The Health Science CTE Cluster covers a broad list of healthcare pathways, including training to become a dietitian, personal trainer, phlebotomy technician, dental assistant, or pharmacy technician.
The Health Science CTE Career Cluster focuses on planning, managing, and providing therapeutic, diagnostics, and support services, health informatics, and biotechnology research. Health Science students learn to reason, think critically, communicate effectively, make decisions, solve problems, and work well with others.
What jobs can you get with a Health Science degree?
Health Science studies can prepare students for medical careers by offering a foundation of skills needed for community and public health jobs, doctors, behavior analysts, pharmaceutical reps, mental health counselors, sonographers, and many more.
HOSA and Work-Based Learning Opportunities
High school CTE students are encouraged to join HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America). HOSA is a global student-led organization with a mission to empower future health professionals to become leaders in the health community.
HOSA participation provides opportunities for students to:
- Develop leadership qualities
- Improve communication skills
- Enhance critical thinking skills
- Participate in community service activities
- Network with health care professionals
- Access student scholarship opportunities.
Students are also encouraged to participate in work-based learning outside of school curriculum by volunteering at a hospital, rehabilitation center, assisted living, or nursing home. They can job shadow or intern in lab settings, or manage a high school sports team.
Exercise Science and Wellness programs combine kinesiology and nutrition studies to prepare students for careers in athletic training jobs or as registered dietitians.
Exercise Science and Wellness CTE introduces learners to the fields of physical, mental, and emotional health. Students research diet and exercise to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and they learn techniques to help patients recover from injury, illness, or disease.
CTE students have the opportunity to begin the Exercise Science and Wellness cluster by earning a license in high school to be certified personal trainers.
Kinesiology and Exercise Science
What is Kinesiology?
Kinesiology is the study of the mechanics of bodily movements. This branch of study evaluates health by exploring biofeedback from muscles. Applied kinesiology identifies stress which strains the whole body which may manifest as a weakening of a single muscle. (News Medical-Life Sciences)
Athletic Training and Personal Training to Become a Coach
Athletic training encompasses the prevention, examination, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions. Many trainers can start as personal trainers and work their way up to athletic trainers with experience and education. Athletic training can also provide a foundation of critical knowledge for those students who wish to become a coach in the future.
What is an Athletic Trainer?
Athletic trainers (ATs) are qualified, skilled health care professionals who render service or treatment, under the direction of a physician. An athletic trainer, sometimes called a sports trainer, learns primary care, injury and illness prevention, wellness education, emergent care, and rehabilitation of injuries. (National Athletic Trainers Association)
Athletic Training Vs Personal Training
Athletic training jobs and personal trainer jobs are different. Personal trainers typically work at gyms to help the general public improve their fitness. Personal trainers can teach clients how to correctly use exercise equipment like a treadmill and how to perform core exercises. However, athletic trainers work at colleges, hospitals, clinics, or with professional sports teams to help patients recuperate from injuries. (Athletic Edge)
Personal trainer certification provides fitness instructors and trainers with the skills they need to provide comprehensive fitness training. An athletic trainer must graduate with a bachelor’s or master’s degree from a professional athletic training education program, pass a comprehensive test, and meet ongoing continuing education requirements. (NATA)
Exercise Physiologist Jobs
A clinical exercise physiologist develops aerobic exercise programs to help patients recover from chronic diseases and improve cardiovascular function, body composition, and flexibility. Exercise physiologists analyze a patient’s medical history, perform fitness tests, and measure blood pressure and oxygen usage to determine the best exercise and fitness regimen for the individual.
The average annual exercise physiologist salary is $42,000, and the outlook on jobs with an exercise physiologist certification is expected to grow. (BLS)
Recreational Therapy Treatment
Recreational therapy includes recreation-based treatment plans for people with disabilities, injuries, or illnesses. Recreational therapy can include arts and crafts; music, drama, dance, games, or community outings to help improve a patient’s physical and emotional well-being.
Diet and Nutrition studies include introductions to diabetes and the Keto diet and Paleo diet to become a registered dietitian.
How to Become a Registered Dietitian
To become a registered dietitian, students typically need a bachelor’s degree as well as supervised training through an internship.
The average dietitian salary is $60,000 annually, and dietitian jobs are expected to grow in the future. (BLS)
The Healthcare Diagnostics pathway leads to diagnostic phlebotomy jobs, lab technician jobs, and radiologic technologist jobs.
Medical diagnostics programs introduce students to opportunities related to performing medical laboratory tests for the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease. Students can explore opportunities associated with blood laboratories as well as radiologic technology and ultrasound technology.
CTE students can begin career paths in diagnostics by earning certifications while they are in high school. These certifications include Limited Licensed Radiology Technologist, EKG/ECG Technician, Medical Laboratory Technician, and Phlebotomy Technician.
