Career and technical education–commonly known as career-tech ed or CTE–describes classes that are designed to prepare students for work.
In some ways, it’s not that different. In many high schools, you can still find the same voc-ed classes that existed half a century ago. They prepare students for jobs that don’t typically require college degrees, such as child care, welding, cosmetology, or plumbing.
But in important ways, CTE is very different than your grandfather’s voc-ed. Many programs now focus on areas typically associated with an associate or bachelor’s degrees, such as engineering or business. Because career-tech-ed classes of all kinds are increasingly seen as roads to additional study after high school, they are meant to be more academically rigorous than those of a previous generation.