Career Technical Education: A Road Less Traveled
By Dr. Gina La Monica
As many high school families focus on the college admissions processes, some take a less popular avenue, however equally as prosperous, toward the career technical education (CTE) path. As a past dean of CTE, I became familiar with many exciting areas of study that lead to successful and fulfilling careers.
To obtain a career in a technical field, such as welding or information technology, students complete a certificate or two-year degree at a local community college or private institute. There are over 16 career clusters that are classified in the CTE area offering promising careers. Entering one of these occupations entails completing a certificate, which is comprised of a set of courses, or a two-year degree. Furthermore, many of these majors require an additional city or state exam to earn your certification or license.
In addition, CTE programming is now being offered by technology giants, such as Google and Amazon, where employees can advance their training by completing online certificate programs sponsored by their employers. Those who participate progress quickly up the career ladder by learning in-demand technical skills and knowledge that might not yet be offered at the local community college.
The CTE clusters with the fastest employment growth by percent change in employment are in the following sectors: information technology (23%), health science (21%), human services (19%), law, public safety, corrections and security (14%), and education and training (14%). Whereas the CTE clusters that employ the greatest share of employees include business, marketing, hospitality, health science and transportation according to Georgetown Center on Education and Workforce (2018).
If you are interested in one of these fascinating occupations, complete a career exploration questionnaire to discover your interests and strengths. There are many questionnaires on my Avenues’ website listed below, but you can also find plenty of information on a local community college’s career center website. Spending quality time on these surveys will help you find your passion. Once you know the CTE field you would like to pursue, review the various California community colleges’ websites to find the one that has certificates and/or degrees in this area. Private institutions also offer CTE programming, but they are usually more expensive compared to community colleges. Before enrolling, review the program’s accreditation, job placement rate, and salary of their graduates.
Earning a career technical certificate or degree can lead to a promising career or the beginning steps toward an advanced career or education. With most people changing jobs every five years, permanency in the job market is gone for now. Moreover, the world is changing so quickly that it is difficult to know what skills or knowledge will be in demand let alone the careers, but if you follow your passion, you will be more apt to be happy and successful at whatever you do.
Dr. Gina La Monica has a Doctorate in Education and has worked as a high school counselor, college administrator, and professor at many universities and colleges including the University of California, Los Angeles, California Lutheran University, California State University, Northridge, San Diego State University, etc. She was a tenured professor and an expert in career technical education and adult learning. She currently teaches at a local college and helps students of all ages from kindergarten to the university level with career exploration, college admissions, learning assessment, tutoring, and education plans.