7 Common Misconceptions about Career and Technical Education

By Brooke Neal, Contributing Editor


All too often, career and technical education is described as an inferior alternative to a college education. There are many common misconceptions about career and technical education that contribute to this view.  In reality, it is a viable option for students for many reasons.

Here are a few common misconceptions about career and technical education:

7misconceptionsofCTE-123rf280297491.       You can’t get a degree from a career and technical school.

In addition to certificates and diplomas, many career and technical schools offer 2- and even 4-year degrees.  In fact, CTE schools prepare students for higher education, as many students go on to continue their education at a university.

2.       You will earn less money than someone with a 4-year degree.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, occupations taught at technical schools are in the second-highest bracket in national earnings. On their website you can also find a list of 50 occupations achieved through career and technical education with median annual salaries ranging from $40,000 – $77,000. Thus, depending on what kind of job you want to get, the potential is there for you to earn as much or more than those with bachelor’s degrees.

3.       4-year colleges provide a better education and better training for the real-world.

While you can get an excellent education at a 4-year college, it is not necessarily better than career and technical training.  Career and technical schools equip you with specific occupational skills for a specific career.  More than likely, these classes provide skills and training that you can’t get at a university. Not to mention, these programs are taught by experienced instructors who have spent several years working in their respective industries.

4.       Career and technical schools are only for those who can’t cut it in high school or college.

There are many statistics to backup that this statement couldn’t be further from the truth. According to career and technical education data from Nevada’s schools, students in a career and technical program consistently scored higher on high school proficiency exams.

  • 82% of career and technical students passed the math portion as compared to 73% overall.
  • 84% of career and technical students passed the reading portion as compared to 77% overall.
  • The dropout rate of career and technical students was 1.72% compared to the overall rate of 4.1%.

5.       Career and technical education does not look good on your resume.

Many employers today are having difficulty finding employees with the 21st century skills needed in today’s workplace. Creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication are all important qualities employers are looking for. Career and technical education programs teach these necessary skills, and many employers are happy to see this experience listed on your resume.

6.       You cannot get financial aid for career and technical education programs.

Government programs and private organizations both offer student aid through scholarships, grants, and loans.  Scholarships are often specific to a school or program, so it is important to know what you are interested in and where you might what to go to school.  CollegeScholarships.org, USA.gov, the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE), and even Home Depot and Coca Cola all offer some type of financial aid for CTE programs.

7.       Career and technical education is less challenging than a 4-year college.

Career and technical education approaches learning from a different angle.  That doesn’t mean it is necessarily less challenging.  It is just different.  Career and technical programs use more hands-on learning strategies and specific skills training.  Some programs even only accept a limited number of students each year.





Posted in At-Risk Youth, Career and Technical Education, Education by craig.templeman at October 6th, 2014.

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