by Denise Felder ~

When I started working for the state’s Career Technical Education (CTE) leadership a few months ago, I thought I knew what CTE was, but I had no idea.

Like many people, I thought CTE classes were for high school students to learn a manual trade instead of preparing for college. Well, like many people, I thought wrong.

I didn’t know what I didn’t know about CTE.

Career AND College

CTE does prepare students for a career. But it’s not an alternative to college preparation. In fact, all high school CTE programs in Minnesota, known as Programs of Study, are created in partnership with a local college. This partnership is called a consortia.

High school CTE students are well prepared and encouraged to enter college programs that match their career pathway of interest. CTE college graduates are qualified for high-demand jobs with options for advancement and pay increases.

Career Pathways

What is one way to ensure financial security? Advance within a career pathways where you qualify for well-paying jobs.

A career pathway is a group of related occupations. These occupations include entry-level, mid-level and advanced jobs. Participating in a CTE program helps teens and adults find a career pathway that fits their interests, matches their college or job training goals, and leads to high-paying careers.

CTE programs offer students the preparation and guidance needed to enroll in and successfully complete a college certificate, associates, bachelor’s or advanced degree.


For example, a person interested in health care can find an entry-level position as a Home Health Aide or complete short-term training to be a Medical Secretary. With a bit more experience and education, that person can move on to become a Nurse Practitioner or Health Service Manager. Any of these careers can start by taking Health Sciences classes in high school.

I didn’t know how many career options CTE offers a student or job seeker before I started working for CTE — and you probably didn’t either.  Finding the right career pathway to pursue can help a teen, young adult, or adult career changer explore the education or training needed to meet their goals and find the path toward financial security.

Now we all know how CTE helps make that happen.

Celebrate National CTE Month on Facebook and Twitter.

Denise Felder is a career adviser and the Director of Professional Development for Minnesota Career Technical Education.

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