For many students, attending a four-year college is the natural next step following high school. But countless career opportunities exist outside of the traditional university pathway.
Depending on the type of career a person is interested in pursuing, career and technical education (CTE) programs, like those offered through a state college or career/technical institution, may be a smart choice.
With February designated as National Career and Technical Education Month®, this is a great time to take a look at this educational option.
What is CTE?
Through CTE programs, students can earn industry-recognized credentials, post-secondary certificates, and even two- and four-year degrees. These certifications help prepare students to enter the workforce or pursue further educational opportunities. One of the major benefits of CTE programs is that they often take less time to complete than a college degree, and at a lower cost. With shortages of skilled workers already affecting some industries in Tampa Bay, CTE has also been recognized as a key way to address the needs of industries and help close the skills gap in Florida.
In Florida, CTE programs are organized into 17 different “career clusters,” like agriculture, education and health science. Programs are offered for middle school, high school, technical school, and Florida College System students throughout the state.
Graduating from a CTE program doesn’t mean giving up competitive pay or ample job openings. According to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, just 34 percent of the 50 fastest-growing occupations in Florida require a four-year college degree or higher. The majority (54 percent) of these occupations only require a post-secondary adult vocational certificate or associate degree. Health care, information technology and building and construction are just a few examples of the high-demand career fields available to those who complete certificate and on-the-job training programs.
Resources and Next Steps
- To learn if career and technical education is right for you, a great first step is to identify your career interests. Taking a career assessment can be helpful. Read more about how to narrow down your career options>>
- For high school students, enrolling in CTE courses at your school can help you explore career options. These courses may even count toward a college degree. Ask your school counselor about classes that are available.
- Paying for schooling is often one of the top concerns for people looking to further their education. Financial aid is not just for traditional university students, however. Federal aid and state and local scholarships are available to students who attend technical/career colleges. Learn more about financial aid opportunities and how to apply>>
- Different schools offer varying career and technical programs. An in-person tour of your top choices can help you get a feel for the campus. A number of schools in the Tampa Bay area offer certificate programs for high-demand careers:
Need more help? Check out our full list of education and career planning resources>>