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  • Do your adult clients want to return to college?  
  • Are you trying to efficiently place transition students or Summer Youth in the best work experience sites?  
  • Does your eighth grade class have an objective way to choose a high school major or career path?
  • Are you looking for an effective way for students to self-select and be motivated to pursue STEM career paths?

Background of Career Clusters - Gaining Knowledge in the Context of Careers

The U.S. Department of Education's 16 Career Clusters provide learners with a focus for career-related learning and academic study, and schools or training programs with a way of restructuring curriculum, teaching resources, and how students are grouped.  Students take classes around a particular career field (such as business, health, the arts or technology). Students who select a career cluster learn about that particular field and may also learn general academics (i.e., English, mathematics, social studies and science) in the context of that career field.

Each Career Cluster has within it several Career Pathways, within which there are numerous Career Specialties - each layer requires more specific and advanced skill learning, but skills learned at the Cluster level are usually transferable to most of the Pathways and Specialties within the Cluster.  CareerScope provides an objective way to guide and connect students to Career Clusters and Pathways and Specialties for which they have high interest and aptitude - thus ensuring a higher likelihood of success in school and at work.  

History of Career Clusters Initiative

The Career Clusters Initiative began in 1996 in the U.S. as the Building Linkages Initiative and was a collaborative effort between the U.S. Department of Education, the Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE), the National School-to-Work Office (NSTWO) and the National Skill Standards Board (NSSB). The purpose of the Initiative was to establish linkages among State educational agencies, secondary and postsecondary educational institutions, employers, industry groups, other stakeholders and Federal agencies. The goal was to create curricular frameworks in broad career clusters, designed to prepare students to transition successfully from high school to postsecondary education and employment in a career area. 

The creation of curricular models within the context of broad career clusters ensures the alignment of academic and technical instructional strategies with the requirements of postsecondary education and the expectations of employers in increasingly academic and technologically demanding careers. The vocational education field has historically responded to the needs of the national economy by preparing individuals to enter jobs in demand.  Source Federal Register, December,6, 2000

U.S. DOE Structure of Career Clusters, Pathways and Specialties

Cluster Level  Represents the general skill and knowledge, both academic and technical, that all learners should achieve regardless of their pathway.  There are 16 Career Clusters in the U.S. DOE model:

  1. Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources
  2. Architecture & Construction
  3. Arts, Audio/Video Technology & Communications
  4. Business, Management & Administration
  5. Education & Training
  6. Finance
  7. Government & Public Administration
  8. Health Science
  9. Hospitality & Tourism
  10. Human Services
  11. Information Technology
  12. Law, Public Safety & Security
  13. Manufacturing
  14. Marketing, Sales & Service
  15. Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics - STEM 
  16. Transportation, Distribution & Logistics

Pathway Level Represents the more specific skill and knowledge, both academic and technical, necessary to pursue a full range of career opportunities within a pathway - ranging from entry level to management, including technical and professional career specialties.  There are 78 Career Pathways in the U.S. DOE model.  Examples include: Business Financial Management and Accounting, Health Informatics, Management and Entrepreneurship, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics . . .

Career Specialties Represents U.S. DOE's full range of career opportunities within each pathway.  There are 1800 Career Specialties in the U.S. DOE model.  Examples include Bookeeper, Epidemiologist, Marketing Manager, Geoscientist. . . .

Emerging Best Practice:  CareerScope is an objective and efficient way to identify students with interest and aptitude for STEM - Science, Technology, Engineering and Math - Careers.  The portion of the CareerScope Summary Report below shows that the student's interests and aptitudes are aligned with 94% of the Career Specialties found in the Science and Mathematics Pathway within the STEM Cluster.  A great tool for allowing students to self-select and stay motivated for pursuing a STEM Pathway through High School and College.



Top Picks of Career Clusters Web Resources

U. S. Department of Labor's O*NET crosswalk to U.S. Department of Education's Career Clusters and Pathways at http://online.onetcenter.org/find/career 

STEM Careers listed at U. S. Department of Labor's O*NET crosswalk to U.S. Department of Education's Career Clusters and Pathways at  http://www.onetonline.org/find/career?c=15

Free access to Career Cluster Videos at http://www.acinet.org/videos_by_cluster.asp?id=,14&nodeid=28

To see more about Aptitude testing, click http://www.theworksuite.com/id15.html

See more about CareerScope, the assessment used to create the above sample career planning report, at the nonprofit Vocational Research Institute web site:  www.vri.org    

An excellent, practical application of Career Clusters can be seen at Missouri's education web site: http://dese.mo.gov/divcareered/career_clusters.htm

More links and info at Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Career_Clusters

Click to download a one-page Word document showing the 16 Career Clusters and their associated Career Pathways