Radiologic Technologists and EKG Technicians
Radiology Tech Jobs
Radiologic technologists perform x-rays and other diagnostic imaging examinations on patients. A radiology technologist may choose to specialize in x-ray, mammography, or computed tomography (CT) imaging. (BLS)
Radiologic technologist jobs include x-ray technician and ultrasound technician. The average radiologic technologist salary and x-ray tech salary is around $55,000 per year.
EKG Technician Training
An EKG machine monitors the heart through wires and electrodes attached to a patient's chest, arms, and legs. An EKG technician monitors the readings and records the results of the EKG test. (NCE)
With the average EKG technician salary near $60,000/year, students are drawn to this specialized field. An EKG technician program can offer students EKG Technician Certification in high school CTE classes.
Medical Lab Technicians and Phlebotomy Technicians
Lab Technician Jobs
Laboratory technicians collect samples and perform tests to analyze body fluids, tissue, and other substances, earning around $54,000/year.
Students can begin work on a lab technician certification while taking high school CTE classes.
Phlebotomy describes using a needle to take blood from a vein, usually in the arm, which is an important tool for diagnosing many medical conditions. (WebMD)
Phlebotomy training courses prepare CTE students for phlebotomy certification in high school. Phlebotomists earn around $31,000 annually and are always in demand in the healthcare industry.
Healthcare Therapeutic studies include courses to become a patient care technician, dental hygienist, certified nursing assistant, or pharmacy technician.
The Healthcare Therapeutic program of study introduces students to occupations and education in diagnosing and treating acute, episodic, or chronic illness. This program also includes an introduction to providing treatment and counsel to patients as well as rehabilitation for persons with disabilities or developmental delays.
Medical Assistant Certification, CNA Training, and Patient Care Technician Training
Medical assistants work with physicians in outpatient or ambulatory care facilities like medical offices and clinics. Medical assistant programs can focus on administrative or clinical specializations.
Medical assistant training programs are popular as the career field is growing faster than average with the aging population, with the average medical assistant salary around $38,000 annually. (BLS)
Certified Nursing Assistants
Nursing assistants, or nursing aides, provide basic care and assist patients with activities of daily living. A nurse’s aide helps with cleaning patients, helping patients bathe and use the bathroom, measuring vital signs, helping patients to eat meals, and listening to patients’ concerns. (BLS)
A nurse assistant attends Certified Nursing Assistant training programs, or CNA training, to become certified in the field, and CTE students can earn their certification while still in high school.
Patient Care Technicians
Patient care technicians (PCTs) work at patients’ bedsides with duties similar to CNAs. However, PCTs usually have more training to perform other tasks as well. Under the supervision of doctors and RNs, PCTs may be responsible for basic medical or medication-related care. (PremierNursing Academy)
Certified Patient Care Technician programs are offered to students in some high school CTE programs.
Dental Assistant Certification and Pharmacy Technician Certification
Dental Assistant Jobs
A certified dental assistant, or CDA, works with dentists to ensure the dental office runs smoothly and patients are comfortable. A CDA is a dental support specialist with certification from the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB). They understand how to take care of patients and perform administrative duties.
A registered dental assistant, or RDA, holds state licensure and registration. Some RDAs may have only entry-level experience in the field, and some states require dental assistants to first become CDAs before they can pursue RDA licensure. (Indeed) Registered Dental Assistants can perform clinical duties like equipment preparation and sterilization, preparing patients for treatments, assisting the dentist during treatments, or providing patients with oral healthcare instructions. CTE programs can offer students the opportunity to receive their certification as a Registered Dental Assistant in high school.
Dental Assistant Salary
Dental assistants can earn around $43,000 annually, and as adults live longer, the need for dental care and oral health services will continue to increase. Job opportunities for qualified dental assistants are projected to remain in high demand. (BLS)
Pharmacy Technician Jobs
Pharmacy technicians work in retail pharmacies and hospitals to dispense prescription medication to customers and health professionals. Pharmacy technician training includes learning to measure medications, package and label prescriptions, organize inventory, answer phone calls, and accept payments.
How much does a pharmacy technician make?
Pharmacy technicians average around $36,000 per year under the supervision of a pharmacist. With the aging population, older people typically use more prescription medicines. Higher rates of diseases like diabetes will increase the demand for prescriptions. Pharmacy technicians will be in higher demand to take on greater roles as pharmacists increasingly perform more patient care duties, like administering flu shots and vaccinations. (BLS)
Pharmacy Technician Certifications are offered to high school students in CTE pharmacy programs.
Health Informatics includes managing medical records relating to medical billing and coding.
The Health Informatics CTE program of study focuses on the management and use of patient information in the healthcare industry. Students learn computerized healthcare and the process of maintaining hospital and patient records, as well as interpreting medical reports.
