Career Pathways

Career Pathways is a workforce development strategy used in the United States to support workers’ transitions from education into and through the workforce. This strategy has been adopted at the federal, state and local levels in order to increase education, training and learning opportunities for America’s current and emerging workforce.

Career pathways are an integrated collection of programs and services intended to develop students’ core academic, technical and employability skills; provide them with continuous education, training; and place them in high-demand, high-opportunity jobs.

A career pathways initiative consists of a partnership among community colleges, primary and secondary schools, workforce and economic development agencies, employers, labor groups and social service providers.

Community colleges coordinate occupational training, remediation, academic credentialing, and transfer preparation for career pathways initiatives.

Career pathways models have been adopted at the federal, state and local levels. Given their cross-system nature, states often combine multiple federal streams to fund different elements of career pathways models.

Career Pathways in Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources

Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources Career Cluster

Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources Career Cluster

There are seven career pathways in this cluster: agribusiness systems; animal systems; food products and processing systems; environmental service systems; natural resources systems; plant systems; and power, structural, and technical systems. Each pathway calls for a unique set of skills and competencies.

Agribusiness Systems Career Path

This area deals with the business side of agriculture, including the marketing, financing, and production of agricultural products. Examples of careers in this area include agribusiness technicians and buyers.

Animal Systems Career Path

Workers in this area focus on producing the highest quality meat, poultry, and fish products. They may study an animal’s genetic makeup to produce leaner meat, or they may inspect and grade meat and poultry before it is delivered to a supermarket. Examples of animal systems careers include farmers and animal breeders and technicians.

Environmental Service Systems Career Path

People in this area focus on public health issues by monitoring and fighting pollution to ensuring the safe removal of hazardous wastes. Some careers in this area include air quality engineers and hazardous waste management technicians.

Food Products and Processing Systems Career Path

Food products and processing workers research and develop new sources of food, analyze food content, and store and package food according to government regulations. Examples of careers include food technologist, meat packers, and meat cutters.

Natural Resources Systems Career Path

Careers in natural resources have responsibilities ranging from studying and protecting the natural environment to catching and trapping animals for human consumption. Some natural resources careers include cartographers and fishers.

Plant Systems Career Path

People in the plant systems pathway specialize in the growth and maintenance of plants. They use this knowledge to help others produce high quality, high yield crops. Examples of plant systems careers are botanists and landscapers.

Power, Structural, and Technical Systems Career Path

People in this area apply technical and mechanical knowledge to the field of agriculture. They may repair farm machinery, design ventilation systems for agricultural facilities, or maintain computer databases that are used in agricultural research. Examples of careers in this pathway include agricultural engineers, welders, and welding technicians.

Read more about Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources Career Cluster.

Career Pathways in Architecture and Construction

Architecture and Construction Career Cluster

Architecture and Construction Career Cluster

There are three pathways in the architecture and construction field: construction, design/pre-construction, and maintenance/operations.

Construction Career Path

People in this area turn plans into reality. Depending on the area in which they work, they build, renovate, and restore houses, office buildings, factories, bridges, highways, and just about any other structure. Many of the jobs in this area require a training or apprenticeship period, and some require a two- or four-year degree. Examples of careers in construction include construction inspectors, construction laborers, landscape architects, plumbers, and sheet metal workers.

Design/Pre-construction Career Path

People in this area take the idea for a structure and turn it into a set of detailed plans. Once a construction project gets underway, other workers use these plans as the basis for their work. Most states require people in this area to pass certain tests and obtain a license. Careers in design/pre-construction include architects, city planners, civil engineers, computer-aided design technicians, cost estimators, and surveyors.

Maintenance/Operations Career Path

People who work in this area keep buildings and other structures running smoothly. They ensure that a structure meets all government codes and that it is safe and comfortable for those who use it. Some of the jobs in this field overlap with those in construction, but people in maintenance/ operations work on structures that have already been completed. Examples of careers in this area are electricians, elevator installers and repairers, floor covering installers, heating and cooling technicians, and janitors and cleaners.

Read more about Architecture and Construction Career Cluster.

Career Pathways in Arts, Audio-video Technology, and Communication

Arts, Audio-video Technology, and Communication Career Cluster

Arts, Audio-video Technology, and Communication Career Cluster

There are six career pathways in this cluster: audio-video technology and fi lm, journalism and broadcasting, performing arts, printing technology, telecommunications, and visual arts.

