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Career Clusters and Programs of Study

The Framework

Career Clusters are broad occupational groupings that serve as an organizing tool, categorizing common knowledge and skill sets for secondary and post-secondary education.  Career Clusters use 16 broad groups of occupations and 79 pathways (sub-groups).  As a tool, Career Clusters:

  • blend rigorous academic/technical preparation
  • provide for career development
  • offer options for students to experience all aspects of a business or industry
  • facilitate/assist students and educators with ongoing transitions

The Plan

Programs of Study (POS) are sequences of Academic AND Career Technical Education courses to help students attain a postsecondary degree or industry-recognized certificate or credential within a career cluster/pathway.  At minimum a POS must:

  • Incorporate and align secondary and postsecondary education elements.
  • Include academic and CTE content in a coordinated, non-duplicative progression of courses.
  • Offer the opportunity, where appropriate, for secondary students to acquire postsecondary credits.
  • Lead to an industry-recognized credential or certificate at the postsecondary level, or an associate or baccalaureate degree.

The Process

Career Pathway

A career pathway is a coherent, articulated sequence of rigorous academic and career related courses (the POS), commencing in ninth grade and leading to an associate degree, and/or an industry-recognized certificate or licensure, and/or a baccalaureate and beyond.  Career Pathways in K12 are realized through each district’s Academic and Career Planning process.

A career pathway...

  • is developed, implemented and maintained in partnership among secondary and postsecondary education, business, and employers.
  • is available to all students and designed to lead THROUGH the desired levels of education and training TO rewarding careers.


For questions about this information, contact Robin Kroyer-Kubicek (608) 266-2022