The #1 Curriculum and Assessment Partner for Educators

The Importance of Middle and High School CTE Programs

The Importance of Middle and High School CTE Programs

Career and technical education (CTE) programs in middle and high school are rising in popularity, and it’s no wonder why! Not only can these courses help students explore, select, and define a career or field of interest, but also they can support students learn soft skills that are highly prized by the job market.

CTE courses can prepare students for a variety of careers—many that require no postsecondary education—which is vital in an economy where so many jobs only require a high school education (and maybe a certification). CTE programs also help students focus on real-world soft skills that employers today declare that many young people are missing. Skills like leadership, collaboration, and critical thinking are necessary skills taught in CTE courses and programs in addition to career- and pathway-specific skills.

Career and Technical Education in Middle School

In middle school, CTE courses provide opportunities for exploration and skill development. Students can use introductory courses to explore a variety of careers and skills related to a specific pathway or across multiple pathways, helping them identify a career or field that interests them. Many middle school CTE courses also provide opportunities for students to start developing basic career skills, like professional communication skills. These courses also help students develop soft skills, including leadership, collaboration, and an overall positive attitude. By starting these introductory courses in middle school, students can then get a jump start on preparing for a career in high school.

Career and Technical Education in High School

In high school, CTE courses allow for further career investigation and preparation, as well as soft skills development. Application and technical courses within a pathway allow students to move forward within a pathway and deepen their knowledge of their chosen field, which will help them in determining a future career and gaining further skills needed for that career. Application and technical courses can also provide more opportunities to develop those soft skills that employers seek—work ethic, teamwork, and critical thinking. These courses also prepare students for their certification preparation courses.

Certification Preparation Courses

Finally, certification preparation courses are the culminating courses for students’ chosen career pathways. These courses are intended to prepare students for exams that lead to certification. Technical courses provide the deepest knowledge of a chosen career, such as a certified nurse assistant/aide. The certification courses provide specific, detailed career information that is vital to preparing for the certification exams required (or strongly recommended) for a career in students’ chosen fields. Employers seek these certifications, along with the soft skills students have developed in earlier courses.

Looking to expand your library of CTE courses at your middle or high school or learn more about our certification preparation courses? Take a look at the Edmentum course catalog. offering 100+ CTE courses spanning all 16 nationally recognized Career Clusters®.

allison.ireland's picture
Allison Ireland

Allison Ireland is the Director of Product Strategy and Partnerships at Edmentum. She manages content and product partnerships and how they fit into the overall product strategy. A lifelong learner, she has been with Edmentum for 14 years, working in a variety of roles to support the mission of creating successful student outcomes everywhere learning occurs. She comes from a family that prioritized education and learning in all facets of family life, which she is passing on to her own child. Allison has a B.A. in English Literature from Trinity University in San Antonio.