Career Clusters and Career Pathway Programs of Study

  • Career Clusters

    The National Career Clusters® Framework serves as an organizing tool for Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs, curriculum design and instruction. There are 16 career clusters in the National Career Clusters® Framework, representing more than 70 Career Pathways to help learners navigate their way to greater success in college and career. The framework also functions as a useful guide in developing programs of study bridging secondary and postsecondary systems and for creating individual student plans of study for a complete range of career options. As such, it helps learners discover their interests and their passions, and empowers them to choose the educational pathway that can lead to success in high school, college and career.

    Career clusters identify groups of occupations in the same field of work that require similar skills. Each cluster contains several smaller groups called career pathways that connect to educational programs, industries and careers. While a career cluster paints a broad picture of a group of occupations, a pathway helps students focus on and develop a clear, more informed educational plan over time. The structure of the National Career Clusters® Framework of 16 career clusters and more than 70 related career pathways supports students’ growing career awareness and exploration.

    For more information on career clusters, visit

    CTE Concentrators 

    Concentrating in CTE can provide students a strong foundation of technical knowledge and employability skills to complement their academic studies and prepare them for both college and career options. To complete a CTE concentration, students must complete an approved career pathway program of study.  Students completing a CTE concentration are designated as “CTE Concentrators” or “CTE Completers” and may be eligible for additional opportunities including:

    • Participation in the National Technical Honor Society
    • Career Endorsement on the North Carolina high school diploma
    • National Career Readiness Certification through ACT WorkKeys® assessment system


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