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Career Clusters and Pathways

The Framework

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

The Process

For many students, the Academic and Career Planning (ACP) process leads naturally to a career pathway. In K-12 education, a career pathway is a series of connected career and technical education and training opportunities that move seamlessly into a postsecondary option for a specific career area.

A high school career pathway includes:

  • A sequence of career and technical education courses
  • Opportunities to earn industry-recognized credentials
  • Work-based learning experiences
  • Dual enrollment opportunities
  • Career and technical student organization-related activities

A local career pathway must have at least two of the quality elements listed. A regional career pathway (RCP) also must have at least two of the quality elements. The difference is that the RCP has been vetted by regional collaborative groups of business and industry in the area, is supported by labor market information, and provides a map that can serve as a blueprint for school counselors in conversation with students and families. Take a look at these videos to learn more about the elements of a career pathway.


For questions about this information, contact Karin Smith (608) 267-3161