Audio-Video Technology and Film Career Path

People in this area work with equipment that transmits audio and video images to people through television, film, radio, and other means of communication. Workers in this area can design, install, repair, or monitor the use of such equipment in film and television studios, businesses, concert venues and stadiums, and many other settings. Careers in audio-video technology and fi lm include audio engineers, electronics service technicians, and multimedia sound workers.

Journalism and Broadcasting Career Path

Working from a story idea that they are either assigned or come up with themselves, journalists gather information on the topic from various sources, check and verify all of their facts, and write stories for print, radio, television, or online release. Broadcast workers purchase, install, test, and operate the equipment that makes television, radio, fi lm, and Web broadcasts happen. Jobs in this category include audio recording engineers, broadcast engineers, news anchors, newspaper editors, and radio and television program directors.

Performing Arts Career Path

This category includes all of the careers that make films, plays, and music and dance performances a reality. This includes the production companies that plan the events, the agents that hire talent, the performers themselves, and the technicians that create the lighting, makeup, and costumes that a performance requires. Careers in this area include actors, costume designers, music agents and scouts, and music conductors and directors.

Printing Technology Career Path

Careers in this area deal with the creation of books, magazines, and newspapers from raw manuscript or electronic files to printed pages. The three main areas in this field are prepress (workers who prepare material for printing), press (workers who monitor and operate printing presses), and postpress/binding (workers who check the quality of printed products and assemble pages into the final product). Careers in printing technology include desktop publishing specialists, graphic designers, prepress workers, and printing press operators.

Telecommunications Career Path

Workers in this area install, monitor, and repair the equipment that transmits audio and video data across communication lines. This equipment is controlled by computer systems and is very sensitive in nature. Thus telecommunications work requires a high degree of technical knowledge. Careers in this area include communications equipment technicians, fiber optics technicians, and telecommunications technicians.

Visual Arts Career Path

Careers in the visual arts fall into two broad categories. Fine artists express their own thoughts and emotions through a variety of media and methods, such as painting, sculpture, and drawing. Commercial artists, such as illustrators and graphic designers, use their creative talents to create packaging, logos, annual reports, and other projects for corporate and individual clients. Careers in this category include artists, cartoonists and animators, fashion designers, interior designers and decorators, and medical illustrators and photographers.

Read more about Arts, Audio-Video Technology, and Communication Career Cluster.

Career Pathways in Business, Management, and Administration

Business, Management, and Administration Career Cluster

Business, Management, and Administration Career Cluster

The six career pathways in this cluster are administrative and information support, business analysis, business financial management and accounting, human resources, management, and marketing.

Administrative and Information Support Career Path

Workers in this area are responsible for the day-to-day administrative duties in a business. They also ensure that information moves throughout the business in an efficient and timely manner. Typical responsibilities in this category include data entry, filing, word processing, answering and redirecting telephone calls and e-mails, and greeting and recording the visits of guests and clients. Careers in this field include customer service representatives, office administrators, receptionists, secretaries, and typists and word processors.

Business Analysis Career Path

People who work in this area are problem-solvers. They analyze various types of data and, based on their analyses, make recommendations on how the business should proceed in order to best fulfill its goals. People in business analysis help set prices, construct budgets, improve communication systems, and determine which consumers are most likely to purchase a business’s products or services, among other things. Careers in this field include credit analysts, financial analysts, and management analysts and consultants.

Business Financial Management and Accounting Career Path

Workers in this area create and use the accounting systems that enable a business to keep track of its profits, losses, and overall expenses. People in this area are adept at working with numbers and are often responsible for highly sensitive financial information. Careers in this field include accountants, auditors, bookkeepers, collection workers, and financial services brokers. Read more about Accounting Careers.

Human Resources Career Path

Human resources professionals are responsible for the hiring and management of employees. They interview new applicants, plan and execute employee training and development programs, manage and administer benefit programs, mediate in matters of workplace conflict, and ensure that a business complies with all current labor laws. Human resources professionals must be good communicators who enjoy working with people. Careers in this field include personnel specialists, event planners, executive recruiters, and labor union business agents.

Management Career Path

Workers in this broad category work at the top levels of a business. They determine the need for and hire new employees, monitor employee performance, evaluate a business’s workflow, communicate with customers and clients, and work with other departments and managers to ensure the overall success of a business. Careers in this field include business managers, cost estimators, and risk managers.

