Career Pathways

Career Clusters & Pathways

What is a Career Cluster?

A Career Cluster is a grouping of occupations that are different, but are connected around a common theme. For example, an architect has a different occupation than a carpenter, or a building inspector, but they can all be combined under a theme of designing and building structures, found within the Architecture and Construction career cluster.

Students can use career clusters to investigate a wide range of career choices. As they discover their own interests and abilities they may identify one career cluster that best expresses their area of interest. They can then explore the career pathways contained within that cluster, to begin a plan linking what students learn in school with the knowledge and skills they need to prepare for the demands of postsecondary education, training and the expectations of employers; providing students opportunity to be career ready.

Sixteen career clusters have been recognized nationally that encompass virtually all occupations from entry through professional levels. They provide an organizing tool for identifying career pathways, and a framework to build education programs from secondary school to postsecondary education, training and apprenticeship to provide qualified, skilled individuals for the workplace. The University of Alaska has condensed the sixteen recognized career clusters to fourteen.

Click here to find out more about any of the career clusters below. Click on the career cluster to view suggested general courses high school students should take.

Alaska Tech Prep supports the partnership between post secondary education, training and business and industry, helping schools ensure that students acquire the knowledge and skills necessary for multiple career options within each career cluster.

What is a Career Pathway?

A career pathway provides a student with the way to acquire the personal, academic and technical skills necessary to enter a specific occupation within a career cluster. It helps a student design an education plan that combines K-12 and postsecondary education and training into one integrated program that ends with the knowledge, skills and abilities to successfully enter the workplace as career ready.

The career cluster and pathway approach makes it easier for students to understand the relevance of their required courses and helps them select their courses more wisely. K-12 students can connect their education with their future goals, motivating students to work harder and enroll in more rigorous courses, including Tech Prep courses in high school. Alaska Tech Prep supports the partnership between K-12, post secondary education and training, and business and industry, helping schools ensure that students acquire the knowledge and skills necessary for multiple career options within each career cluster.

Alaska Tech prep utilizes a Program of Study (POS) to identify the coursework and next steps in a career pathway. A POS aligns curriculum between secondary and post secondary institutions to support seamless transitions. A strong POS provides students with career exploration experiences, rigorous academic and technical preparation, and skill upgrades linked to academic credits and industry credentials, providing multiple entry and exit points that span middle school, secondary, postsecondary, adult and workplace education. Programs of Study are also used as a tool for creating individual career plans that identify courses and seamless transitions that lead to an industry-recognized credential, certificate or degree.

Click here to see the connection between Career Clusters and Alaska’s career pathways.

Alaska Tech Prep: Connecting career exploration, rigorous academic and technical skills, and skill upgrades to provide students multiple entry and exit points for life-long career and workforce development.

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