Types of Career and Technical Education Programs

All jobs require different skillsets. If you are interested in obtaining a specific job, but you are not sure that you have the right skills, you may be a candidate for a career training program.

Career training programs are geared toward boosting a worker’s employability and earnings to make the worker an ideal employee. To learn about career training programs, continue to read the below sections.

What is career and technical education?

Career and technical education, or CTE, provides students with the opportunity to gain the technical skills needed follow specific occupational paths. These programs prepare individuals for employment in fields or labor markets that require certifications as opposed to a college or university degree.

CTE programs are available at many high schools throughout the country, but are also available as postsecondary programs. Postsecondary CTE programs for adults are provided at career schools, as well as most community or junior colleges.

There are two types of career schools, each with its own educational focus. Technical schools provide students with skills through traditional manners of study, often requiring the use of books and manuals to learn the science of a trade and complete courses. Vocational schools use a hands-on approach to career education, focusing more on applied teaching and training methods. Both kinds of career schools provide either a certificate or Associates of Science degree upon completion of a program, as well as the skills students need to become employees in their chosen field.

Career and Technical Education Programs

Career and technical education programs cover a wide variety of career areas, also known as career clusters. Career clusters are the industrial groupings under which programs are categorized. While there are many career clusters, some of the more popular ones are:

  • Agriculture and natural resources – Programs under this category provide technical training in farming, food growth and the fuel and natural resources industries.
  • Engineering and technology – Students in a program of this kind gain the skills needed to work in the engineering and technology industry. This includes the fields of aeronautics, robotics, communication and transportation.
  • Information technology –Commonly referred to as IT, programs in this field prepare students for jobs in computer programming, digital network systems administration and web development.
  • Health science – Programs in health science prepare students for work in medical assistance and aide careers. Programs prepare students to become a dental assistant, pharmacy or laboratory technician, Emergency Medical Responder, Licensed Practical Nurse and more.
  • Law, public safety and security – Students in programs that fall under this category are trained for careers in corrections, emergency services, law enforcement and legal services.

Career education schools usually offer a variety of programs, but there are some schools that focus on training students in a highly specialized field. While some training may be available through local school districts, most certification and licensure programs are only available through vocational or technical colleges.

Some career schools offer trade or vocational programs for students that wish to join a career in skilled labor. Manual laborers like electricians, plumbers and car mechanics require a highly specialized skill set. Most manual labor jobs of this kind require apprenticeships and on-the-job training to gain the necessary skills. Many of these jobs are in high demand and offer lifelong skills that can become useful outside of the workplace. Programs in fields of manual labor are not as flexible as other career programs, but they are ideal for students who are sure of their chosen career path.

Benefits of Career and Technical Education Programs

One of the major benefits of preparing for a career through a technical or vocational education program is the variety of courses offered by institutions. Students may be able to pursue careers they may not have been aware of or would have otherwise not been prepared for. Students that are already working in their field may also benefit from completing a program if licensure or certification is required for

An added benefit of choosing a career school education over a traditional college education is the time it takes to complete a program. Programs of study at technical or vocational schools are shorter than those at colleges, typically lasting between 1 to 2 years. Programs and courses for some positions are even shorter, and can have students ready to go out into their field and begin employment within a few months.

Career schools help students get involved in their chosen work field without the expense of attending a 4-year college or university. CTE programs cost less in general, but they also save students time they would otherwise spend completing a degree. College and university students typically do not enter the work force until they graduate, which takes 4 to 5 years. Technical and vocational school students complete programs much faster, and are able to start earning much sooner than college students.

Finding the Right Program

Finding and enrolling in the right program can be a difficult process. Choosing a program means determining your own needs and interests before searching for schools offering courses in the field that appeals to you. Looking through career school websites, brochures and catalogs can help you learn more about the programs available at prospective schools, but they may not answer all your questions. Before choosing a school and a program, consider the following:

  • Classes – Find out what classes in a program are like. Some programs offer classes that are more hands-on, while others require learning material from a textbook. Ask if class sizes are large or small, or ask to sit on a class when visiting the campus.
  • Costs –Programs at different schools vary in tuition and fees, so it is vital to know how much enrolling in a specific program will cost, including required books and materials. Some schools may offer financial assistance or accept federal aid to cover the cost of tuition.
  • Credentials –Making sure a school is accredited and licensed before enrolling is important. Not all schools that offer career certification programs have the proper accreditation, so a certificate from an unaccredited institution may not be of much help when job searching.
  • Requirements –Each program has its own set of requirements for completion. Look through the required coursework as well as the expected length of a program to be sure it is the right fit.
  • Job placement –Some schools offer career and job placement services while others do not. Choosing a school that does provide these services may be beneficial, as they help students and recent graduates find an internship or job that will aid in launching their careers.

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