Marketing Career Path

Marketing professionals are excellent communicators. They are responsible for delivering a business’s message about its products and services to the right audience. To do this, they conduct extensive research on current market trends and competitor’s strategies. Marketing professionals are responsible for a business’s internal communications, as well, ensuring that employees are up-to-date on the business’s latest achievements and undertakings, among other things. Careers in marketing include buyers, marketing researchers, media relations specialists, public relations specialists, and telemarketers.

Read more about Business, Management, and Administration Career Cluster.

Career Pathways in Education and Training

Education and Training Career Cluster

Education and Training Career Cluster

There are three career pathways in this cluster: administration and administrative support, professional support services, and teaching/training.

Administration and Administrative Support Career Path

People who work in this area provide leadership in schools and school systems, colleges, and universities. They develop the policies and rules that guide those institutions, and they are responsible for implementing discipline when people violate those rules. Workers in this area also develop the curriculum and conduct testing and research to see where improvements or changes in education are needed. Examples of jobs in this pathway are college administrators, research assistants, and school administrators.

Professional Support Services Career Path

The highly specialized workers in this pathway provide testing, counseling, and support to students, educators, and parents. They may diagnose and recommend therapy for a student’s learning disability, administer a skills assessment to help a student decide on a career path, or work with a student to help improve speech difficulties. Examples of careers in this area include guidance counselors, school psychologists, and speech-language pathologists.

Teaching/Training Career Path

This pathway, which includes the largest number of jobs in this cluster, employs the teachers, professors, and support staff who provide instruction and training to students. Jobs in this area require a strong knowledge of a subject area, excellent communication skills, and a desire to help and work closely with students. Examples of jobs in this area include elementary school teachers, secondary school teachers, special education teachers, and teacher aides.

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Career Pathways in Finance

Finance Career Cluster

Finance Career Cluster

The four career pathways in the finance cluster are banking and related services, business financial management, financial and investment planning, and insurance services.

Banking and Related Services Career Path

Workers in this area are employed by banks, credit unions, and savings and loan organizations that offer savings, credit, and loans to businesses and consumers. Examples of jobs in this pathway include bank services workers, credit analysts, and bookkeepers.

Business Financial Management Career Path

People who work in this area design, install, and implement the financial and accounting systems for businesses. This helps businesses keep an accurate financial history, manage accounts payable and receivable, and make better decisions overall. Examples of jobs in this pathway include accountants, auditors, and financial analysts. Read more about Accounting Careers.

Financial and Investment Planning Career Path

Workers in this area provide investment and financial planning advice to businesses and consumers. Clients place a great deal of trust in these professionals to perform constant research, stay up-to-date on market trends, and make wise decisions for them in their name. Examples of careers in this pathway include commodities brokers, financial planners, financial services brokers, and tax preparers.

Insurance Services Career Path

The insurance industry sells policies to people and businesses that protect them against financial losses in the event of death, natural disaster, accident, and other occurrences. There are many kinds of positions in this field, ranging from people who sell policies (insurance agents and brokers) to the people who estimate the value of insurance policies based on mathematical formulas (actuaries). Other careers in this pathway include customer service representatives, insurance claims representatives, and insurance underwriters.

Read more about Finance Career Cluster.

Career Pathways in Government and Public Administration

Government and Public Administration Career Cluster

Government and Public Administration Career Cluster

The government and public administration cluster contains seven career pathways: Foreign Service, governance, national security, planning, public management and administration, regulation, and regulation and taxation.

Foreign Service Career Path

Foreign Service workers serve as representatives of the United States in its embassies, consulates, and diplomatic missions around the world. People in Foreign Service positions are not elected, rather, they apply for or are appointed to their posts. Work in Foreign Service is divided into four areas: administration (workers who manage U.S. agencies abroad); consular affairs (workers who provide medical, legal, and other services to U.S. citizens traveling abroad); economic and commercial affairs (workers who study foreign economies and how they might affect the United States); and political affairs (workers who study the impact of U.S. and foreign political changes). Workers in this area, as in many areas of government, are subject to extensive background screening. Jobs in Foreign Service include ambassadors, cultural officers, and Foreign Service officers.

