With past experience in teaching, a couple of degrees in writing, and an upbringing immersed in medical jargon, Mike is positioned well to hear out the most common questions teachers ask about the AES curriculum. His goal is to write content that quickly and effectively answers these questions so you can back to what matters - teaching your students.
As a career and technical education instructor, you know that CTE is found all across the United States -- in every state and most school districts.
On the national level, CTE is made up of 16 career clusters, which all have a varying number of career pathways. Every state uses the national clusters and pathways as foundations for their own CTE regulations, but they also make some changes to better fit the needs of their state.
Though Texas is one of the most straightforward states when it comes to career clusters and pathways, they’ve made some important changes for the 2020/2021 school year that you should be aware of if you want to stay on top of things.
In this article, we’ll dive into the 14 Texas CTE career clusters to give you a better understanding of each and recent updates they’ve had:
Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources
Architecture and Construction
Arts, Audio/Video Technology, and Communications
Business, Marketing, and Finance
Education and Training
Hospitality and Tourism
Law and Public Service
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics
By the end of this article, you’ll have the most up-to-date information on what the Texas career clusters are and how they’ve changed.
An Overview of Texas Career and Technical Education
The Texas Education Agency (TEA) specifically wants to help educators “provide high quality career and technical programs for students.”
To accomplish this, all Texas CTE courses have specific Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) standards, which students must successfully meet. The TEKS standards are frequently reviewed to keep up with changes in different industries and ensure students are prepared for their future careers.
Depending on the career cluster and pathway a student chooses, they may need to pass an industry certification exam in order to work in the field, which also plays a role in what they have to learn.
One of the most important changes Texas has recently made is the reduction of their number of career clusters. Texas no longer has 16 career clusters, but has reduced that number to 14 by combining certain clusters together.
Now that you know the basics of CTE in Texas, let’s talk about the 14 career clusters!
Within those pathways, there are around 30 courses in the Texas AFNR career cluster.
At the national level, the CTSO open for students in the AFNR cluster is the National FFA Organization. Students in Texas can join the Texas FFA, which is a state-specific version of the national association.
2. Architecture and Construction
The Architecture & Construction career cluster prepares students for careers that involve designing, planning, managing, building, or maintaining a built structure.
In Texas, the cluster currently has seven pathways:
Construction Management and Inspection
HVAC and Sheet Metal
Plumbing and Pipefitting
Within those pathways, there are more than 30 courses for students to choose from. All students start by taking Principles of Architecture to get an overview of the various careers available and help them decide which pathway to pursue.
This cluster prepares students for careers in designing, planning, maintaining, transmitting, and distributing traditional and alternative energy, and is divided into two programs of study:
Oil and Gas Exploration and Production
Refining and Chemical Processes
There are 15 courses available to choose from in the Energy cluster, including introductory courses like Foundations of Energy.
7. Health Science
The Health Science career clustertrains students in providing therapeutic services, diagnostics services, health informatics, and biotechnology research and development. It is currently divided into six pathways:
Exercise Science and Wellness
With the expansion of the health science career pathways, you'll find 33 health science courses in Texas.
The Hospitality and Tourism cluster specializes in teaching students the management, marketing, and operations of restaurants, lodging, attractions, and travel-related services. It is currently divided into three pathways:
Lodging and Resort Management
Travel, Tourism, and Attractions
Unlike the Health Science cluster, there are no specific CTSOs for Hospitality & Tourism. However, students can choose one of the more general organizations such as Texas FCCLA, Texas DECA, or SkillsUSA Texas.
9. Human Services
In Texas, the Human Services career cluster prepares individuals for careers in counseling, mental health services, family and community services, personal care services, and more. It is now divided into two pathways:
Family and Community Services
Health and Services
There are no dedicated CTSOs for this cluster, but the TEA recommends that interested students join Texas FCCLA or SkillsUSA Texas.
10. Information Technology
The Information Technology (IT) career cluster prepares students for careers involved in creating and managing hardware, software, and digital media.
The IT cluster in Texas currently includes three pathways:
Information Technology Support and Services
There are more than a dozen courses in Texas related to careers in IT, with Principles of Information Technology being one of the most popular.
A good CTSO for students in the IT cluster to join is the Texas TSA.
11. Law and Public Service
The Law and Public Service cluster is a new addition, created by combining the Government cluster with the Law and Public Safety cluster.
This cluster specializes in planning, managing, and providing legal, public safety, and protective services. It is divided into four pathways:
Government and Public Administration
This cluster doesn’t have a specific CTSO, but the TEA suggests that interested students join SkillsUSA Texas.
The Manufacturing career cluster prepares students for careers related to different areas of production, including the processing of materials into final products, or the maintenance of final products.
In Texas, there are three current career cluster pathways:
Advanced Manufacturing and Machinery Mechanics
As with some of the other career clusters in Texas, there are no dedicated CTSOs for students in the Manufacturing cluster. However, they can choose to join SkillsUSA Texas.
13. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics