Career and Technical Education (Vocational Education)


The term Career and Technical Education refers to programs that prepare students to enter the workforce with the vocational skills they need to be successful.  Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs prepare high school students to enter a profession through a combination of technical knowledge and classroom education.


Formerly known as Vocational Education, Career and Technical Education programs help prepare high school students to enter the workforce by providing them with the vocational skills and academic knowledge they need to succeed.  CTE programs typically involve competency-based learning, which means the student is allowed to progress through the curriculum at their individual pace.

Secondary and post-secondary institutions are required by state and federal-level legislation to offer at least one approved CTE program leading to an industry credential, certificate, technical skill or degree.  CTE programs must also:

  • Use CTE certified instructors to teach their programs.
  • Provide an organized sequence of instruction.
  • Allow students to gain work experience, while connecting classroom activity to their work experience.
  • Audit performance annually, to ensure the program meets all of the requirements of CTE certification.

Examples of Career and Technical Education programs include: agriscience, multimedia technologies, graphics art and design, cosmetology, culinary arts, information technology, bioscience, law and public safety, installation and maintenance of electrical systems, nursing science, financial services, health services, hospitality management, design and merchandising, automotive repair, and entrepreneurship.

Related Terms

entrance counseling, adult education program, apprenticeship, advanced placement, College-Level Examination Program, concurrent enrollment, deferred admission