Governance Career Path

This pathway includes all of the officials who are elected and appointed to national, state, and local offices. Workers in this area, including the president, members of Congress, and mayors, create and implement public policy and laws. This pathway also includes the many support and administrative workers who help officials perform their jobs. Jobs in this area include appointed and elected officials, city managers, congressional aides, and lobbyists.

National Security Career Path

The careers in this pathway are all based in the armed services. Our system of national security is a complex one that demands people with all types of skills, such as business, medical, legal, mechanical, and many more. A career in the army, navy, air force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, or National Guard involves rigorous training and a hefty commitment of time and energy. But job satisfaction is often quite high in this field, which presents opportunities for almost every interest. Jobs in this area include cryptographic technicians, intelligence officers, mechanical engineers, and military pilots.

Planning Career Path

People who work in the planning pathway make decisions about how to best use land and resources. They take a look at many factors, including population, industry, and traffic patterns, and figure out how to use an area’s resources for the greatest benefit and with the least harm to the environment. They give their plans and recommendations to officials or legislative bodies, who then decide whether or not to implement or refine them. Jobs in this pathway include business managers, city planners, and statisticians.

Public Management and Administration Career Path

Careers in this pathway deal with the budgeting, management, and staffing of agencies and offices that deal with public resources. There are strict and complex rules that govern this field. Workers here must have a firm grasp on these rules and their own obligations to the public in their work. Jobs in this pathway include city managers, court clerks, and purchasing managers.

Regulation Career Path

Work in the regulation pathway requires knowledge of a certain industry or area, such as construction, coupled with a knowledge of the laws and regulation that apply to that industry. Workers in this area make sure that buildings are up to fire codes, that manufacturers are not harming the environment when they dispose of wastes, and that airlines are adhering to the latest safety and security measures. Examples of careers in regulation include aviation safety inspectors, bank examiners, and fire safety inspectors.

Revenue and Taxation Career Path

Revenue and taxation professionals work with taxes and tax laws. They collect and monitor taxes, perform audits, review tax returns, and keep track of fines for overdue taxes. People who work in this pathway must stay up-to-date on tax laws, which change from year to year. Revenue and tax professionals must be good with money and numbers and are responsible for a great deal of private and sensitive information. Examples of careers in the revenue and taxation pathway are auditors, tax attorneys, and employees of the Internal Revenue Service.

Read more about Government and Public Administration Career Cluster.

Career Pathways in Health Science

Health Science Career Cluster

Health Science Career Cluster

The five career pathways in the health science field are biotechnology research and development, diagnostic services, health informatics, support services, and therapeutic services.

Biotechnology Research and Development Career Path

The people who work in this pathway develop new treatments, technology, and medications that improve human health. Work in this field is highly specialized, and most entry-level positions require a master’s or, in some cases, a doctoral degree. Examples of careers in biotechnology research and development are biochemists, microbiologists, pharmacists, research assistants, and toxicologists.

Diagnostic Services Career Path

Careers in diagnostic services deal with the detection, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases, injuries, and other physical ailments. People who work in this pathway spend much of their time collecting samples from, performing tests on, and analyzing data about patients. They then either pass this information on to other health care professionals or speak with the patient about the results. Examples of careers in this pathway include cardiovascular technologists, cytotechnologists, and X-ray technologists.

Health Informatics Career Path

The health informatics pathway deals with the management of information within health care facilities and systems. This information can range from the medical data on patient charts to the billing systems that medical insurance companies use. A career in health informatics could also entail installing and maintaining the computer systems used by a medical office or nursing unit. Examples of careers in health informatics include database specialists, medical ethicists, medical librarians, medical record technicians, and medical transcriptionists.

Support Services Career Path

Support services include all of the careers that maintain a clean, safe, and healing environment for patients and medical personnel. From cleaning and repairing medical equipment to managing hospital cafeterias, support service workers are the lifeblood of any health science setting. Jobs in support services include biomedical equipment technicians, janitors and cleaners, dietitians, food service workers, and industrial safety and health technicians.

Therapeutic Services Career Path

This pathway is the one most commonly associated with health science. People who work in therapeutic services provide direct care, including emergency care, rehabilitation therapy, surgery, and counseling services. Examples of careers in therapeutic services include athletic trainers, dentists, massage therapists, medical assistants, physicians, psychologists, registered nurses, and speech-language pathologists.

