in the seventh grade, every student is involved in activity-centered lessons which utilize technology, develop skills, and explore careers. Students are provided with the direction, decision making, and planning needed in order to select their career path. Additional courses offered at the middle/junior high level provide students with rich experience in computer technology and business, family and consumer sciences, information technology, and pre-engineering, with more programs being developed.

High School CTE
Students begin to acquire specific job training skills as they continue to take courses that meet their interests and abilities. A rich offering of courses lead students to employment, further education, or training offered in all high schools. Students have opportunities to take concurrent enrollment courses, which provide them with college credit while in high school. The CTE Skill Certificate program provides certification of specific occupational skills that students can take to employers or to postsecondary institutions.

What Other Support and Opportunities Are Available to Students?

Comprehensive Guidance Program
Assists students, through specific self-appraisal and self-improvement activities, in the development of a College and Career Plan to effectively meet educational goals.

Work-Based Learning Program
Gives students opportunities to see how classroom instruction connects to the world of work and future careers.

How Many CTE Students Are in Utah?

There are over 202,000 secondary and postsecondary CTE students in Utah.

  • Over 137,000 students (grades 9-12) participate in CTE courses annually.
  • Nationally 12 million secondary and postsecondary students participate in Career and Technical Education.

How Many CTE Programs Are in Utah?

In Utah, CTE programs are offered in all public high schools, middle/jr. high schools, and some charter schools. There are nine postsecondary institutions in Utah that offer technical programs, including community colleges, technical colleges, technical education centers, and other public and private two-year and four-year colleges.

How Does CTE Prepare Students for College and Career?

  • Students participate in a CTE Pathway.
  • Students complete appropriate academic and skill development courses.
  • Students participate in concurrent enrollment courses that meet degree requirements.
  • Students complete related state or industry skill assessments.
  • Students earn industry certification, where available.

Is There Any Proof That CTE Works?

Yes.

  • Students who take two or more CTE courses are less likely to drop out of high school.i
  • High school CTE programs prepare students for the many high paying, high-tech jobs requiring less than a bachelor’s degree.

How Can I Learn More about CTE?

Talk to your high school counselor or contact the Utah State Board of Education (USBE).

i NRCCTE, Stone, 2013.

Pathways Frequently Asked Questions

What Is a CTE Pathway? 

A Pathway is a sequence of courses within a student’s area of interest. A Pathway connects from high school to college for a certificate, a degree and/or career.

How Are Pathways Beneficial to Students?

Many Pathways offer concurrent enrollment credit. A Pathway will save students time and money towards training and/or a college degree.

Why Should Students Participate in CTE Career Pathways?

  1. To acquire technical skills training.
  2. To participate in hands-on learning.
  3. To jump-start their future career.
  4. To earn college credit while in high school.
  5. To save time and money!

How Do CTE Pathways Connect to Postsecondary Education?

CTE Pathways help match education and workplace needs through partnerships with postsecondary institutions, the school districts, business, and industry.

CTE Career Pathways are the maps that can help guide students to:

  • High school courses.
  • Postsecondary options most relevant to their chosen career destination.

What Are the Opportunities for Students Who Participate in a CTE Pathway?

  • Maximize opportunities for students.
  • Increase student awareness of careers and education and training.
  • Strengthen the planning process using a College and Career Ready Plan.

How Do CTE Pathways Prepare Students for College and Career?

  • Students complete appropriate academic and skill development courses.
  • Students participate in concurrent enrollment courses that meet degree requirements.
  • Students complete related state or industry skill assessments.
  • Students earn industry certification, where available.

Are Concurrent Enrollment Classes Included in a CTE Pathway?

Yes! CTE Pathways include concurrent enrollment courses, and credits earned can be transferred to a college or university.

In Utah, What Number of Students Are Enrolled in CTE Courses?

  • 72,080 males
  • 65,745 females
  • 137,825 9th-12th graders

What Do CTE Pathways Prepare Students For?

Postsecondary education. High school students enrolled in CTE Pathways receive advanced occupational training to pursue postsecondary certificates and degrees.

What Does Postsecondary Education Mean?

Postsecondary education means a one-year certificate, a two-year associate or technical degree or a four-year bachelor’s degree.

What Does a CTE Pathway Look Like?

A CTE Pathway includes both foundation and elective courses within a students area of interest. Students are required to earn a specific number of foundation and elective credits in order to be considered a CTE Pathway completer.

How Many Credits Does a Student Need to Be a CTE Pathway Completer?

A student needs 3.00 graduation credits to be a CTE Pathway completer.

What Percentage of Jobs Require Additional Training Beyond High School?

According to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, 35 percent of job openings will require at least a bachelor's degree and 30 percent of the job openings will require some college or and associate degree.

How Many CTE Pathways Are There in Utah?

Utah recognizes over 50 Career Pathways within seven Areas of Study.

What Are the CTE Areas of Study?

  • Agricultural Education
  • Business and Marketing Education
  • Family and Consumer Sciences Education
  • Health Science Education
  • Information Technology Education
  • Skilled and Technical Sciences Education
  • Technology and Engineering Education

What Pathways Are Offered Through CTE?

For a complete listing of CTE Pathways offered, talk to your high school counselor or access UtahCTE.org.

Are CTE Pathways Different from the National Career Clusters?

No. Each CTE Pathway is based on national skills standards and the national career clusters preparing students with academic and hands-on learning in order to successfully transition from high school to postsecondary education.

Are Students Recognized for Completing the Secondary Portion of the CTE Pathways?

Yes. An award program recognizes students who successfully complete a CTE Pathway while in high school. This award is called the Secondary Pathway Completer Recognition Award. Students should talk to their school counselor about applying for this award.

How Can I Learn More About CTE and CTE Pathways?

Talk to your school counselor or contact the Utah State Board of Education (USBE).

Our vision is to see that every student has the opportunity to explore a variety of career areas throughout high school that will equip him or her with the academic knowledge, technical and employment skills vital for entry into the evolving workforce of the 21st century.