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Career Clusters. Sheila Anderson May 14, 2008. What are Career Clusters?. The U.S. Department of Education Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) has identified 16 career clusters representing career opportunities for the 21st century economy.

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career clusters

Career Clusters

Sheila Anderson

May 14, 2008

what are career clusters
What are Career Clusters?
  • The U.S. Department of Education Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) has identified 16 career clusters representing career opportunities for the 21st century economy.
  • These groupings of occupations and industries are used as an organizing tool for Curriculum Design and as part of a Career Guidance Model.

The States’ Career Cluster Initiative

Charles Losh, Ph.D.

importance of career clusters
Importance of Career Clusters

"Career clusters assist counselors in individualizing students' education plans to help students achieve career goals."

-Nancy Fleming, Assistant Superintendent, David (UT) School District

“Our 16 broad career clusters will help students enhance the link between the knowledge they acquire in school and the skills they need to pursue their dreams.  Without limiting students, career clusters help them focus on an area of interest or a possible career path."

-Richard W. Riley, Former U.S. Secretary of Education

the 16 career clusters
The 16 Career Clusters
  • Agriculture, Food &Natural Resources
  • Hospitality & Tourism
  • Architecture & Construction
  • Arts, AV Tech & Communications
  • Information Technology
  • Business, Management & Administration
  • Law, Public Safety, Corrections & Security
  • Education & Training
  • Manufacturing
  • Finance
  • Marketing Sales & Services
  • Government & Public Administration
  • Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics
  • Health Science
  • Transportation, Distribution & Logistics
  • Human Services
why implement career clusters
Why Implement Career Clusters?

College and Career Preparation

  • The nature of work in the 21st century has been transformed by technology and global competition. Tomorrow's jobs will require more knowledge, better skills, and more flexible workers than ever before. 
  • Tomorrow's workers must be prepared to change jobs and careers several times, continually updating their knowledge and skills.
  • Career clusters link what students learn in school with the knowledge and skills they need for success in college and careers.
  • Career clusters identify pathways from secondary school to two- and four-year colleges, graduate school, and the workplace, so students can learn in school and what they can do in the future.

what are the benefits of career clusters for students
What are the benefits of Career Clusters for students?
  • Leads to the development of Personal Learning Plans (PLP) for all students
  • Connects learners interests with relevant coursework
  • Assists students with transitions from one level of education to the next
other benefits of career clusters
Other Benefits of Career Clusters
  • Schools and the courses they offer can be organized around the clusters.
  • Teachers can gauge the skills of students entering specific career programs.
  • Employers and industries can partner with schools to contribute to the development of high standards and good prospective employees
  • Guidance counselors can use the clusters to help students explore future plans.

career clusters outcomes
Career Clusters Outcomes
  • Explore multiple career options available within the 16 Career Clusters.
  • Experience enhanced academic and technical achievement through real world application.
  • Pursue a rigorous academic and technical Program of Study.
  • Generate a Personal Learning Plan.
  • Translate skills and interests into one or more Career Cluster and successfully transition from Secondary to Post-secondary Education, Training, and or Career.
  • Build a pool of qualified human resources.
  • Develop a framework and organization tool for rigorous courses.

what does implementation look like
What Does Implementation Look Like?
  • Career Guidance System K-12 through Post-secondary
  • Personal Learning Plan
  • Program of Study
  • Curriculum Development
personal learning plans
Personal Learning Plans
  • A Personal Learning Plan is a roadmap to the future. After identifying a career cluster (or a few), a student outlines what courses he/she will take in high school and what post-secondary schooling will be needed. This includes required courses and electives.
  • The plan should be visited and revised on a regular basis.
designing a personal learning plan
Designing a Personal Learning Plan
  • Students assess interests and aptitudes.

This can be done using Guidance Central assessments at

Career cluster assessments are also available-see sample on next page.


Sample of Career Cluster Assessment

Taken from My Life Teacher’s Guide


South Dakota DOE Sample


Program of Study

personal learning plans questions to ask
Personal Learning Plans, Questions to Ask
  • What are the post-secondary requirements?
  • What secondary courses are available at my school?
  • What secondary courses are available virtually?
  • What capstone experiences can you become involved in?
    • job shadow, internships, senior project, etc.
resources for career cluster implementation
Resources for Career Cluster Implementation
  • My Life publication provided by the State of South Dakota