by Trina Pruitt, parent and Go Public Contributor

February is CTE (Career and Technical Education) month! If you are my age (not telling) you might not even know what CTE is or that it is a major part of high school curriculum these days. Students in our public high schools have diverse interests, and the districts provide opportunities to gain relevant technical skills to prepare them for a wide range of high-paying, in-demand careers. High school students are able to obtain college credit and/or achieve certification in the area of their choice before they graduate. I don’t know about you, but I would have loved the opportunity to do this way (way) back when I was in high school. It’s a new age in education, and our public schools have really upped their game. Through CTE programs, our kids are graduating from high school more college and career-ready than ever!

Career Readiness Month CTE Programs in High School

– What is CTE?

Career and Technical Education curriculum prepares students for college and the real world by introducing workplace competencies and providing hands-on academic experiences.
There are over 120 CTE areas of study that can be organized into 16 Career Clusters. The cluster system provides a guide for education plans in order to help students discover and use their unique interests and talents.

The 16 CTE Career Clusters include:

  • Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources
  • Architecture and Construction
  • Arts, Audio/Video Technology and Communications
  • Business Management and Administration
  • Education and Training
  • Finance
  • Government and Public Administration
  • Health Science
  • Hospitality and Tourism
  • Human Services
  • Information Technology (IT)
  • Law, Public Safety, Corrections and Security
  • Manufacturing
  • Marketing
  • Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)
  • Transportation, Distribution & Logistics

The variety of CTE courses related to these career cluster topics are limitless. The most popular classes include Culinary Arts, Baking, Accounting, Energy Technology, Web Design, Business Management, Business Law, Computer Information Systems, Architectural Drafting, Auto Mechanics, Graphic Design, Construction, Metalwork, Welding, Furniture Making, Floral Design, Fashion Design, Building Trades, Health Careers, Multimedia Arts, Law Enforcement, Agriculture, Audio-Visual Technology, etc.

The demand for more CTE opportunities has grown in order to prepare students for career fields who might not have the ability to attend college. They can also provide college credit to students who plan on pursuing post-secondary education.

Some San Antonio-area public schools are career academies, or “early college”. The curriculum focuses on CTE classes, and they can provide the opportunity for a student to graduate from high school with an associate degree or a professional certification. Students and parents are encouraged to explore the several Career and Technical Education options available in their district.

-What are some examples of CTE Career Readiness Programs and Career options?

One career training program that I find extremely interesting is in Cyber Security. Did you know that there is currently a cybersecurity skills shortage? According to a report from Cybersecurity Ventures, the current shortage is projected to lead to 3.5 million unfilled jobs by 2021. The demand for specialists in this field is increasing, as well as salaries. Last year an information security analyst’s average income was over $90,000!
In these types of CTE security and network defense courses, students learn about configuring software and hardware, servers and intrusion detection systems, and firewalls.
To boost the city’s cybersecurity, San Antonio is launching its first security operations center. As the city seeks to become a global industry leader with cybersecurity presence, it will continue to need tech and cyber professionals. Today’s students are so comfortable with technology that they are rapidly gaining the skills needed for success in this field of services within the Information Technology CTE cluster.

Cybersecurity isn’t the only lucrative career option within CTE Clusters. There are tons of in-demand jobs in the Health Sciences field. Medical and dental assistants, pharmacy technicians, and similar professionals average about $50,000 a year.

Within the Architecture and Construction cluster, electronics technicians can bring in up to $90,000 annually. These technicians learn to install, maintain, and repair electrical wiring, fixtures, and equipment.

Automotive service technician and mechanic work has become a high technology job due to the electronic systems and complex computers that run today’s vehicles. Technicians in this field, which is part of the Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics cluster, must not only have knowledge of the complex workings of vehicles, but they also need to understand electronic diagnostics and technical reference materials. These CTE-based courses can lead to a successful career making around $50,000 per year.

CTE education in our public schools assures that our students will have a good chance of having steady employment. You can find a detailed list of CTE industry certifications and median incomes here: Certifications and Incomes

– How does CTE benefit students?

CTE classes go beyond just job training for students; they cover a wide range of career fields that help students find what they are most interested in.
CTE jobs will always be in demand. Students with certifications can start work right out of high school or later in life after college.
CTE students are more likely to graduate than non-CTE students due to the fact that they get excited about their learning experiences and become highly engaged in real-world lessons.
CTE students have shown to have higher grades in other core subjects like reading, science, and mathematics.

CTE tracks allow students to choose an educational path that can lead to greater success in high school, college, and future careers. Public school CTE programs offer students an extensive set of skills, practical experiences, and hands-on training that is designed to give them an edge after graduation and well into the future.

Other resources:

TEA CTE Information page https://tea.texas.gov/academics/college-career-and-military-prep/career-and-technical-education

Certification Resources https://tea.texas.gov/academics/college-career-and-military-prep/career-and-technical-education/industry-based

Southside ISD-Southside High School’s Law Enforcement teacher demonstrates how to safely enter a building

Southside ISD Auto Tech teacher goes over the workings of an engine with his students

East Central ISD Fashion Design finalist designs at the University of the Incarnate Word Red Dress Fashion Show