WASHINGTON — Today, the U.S. Department of Education released a new interactive data story that illustrates career and technical education in American high schools and outcomes for students who participate in these programs. The data shows that CTE participation, especially focusing one's studies by taking two or more CTE classes within the same career cluster, is positively correlated with both future employment and future earnings.
While 77% of students take at least one CTE class while in high school, only 37% of participants focus their studies on a single career cluster. Eight years after their expected graduation dates, students who focused on CTE courses while in high school had higher median annual earnings than students who did not.
The top three most prevalent career clusters in the nation's high schools were: (1) Arts, Audio-Visual Technology, and Communication; (2) Business Management and Administration; and (3) Health Science.
The data story is a compact resource for learning more about CTE at the national and state levels. Highlights include:
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) in CTE are critical subjects for the U.S. economy, and STEM and STEM-related career clusters represent one-third of all CTE concentrations in high school (35 percent). The percentage of concentrations in STEM and STEM-related career clusters varies widely by state.
About three-fourths of all public school districts offer dual credit in CTE, that is, any CTE course that can earn both high school and postsecondary credit (73 percent). The percentage of public school districts that offer dual credit CTE courses is higher among districts with larger enrollments and in cities.
Descriptive data related to the education and labor market outcomes of CTE concentrators and non-CTE concentrators show more favorable outcomes for CTE concentrators. For example, the median annual earnings eight years after high school graduation are $23,950 for CTE concentrators compared to $20,015 for non-concentrators—a difference of nearly $4,000.
"CTE opens pathways to success for students whether they choose to pursue postsecondary education or enter the workforce after high school," said Scott Stump, Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical and Adult Education. "These data show that students who concentrate in a high-demand CTE field, such as STEM or health sciences, go on to reap benefits from their studies long after graduation."