Career and Technical Education: Is it Right for You?

Discussion of the rising costs of college are usually met with the implication that college “isn’t worth it.” However, there are numerous pathways to career training that are worth considering, even if one doesn’t prefer the standard four-year education path.

Case in point: career and technical education. These fields, such as trade schools and vocational programs, are collectively known as CTE and comprise a huge percentage of post-high school student programs.

What is CTE?

In short, CTE is academically-intensive coursework aimed at getting students quickly armed with the knowledge and skills they need to tackle work in a fast-paced and specialized environment. The modern CTE program looks a lot like vocational education that would have been seen in decades prior. Trade schools have largely shifted to a more CTE-like approach over the past few years.

CTE students tend to be primarily focused on very specific fields. While college courses tend to emphasize that numerous fields of study are important to receive a degree, CTE certification can be much more specific.

What are the Benefits of CTE?

CTE covers, specifically, studies that are intended to get students into a job when the training is over. Rather than being something meant to equip them for a wide variety of roles, CTE is specialized. This is a double-edged sword.

On the one hand, students with CTE in a sought-after field, like culinary work or welding, will find work quickly and be able to start making money right away. On the other hand, it somewhat locks them in to their career path. Rather than the flexibility afforded by a college degree, they have their specialized certification for a specific job task.

Is CTE Worth it?

Career and technical education programs aren’t for everyone. If you don’t have a specific field of employment picked out that you’d like to focus on, CTE can seem overly restrictive. Many prefer the more open-ended and flexible nature of a college degree.

However, for those with a specific passion and drive to tackle a field of employment they are excited about, CTE is ideal. Not only will those students save money, they will likely complete their certification more quickly than if they were seeking a degree. This, in turn, means they can start earning faster.