Medical records and health information specialists organize, manage, and code health information. They use various classification systems to code and categorize patient information for insurance reimbursement, databases, and patients’ medical history records. Medical records and health information jobs are also called medical billing and coding jobs. The annual medical coding salary is about $43,000, while medical billers make about $40,000 in annual earnings. (Best Colleges)
Medical Coding Certification
What is medical coding?
Coding systems inform healthcare providers of how much a patient’s insurance provider will reimburse them. Coding monitors healthcare outcomes and incidences of certain medical conditions and treatments.
The Certified Coding Associate (CCA) label indicates an entry-level medical coder with basic coding competencies. The certification allows associates to work in a physician's office, hospital, or other medical setting. (Learn.org)
CTE medical coding programs offer students the opportunity to earn the title of Certified Coding Associate in high school in order to obtain medical coding jobs in the future.
Medical Billing Specialists
A medical coding and billing specialist acts as a liaison between the medical office and insurance companies, helping the facility manage insurance claims, invoices, and payments. Medical billers do not need certification, but it helps to find employment.
CTE students studying the health informatics cluster can often obtain a Medical Coding and Billing Specialist Certification in high school.
The Medical Therapy pathway can lead students to a future in physical therapy, radiology, or as a respiratory therapist.
The Medical Therapy program teaches biology and medicine to introduce students to skills necessary to work in the healthcare field in careers like Respiratory, Occupational, Physical, or Speech Therapy. CTE learners also practice patient care and communication.
Physical Therapist Programs
What is physical therapy?
A physical therapist (PT) or physical therapy assistant helps patients with daily activities after surgery, injury, accident, or illness. Physical therapists design a therapy plan for each patient, and physical therapist assistants assist the PT by assisting patients with exercises, administering massage, helping patients use equipment, and providing information to patients. (How to Become)
Orthopedic Physical Therapy
An orthopedic PT specializes in diagnosing and treating conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system- the spine, nerves, muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, and cartilage. An orthopedic PT works to integrate the other bodily systems — like the neurological and cardiovascular systems — with the musculoskeletal system to treat injuries appropriately. An Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapist is a Physical Therapist who has received additional training in hands-on techniques. (Naperville)
CTE students can work to earn a Certification in Orthopedic Manual Therapy while in high school in some health science programs.
Respiratory Therapist Education
A respiratory therapist helps patients who are having trouble breathing. Respiratory therapists work under the direction of doctors and treat a range of patients, from premature infants to the elderly. They give patients oxygen, manage ventilators, and administer drugs. (Mayo) Respiratory therapists are required to earn an associate degree, bachelor’s degree, or master’s degree from an accredited respiratory therapist education program. (American Association for Respiratory Care)
The study of Nursing Science teaches pain management and patient care plans in medical programs and training to become an LVN.
CTE’s Nursing Science programs introduce students to the skills related to patient care. CTE students can learn about caring for patients, routine procedures like monitoring vital signs, care plan implementation, medical records maintenance, and pain management.
Medical Assistant Certification
Patient Care Technician Certification
A Patient Care Technician (PCT), or Medical Care Technician, provides basic health care to patients while in a medical facility. Their duties include sanitizing patients’ rooms, monitoring patients’ vital signs, and assisting with patients’ basic needs like feeding and grooming. Patient care technician jobs are similar to those of certified nursing assistants, but PCTs usually have more training. Therefore, PCTs may be responsible for some medical or medication-related care and pain management. (Premier Nursing Academy)
CTE students can work to become an Assistant Certified Patient Care Technician in nursing science programs in high school.
Registered Nurse Training and Licensed Vocational Nurse Training
Registered nurses (RNs) are healthcare professionals that oversee LVNs, nursing assistants, and home health aides, administer care to patients, and coordinate with doctors about treatments for patients. RNs can diagnose medical issues, give IV therapy, and educate patients about treatments.
The difference between an LVN and an RN is that an LVN requires less formal training. An LVN program teaches basic patient care such as patient comfort, vital sign monitoring, IV therapy, and record-keeping. An LVN provides bedside care for patients under the supervision of a registered nurse (RN), doctor, or practitioner.
CTE students interested in nursing can obtain the title of Certified Nurse Aide while in high school.
Medical Records Technician
Medical Records Technicians are responsible for organizing and managing patients’ health information. They ensure paperwork is correct, verify files are accurate and accessible, and certify patient information is secure.
Southwest ISD CTE Health Science Program
The Southwest ISD Health Science program offers hands-on experiences and knowledge about the body and medical field. Staffed and supplied with great teachers and the latest educational medical equipment, CTE students can explore the many pathways in Health Sciences.
Sources and Additional Information for CTE Health Sciences Studies
- US News- What You Can Do with a Health Science Degree
- Texas HOSA
- TEA- Health Science Career Cluster
- Nursing Science Program of Study
- Healthcare Therapeutic Program of Study
- Medical Therapy Program of Study
- Healthcare Diagnostics Program of Study
- Health Informatics Program of Study
- Exercise Science Wellness Program of Study