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Understanding Career Clusters and Pathways

Career Clusters and pathways help students think about how to plan a coherent educational path toward a career in which they're interested. They are a high prirority for the Department of Education, per the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act of 2006 (Perkins IV).


Career Clusters
Web site with detailed information about the 16 career clusters and related pathways, including what they are, their purpose, how they were created, and how they are being implemented.

Source: National Association of State Directors of Career and Technical Education

See especially:

  • The 16 Career Clusters
    Describes the 16 career clusters and provides related resources for schools. 

Career Pathways: Critical Components of Implementation
Webcast that discusses how state agencies, community colleges, and K-12 school systems can implement career pathways.The presenters focus in particular on developing effective partnerships and using advisory councils to ensure success.

Source: National Center for Career & Technical Education, 2006


Career Pathways: The New Career Technical Education
Webcast to raise awareness on career clusters and career pathways. The presenters focus on sample plans of study that have been produced for each of the 81 career pathways.
Source: National Center for Career & Technical Education, 2006


Career Pathways Toolkit
Toolkit with information on partnership roles and responsibilities, and employer protocol. Provides sample forms.
Source: Workforce Strategy Center


Improving College Readiness and Success for All Students (PDF) (Word)
Issue paper on ensuring a seamless transition from high school to college.
Source: The Secretary of Education's Commission on the Future of Higher Education, 2005


Resources (cont'd):

Pathways to Student Success (PDF) (Word)
Report that describes the federal career pathways initiative and highlights effective programs in 15 community colleges nationwide.

Source: League for Innovation in the Community College

Understanding Career Pathways
Web site for students, parents and educators that gives an overview of the Career Pathways Program for middle school students and shows how career pathways help them attain their future career goals.

Source: Lehigh County Community Information Consortium

State Models:
Examples of how states are implementing and customizing the career clusters framework:

Nebraska Career Education

Arkansas Career Academy Initiative

Maryland Career Clusters (PDF) (Word)

South Carolina CATE Curriculum Standards by Cluster

Oregon Career Learning Frameworks

Achieve Texas