What is Career and Technical Education?

Nichole Thiel
Nichole Thiel

An active member of the National Education Association, school administrator Nichole Thiel previously served as a vice principal and dean’s assistant in elementary school and higher education. Nichole Thiel graduated with a master’s degree in career and technical education (CTE) and spent more than a decade helping students navigate their post-school career options as a CTE teacher.

CTE programs have regained popularity in secondary and post-secondary institutions as a reaction to the need for technically-skilled workers and the rising number of students who enter college but leave before obtaining a degree.

Effective CTE programs offer a rigorous curriculum aligned with up-to-date industry needs. High school programs usually combine technical training with core academic subjects, while CTE certification programs enable students to specialize in specific subjects. CTE programs may offer concentrations in engineering, business, cosmetology, or welding.

Most CTEs partner with the local private sector to arrange internships, hands-on experience, and post-program employment opportunities. According to federal data, the number of high school students enrolled in CTE courses rose by nearly one million between 2007 and 2017. Most CTE post-secondary training programs are cheaper than a traditional four-year degree. However, graduates can make equal to or greater than their college-educated peers.