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Benefits of Career and Technical Education in High School

Updated: Dec 4, 2020



By: Charde Brown

Jan 30 2019 8:00 PM CST


Texas: Career training certificates have become a big part of education in Texas.

Many high schools have programs where students graduate from high school with a specialized certificate for a particular job industry.

During the 2018 school year, there were talks of doing away with cosmetology certificates, citing "low earning power."

The statistical data on the income of cosmetologists is very skewed.

Many cosmetologists accept cash payments, and there are no accurate records of their yearly income.

Career and technical education programs provide flexibility and, in some cases, the option to set work hours.

Teenage parents and students who help support their families can benefit a great deal from CTE programs.

CTE programs provide a way out for students who do not have the best living situations.

For students that live in foster care, these programs will allow them to become financially independent sooner.



There are reasons outside of income that make career training certificate programs the right choice.

Traditionally, students graduate from high school at the age of 17 or 18.

That is pretty early in life to be entirely sure about their future career.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 30 percent of students change their major at least once in the first three years of college.

Another 10 percent will change their degree two or more times.

The certificate programs allow students to start crossing things off the list of possible career options without going into debt.

In most cases, college is not free.

The opportunity to try out something in a hands-on setting without realizing two years in that they have wasted their money is invaluable. College requires much support in many cases.

It can be difficult to impossible to take on without a moderate support system, particularly if they do not already have a skill.

These CTE certificates create a situation where starving or homeless college students' stereotype loses much validity.

The certificate provides the opportunity to rely on student loans less by attaining an above entry-level job.

Forbes.com called the current state of student loan debt in America a crisis.

The national average of student debt is just over 1.5 trillion dollars divided amongst 44.2 million borrowers.

Student loan debt in America is second to only behind mortgage debt and has a delinquency rate of just over ten percent.

In Texas, the average student borrows $27,001, and 55 percent of students graduate with student debt.

CTE programs provide an avenue by which the student loan debt trap is not a necessary evil.

Then there is the overwhelming number of students that do not ever use their degrees.

According to CNBC.com, 40 percent of students out of college take a job that does not require a degree and may not be in their intended career field.

Ten years into their careers, three-fourths of that 40 percent will still not have put their degree to use.

Rikki Williams is a reservation sales agent and serial entrepreneur with a marketing degree from the University of Columbia.

Williams says that if she had known that college was not the only way to financial freedom, she would have done things differently.

With all the regret Williams has, she is still on the hook for the $45,000 in student debt she has for a degree that she does not use.


When asked if she had the opportunity to go back and pursue a trade, she said she would not have gone to college or pursued a trade. She would have gone straight into entrepreneurship.



Jasmine Anderson, the CTE Culinary program teacher at Davis high school in Houston, says the best thing the students learn from the programs is that there are other options.


After ten years of making regular payments on her student loans, Anderson says that she would not have gone to a 4-year institution if she had known about CTE programs earlier.


In a battle with over $20,000 worth of student debt herself, she understands that college is not the most financially sound decision.


The main benefits seen from CTE programs in high school are higher graduation rates and grade point averages.


When students can choose what they learn about and learn about something they are interested in, they tend to do better.


Nextgenlearning.org also lists community and skills-based learning instead of general knowledge as benefits of CTE programs in high school.

Community finishing a step ahead of the students in traditional high school, building bonds inside of the cohort built around the degree

In traditional high school, everyone has an individual goal, and therefore, they may not see people they know or have bonded with in any of their classes.

In the research for this long list of pros to CTE education in high school, the only con I came across was that students might not give the proper attention to their core studies.

NCES.ED.GOV says that students from CTE programs are as prepared for post-secondary education as their counterparts who attend traditional high school.

There is some minor fluctuation in preparedness based on the CTE certificate they graduated with but nothing significant enough to claim that the CTE program distracted them from core studies.

In this troubling time of student debt, high-interest rates, underemployment, and unemployment, career and technical education certificates are a great option.

In some cases, it creates a way to circumvent the rat race after college and help pay for college.

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