Career and technical education (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.
Texas is one of the most straight-forward states when it comes to career clusters and pathways.
Here, we’ll dive into CTE in Texas, specifically regarding the Texas career clusters.
In Texas, CTE is made up of 16 career clusters:
On this page we’ll go into the details of each career cluster to see how Texas approaches CTE in comparison to the rest of the US.
We’ll also discuss the next big thing for CTE in Texas.
But first, let’s take a look at how CTE works in Texas.
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.
In addition to the courses and certification programs, students interested in pursuing a career in one of the clusters can choose to join a career and technical student organization (CTSO).
Now that you know the basics of CTE in Texas, let’s talk about the 16 career clusters!
In Texas, the Agriculture, Food, & Natural Resources (AFNR) career cluster is focused on “the essential elements of life -- food, water, land, and air.”
The AFNR cluster in Texas directly aligns with the national one and includes these seven pathways:
Within those pathways, there are more than 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.
The Architecture & Construction career cluster prepares students for careers that involve planning, building, or maintaining a built structure.
In Texas, the cluster has three pathways, which line up with the national ones:
Within those pathways, there are more than 30 courses for students to choose. 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.
Unlike the AFNR career cluster, there are not specific CTSOs for students in Architecture & Construction. However, the TEA suggests that students consider joining SkillsUSA Texas or the Texas Technology Student Association (TSA).
Students in the Arts, A/V Technology, & Communications (AAVTC) career cluster can choose one of six pathways related to arts, design, journalism, and entertainment services:
In Texas, these pathways directly line up with the national AAVTC career cluster pathways and includes more than 40 courses.
Like the Architecture & Construction cluster, there is no dedicated CTSO for the AAVTC cluster, but students can choose to join SkillsUSA Texas or the Texas TSA.
In Texas, the Business Management & Administration cluster is dedicated to teaching students about “careers in planning, organizing, directing, and evaluating business functions.”
The cluster is made up of five pathways:
Within those pathways, students can choose from 14 courses, with the most common one being Business Information Management I.
In terms of CTSOs, students in this cluster have three great options: Texas Business Professionals of America (Texas BPA), Texas Future Business Leaders of America - Phi Beta Lambda (Texas FBLA-PBL), and Texas DECA.
The Education & Training career cluster prepares students for careers in public education or training and support services.
Because this cluster is so specialized compared to some of the others, there are only five courses across these three pathways:
The TEA lists two CTSOs that closely align with the Education & Training cluster: Texas Family, Career, & Community Leaders of America (Texas FCCLA) and the Texas Association of Future Educators (Texas TAFE).
The Finance career cluster in Texas has the same five pathways as the national cluster:
Within those pathways, there are nine courses listed by the TEA. While there are no CTSOs specific to the Finance cluster, students can join the Texas BPA, Texas FBLA-PBL, and Texas DECA.
The Government & Public Administration career cluster prepares students for careers involved in governmental functions, such as governance, foreign services, regulations, and national security.
In Texas, the cluster includes the same seven pathways as the national cluster:
Students can choose from 10 courses in this cluster, with different options for each pathway.
There are no specific CTSOs for students in the Government & Public Administration cluster, but the TEA suggests students join Texas BPA or SkillsUSA Texas.
The Health Science career cluster in Texas has the same pathways as the national cluster:
In Texas, there are more than 10 health science courses, with the most popular being introductory ones like Principles of Health Science and Medical Terminology.
The CTSO dedicated to the Health Science cluster is the Texas Health Occupations Students of America organization (Texas HOSA).
The Hospitality & Tourism cluster has four pathways related to careers in food services and recreation:
In Texas, there are more than 10 courses across the pathways -- many of which are upper level practicum courses.
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.
In Texas, the Human Services career cluster aligns with the national one and includes these five pathways:
Within those pathways, students in Texas can choose from more than 10 courses related to careers in human services.
There are no dedicated CTSOs for this cluster, but the TEA recommends that interested students join Texas FCCLA or SkillsUSA Texas.
The Information Technology (IT) career cluster prepare students for careers involved in creating and managing hardware, software, and digital media.
The IT cluster in Texas includes the four national pathways:
In total there are 13 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.
The Texas Law, Public Safety, Corrections, & Security cluster aligns directly with national cluster and is made up of five pathways:
There are more than 10 course options to choose from, ranging from careers in firefighting to forensic science.
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 processes and maintenance.
In Texas, there are 16 courses across six career cluster pathways:
Most of those courses fall under careers related to the production pathway, such as welding and metal fabrication.
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.
In Texas, the Marketing career cluster lines up directly with the national cluster and includes five pathways:
Other than the Education & Training cluster, Marketing has the fewest courses with only eight that students can choose.
Additionally, there are no CTSOs specifically for students in the Marketing cluster, but the most relevant ones are Texas BPA, Texas DECA, and Texas FBLA-PBL.
The Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (STEM) cluster is made up of two pathways:
In Texas, those pathways align with the national pathways and include more than 15 courses for students.
Students in the STEM cluster who are interested in joining a CTSO can choose between the Texas TSA and SkillsUSA Texas.
The Transportation, Distribution, & Logistics (TDL) career cluster prepares students for careers related to “planning, management, and movement of people, materials, and goods” by various methods.
The cluster in Texas lines up with the national one and is made up of seven pathways:
There are more than 20 courses to choose from in the TDL cluster, which is the second highest number of courses behind the AAVTC cluster.
There are no CTSOs dedicated to the TDL cluster, but the TEA recommends that students join either SkillsUSA Texas or the Texas TSA.
Now that we’ve gone over the 16 Texas career clusters, let’s discuss the next big thing in Texas CTE -- digital curriculum.
With more and more students entering CTE programs in Texas, the workload for teachers, coordinators, and administrators is growing.
To keep up, you need to retain your best teachers by giving them the tools to hit TEKS standards, keep up with industry changes, and stay effective in the classroom.
That’s why so many Texas CTE teachers have embraced digital curriculum.
A digital curriculum is an online software built to empower CTE teachers and help their students succeed.
With hundreds of ready-to-use resources, classroom management tools, and automatic student tracking, digital curriculum is everything a teacher needs to have a successful CTE program.
Because it’s online, digital curriculum is quickly updated when TEKS course standards change. That means you can rest easy knowing you’re meeting your requirements AND your students are getting a relevant education.
Hundreds of CTE teachers in Texas are already taking advantage of digital curriculum in their classroom.
Don’t miss out on taking your program to the next level. Learn more about digital curriculum today!