Career Technical Education

The California Department of Education defines Career Technical Education (CTE) as “a program of study that involves a multiyear sequence of courses that integrates core academic knowledge with technical and occupational knowledge to provide students with a pathway to postsecondary education and careers.” Programs of study include coherent and rigorous content aligned with challenging academic standards and relevant career and technical content in a coordinated, unduplicated progression of courses that aligns secondary with postsecondary education.

Students who complete a career pathway take foundation, intermediate, and advanced courses in a single, defined field of study. Students are encouraged to complete an internship in their chosen industry prior to completing their senior years.

A program of CTE study may also lead to articulated community college credit, an industry-recognized credential, a certificate at the postsecondary level, an associate degree, or a baccalaureate degree. More than 60 CTE courses currently meet the University of California’s subject-area admission requirements (the UC a–g requirements). In addition, CTE courses are required in career-themed pathways in the district’s small learning communities, small high schools, and California Partnership Academy programs.

Career Technical Education in California is organized around 15 industry sectors, or groupings of related occupations. San Diego Unified currently offers programs of study in 13 of the state-identified industry sectors:

  • Arts, Media, and Entertainment
  • Building and Construction Trades
  • Business and Finance
  • Education, Child Development, and Family Services
  • Engineering and Architecture
  • Health Science and Medical Technology
  • Hospitality, Tourism, and Recreation
  • Information and Communication Technologies
  • Manufacturing and Product Development
  • Marketing, Sales, and Services
  • Public Services
  • Transportation

Each industry sector offers three or more career pathways. A career pathway is a coherent sequence of rigorous academic and technical courses that allows students to apply academics, develop technical skills, and make industry connections. Course sequences in each pathway prepare students for successful completion of Common Core State Standards, technical standards, and more advanced postsecondary coursework related to the career in which they might be interested.

Each industry sector the district offers, and its corresponding career pathways, is discussed in more detail on the pages that follow. Detailed descriptions of all CTE courses, including pilots and those approved by the Board of Education to be offered at specific schools only, may be found by going to the View Courses tab above.

Resources for information about postsecondary options linked to industry sector career pathways may be found at:

For more information abou tthe district's Career Technical Education program of study and courses, cal the Office of College, Career and Technical education at (858) 503-1740, or visit