Career Technical Education, also referred to as CTE, is a multi-year sequence of courses that integrates core academic knowledge with technical and occupational knowledge to provide students with a pathway to post-secondary education and careers. CTE programs deliver an enriched educational experience that promotes student interest and academic success, while also developing technical and soft skills training necessary to meet 21st Century workplace demand. Graduates of today’s rigorous and relevant CTE programs are better prepared for high-wage, high-skill and high demand careers.


Integrate core curriculum with hands-on, industry-related project work and skill-building exercises to connect academic work to the real world.

Build Skills

Provide environment to learn and practice skills needed in life and work, such as critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication, and technical skills related to specific career paths.


Create opportunities to observe and apply classroom learning via industry engagement, job shadows, industry-mentored projects, and academic internships.

College and Career Ready

Foster high school and post-secondary partnerships to provide clear pathways to certifications and degrees.

Why is CTE Important?

In 2009, Sonoma County’s Innovation Council report on Economic Development highlighted the need to build a “world-class” workforce based on educational achievement and career training as a top priority. At the Federal level, leaders concerned that the national workforce was losing its global competitiveness identified a critical need to improve STEM education and other skills training required to succeed in the 21st Century workforce. At the same time, employers were sharing their frustration that there was a significant gap between skills required to do their jobs and the current training received by students in the educational system.

Career Technical Education programs deliver many benefits, here are just a few:

  • Connect classroom instruction with applied knowledge and skills to solve real world problems
  • Build important skills in creativity, collaboration, and communication
  • Foster high school and post-secondary partnerships to provide a clear pathway to certifications and degrees
  • Prepare students to be both college AND career ready
  • Teach students technical and life skills that help them become productive citizens of our local economy, ultimately ensuring the long term health and economic competitiveness of our nation

CTE Works For All Students

  1. Middle School students participating in career exploration programs are more likely to develop an achievable educational and career path in high school.
  2. High School students involved in CTE are more engaged, perform better academically, and graduate at higher rates.
  3. College students enrolled in CTE programs are more likely to complete a post-secondary degree/certificate, earn more on average than other associate degree programs, and are prepared for in-demand jobs.
  4. Businesses benefit directly as CTE programs address the needs of high-growth industries and help close the skills gap.

Links To More Information

CTE: Education for a Strong Economy – A fact sheet developed by the Association for Career and Technical Education and the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium

CTE Today! – A fact sheet developed by the Association for Career and Technical Education
CTE Works! – A fact sheet developed by the Association for Career and Technical Education
Career Technical Education’s Role in Drop-out Prevention – A fact sheet developed by the Association for Career and Technical Education
CTE Support Services – A review of services provided by the Sonoma County Office of Education
Career Technical Education – Links to a variety of resources supporting CTE programs of study from the California Department of Education
California Career Pathways Trust – An overview of the California Career Pathways Trust created by Assembly Bill 86