Why Career and Technical Education Benefits High School Students

A recent Forbes headline announced, “Let’s Make the 2020s the Decade of Career and Technical Education.” Today’s career and technical education (CTE) programs are preparing millions of students in the U.S. with the real-world training employers need to solve the skills gap and workforce shortages.

Does preparing students to thrive in business, technical, marketing and other high-demand sectors sound like the career for you? If so, the online Master of Education (M.Ed.) – Career and Technical Education (CTE) program from Eastern Washington University (EWU) can prepare you to provide this impactful workforce training in as few as 14 months.

What is Career and Technical Education?

The first thing to know about CTE is that it is not the vocational education federally funded in 1917 to prepare students for agriculture, home economics, trade and industrial occupations.

Today’s CTE programs develop the academic knowledge, skills and training for high-wage, high-demand careers in 16 career clusters, such as information technology and business management and administration. With dozens of career pathways within these career clusters, CTE programs play a key role in building a talent pipeline for today’s workforce needs.

According to Forbes, 65% of job openings in the U.S. require postsecondary education but not a bachelor’s degree. These are referred to as “middle-skills” jobs. The problem, the article notes, is a shortage of qualified workers at this middle-skill level.

CTE programs can help meet the need for workers with the knowledge and proficiency for middle-skills jobs, which make up much of the labor market.

What Are the Benefits of CTE Programs?

Think back to college. Did you change your major or wish you had? About 30% of bachelor’s degree students change their major at least once. Changing majors may require extra courses, adding to already burdensome college costs.

CTE allows students to explore future careers before investing in postsecondary education. CTE also offers the opportunity to earn college credit and industry-recognized credentials.

For example, information technology programs give students a head start on building the skills for high-paying, in-demand tech jobs such as security analyst and database administrator. In addition, students may graduate with college credit and valuable credentials such as CompTIA certifications.

Business management is another popular CTE program partly due to strong job growth and higher pay. A high school diploma is the entry-level education for some opportunities, such as hotel manager. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth for this occupation is 18%, much faster than the average of 5%. A hotel manager’s median annual pay of $59,430 is well above the median wage for all workers of $45,760 (as of October 2022).

Additional advantages of CTE, according to Advance CTE, include increased high school completion, with more than 75% of students taking a CTE concentration enrolling in postsecondary education. Another benefit is improved job market outcomes, with CTE graduates earning more than those with a bachelor’s degree in some cases

Why Consider Eastern Washington University’s M.Ed. in CTE?

Earning your M.Ed. – CTE from EWU can prepare you to make a difference as a teacher leader in workforce training. Potential career paths for graduates include:

  • Career and technical education teacher
  • Business and marketing teacher
  • Career readiness instructor

Coursework in this M.Ed. – CTE program emphasizes knowledge and skills in essential areas, including strengthening students’ ability to:

  • Identify and address barriers to student success.
  • Develop instructional planning and classroom management strategies for improved student outcomes.
  • Design, assess and create learning opportunities to meet diverse student needs.
  • Recognize workplace trends and coordinate worksite learning.

Coursework also expands students’ understanding of the educational environment for CTE in Washington State, such as aligning programs with high-wage, high-growth local labor demands. Internship opportunities provide real-world experience and help build professional networks.

A career as a CTE educator offers exciting opportunities to provide students with a clear and achievable path to their future careers. By preparing students to meet real-world workforce needs, you will also make a measurable difference to employers and the broader community.

Learn more about EWU’s online M.Ed. – CTE program.

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