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Career Pathways in Hospitality and Tourism

Hospitality and Tourism Career Cluster

Hospitality and Tourism Career Cluster

The hospitality and tourism cluster is composed of four career pathways: lodging; recreation, amusements, and attractions; restaurant and food/beverage services; and travel and tourism.

Lodging Career Path

Lodging workers are involved in the management and maintenance of hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, hostels, or any other business that provides lodging services to guests. Some lodging workers, such as bed and breakfast owners, might do everything from book reservations to prepare meals for guests, while a desk clerk for a large hotel chain might only check guests in and out. All workers in this area share the common goal of making guests’ experience as enjoyable as possible. Examples of jobs in this area include baggage porters and bellhops, hotel concierges, hotel and motel managers, and janitors and cleaners.

Recreation , Amusements, and Attractions Career Path

Workers in this area are employed by the many places people go for entertainment and amusement, such as theme parks, casinos, resort spas, zoos, and historical sites. The work in this field is generally lively and involves close interaction with the public. Recreation workers can operate rides or vehicles, organize events and entertainment for guests, lead organized tours, or help new members of a private club become familiar with its facilities. Good people skills are an absolute must in this area. Examples of jobs include cruise directors, gaming workers, recreation center directors, and ski resort workers.

Restaurant and Food/Beverage Services Career Path

Employment in food service can mean working for as little as one or two clients, as in the case of personal chefs, or planning a menu for a restaurant that serves hundreds of customers on a weekly basis. Regardless of whether they work in a restaurant, bar, cruise ship, or bakery, food service workers must pay close attention to details and be able to think quickly on their feet, as these work environments are among some of the busiest. Examples of jobs in this area include bartenders, caterers, cooks and chefs, and waiters.

Travel and Tourism Career Path

People who work in this pathway promote tourism, help people plan vacations, or plan and organize events that help people make the most of their travel experience. Examples of jobs include cultural advisers, travel agents, event planners, and tour guides.

Read more about Hospitality and Tourism Career Cluster.

Career Pathways in Human Services

Human Services Career Cluster

Human Services Career Cluster

There are five career pathways within the human services cluster: consumer services, counseling and mental health services, early childhood development and services, family and community services, and personal care services.

Consumer Services Career Path

People who work in consumer services assist people with decisions related to finance, real estate, insurance, and consumer goods. Whether they are selling a house or helping a customer track a missing order, consumer services workers must be quick thinkers and good communicators. They must be able to understand a client’s needs fully in order to provide the right kind of assistance or recommend the right product. Jobs in consumer services are among some of the most promising in today’s job market in terms of available positions. Examples of careers in this area include credit analysts, customer service representatives, financial planners, and real estate agents and brokers.

Counseling and Mental Health Services Career Path

Careers in this pathway involve helping individuals, couples, and families with their problems. This work can involve helping people find a job, deal with an addiction, learn to live with HIV or AIDS, or save a troubled marriage. Counselors in this area may also treat people with mental illnesses. Most of the careers in this pathway require a fair amount of training and education, and in most cases a master’s degree is required to work in the field. Examples of careers in counseling and mental health services include alcohol and drug abuse counselors, career counselors, HIV/AIDS counselors and case managers, and psychologists.

Early Childhood Development and Services Career Path

People who work in this area teach and care for children. These professionals work at day care centers, preschools, elementary schools, in private homes, and for before- and after-school programs. Although their exact job responsibilities vary, all early childhood development specialists are responsible for the well-being and education of the children in their care. Examples of careers in this area include child care workers, nannies, and preschool teachers.

Family and Community Services Career Path

Much of the work in this pathway is what is traditionally defined as social work, that is, providing help for those who are unable to help themselves. Family and community services workers help find shelter and work for the homeless, assist homebound individuals, provide relief and counseling for victims of natural disasters, and care for the elderly, among other things. Work in this field is expected to be plentiful in the coming years, especially in jobs that deal with the growing elderly population. Examples of family and community services careers include adult day care coordinators, geriatric social workers, rehabilitation counselors, and religious sisters and brothers.

Personal Care Services Career Path

Workers in this area help people improve their appearances by attending to their hair, skin, or nails; by helping people plan or execute an exercise regimen; or by providing therapeutic treatments such as massage. Also included in this pathway are funeral directors, who help families plan funeral services for departed loved ones and who prepare bodies for public viewing. Other careers in this area include cosmetologists, electrologists, massage therapists, nail technicians, and personal trainers.

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Career Pathways in Information Technology

Information Technology Career Cluster

Information Technology Career Cluster

The information technology cluster is composed of the following four career pathways: information support and services, interactive media, network systems, and programming and software development.

Information Support and Services Career Path

People who work in this pathway help organizations select the correct information technology for their needs. They may also install IT systems, write and update documentation about those systems, and help people troubleshoot IT problems. Examples of careers in information support and services include database specialists, technical writers and editors, and technical support specialists.

Interactive Media Career Path

Jobs in this pathway deal with the design and creation of interactive multimedia products and services. Interactive media workers design and create Web sites for business, schools, and other organizations. Many organizations use the Internet and company intranets to share information with employees, communicate with customers, and track orders. Examples of jobs in this cluster include computer and video game designers, graphic designers, multimedia sound workers, and webmasters.

Network Systems Career Path

Computer networks are the lifeblood of most organizations. Networks provide a means for people to share information while working on different computers in the same building or in different locations altogether. Jobs in this pathway deal with the design, installation, and maintenance of computer networks. Typical jobs in this pathway include computer network specialists, computer systems analysts, and telecommunications technicians.

Programming and Software Development Career Path

People who work in programming and software development create the programs and software packages people use for business, education, or just for fun. Working in this pathway, as with most other areas of the information technology cluster, requires a good understanding of various computer operating systems and programming languages, as well as the needs of the audience for whom the software is intended. Although many programmers and developers specialize in one language or operating system, having a good general knowledge of the field can prepare a job candidate for a wide variety of positions. Examples of jobs in this pathway include computer and video game designers, computer programmers, graphics programmers, and software designers.

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Career Pathways in Law, Public Safety, and Security

Law, Public Safety, and Security Career Cluster

Law, Public Safety, and Security Career Cluster

The law, public safety, and security cluster contains four career pathways: correction services, emergency and fire management services, law enforcement services, and legal services.

Correction Services Career Path

Corrections workers oversee people who have been arrested and are awaiting trial, or who have been convicted of a crime and are serving a sentence in a correctional facility. Corrections workers may transport inmates from one place to another, maintain order in correctional facilities, serve meals to prisoners, or help inmates transition back into society during a parole period. Examples of careers in corrections services include corrections officers, food service workers, and parole officers.

Emergency and Fire Management Services Career Path

Emergency services workers come to the aid of people who have fallen victim to natural disasters, fires, and other catastrophic events. Most workers in this area are trained in emergency medical techniques, as they are often the first to respond to a disaster. They provide lifesaving and basic medical care to patients until they are able to transport them to a hospital. (Emergency medical technicians and paramedics provide emergency care as a routine part of their job.) Work in this area requires a great deal of stamina and courage, as these workers confront crisis and danger on an almost daily basis. Examples of careers in this pathway include emergency medical technicians, firefighters, and hazardous waste management technicians.

Law Enforcement Services Career Path

Law enforcement officers protect the lives and properties of the individuals they serve and enforce the local, state, and federal laws. Law enforcement officers’ responsibilities vary depending on the agency for which they work. For example, detectives conduct criminal investigations, while traffic officers regulate motorists on streets and highways. Other law enforcement professionals protect parks and wildlife, conduct customs and immigrations inspections, and or help judges maintain order in courtrooms. Examples of careers in this area include bailiffs, customs officials, and police officers.

Legal Services Career Path

The legal services pathway contains the lawyers who advise and represent clients, judges who interpret the law and rule in cases, and the many legal support professions that keep the legal system running smoothly. For example, law librarians provide valuable research services for law students, lawyers, and judges. Paralegals perform many of the duties that lawyers time used to perform, thereby giving lawyers time to take on more clients and cases. Law professors work at law schools and help students not only learn the law, but master the legal reasoning skills this profession requires. Other careers in this pathway include court reporters, legal secretaries, and legal nurse consultants.

Read more about Law, Public Safety, Corrections, and Security Career Cluster.

Career Pathways in Manufacturing

Manufacturing Career Cluster

Manufacturing Career Cluster

The manufacturing cluster contains six career pathways: health, safety, and environmental assurance; logistics and inventory control; maintenance, installation and repair; manufacturing production process development; production; and quality assurance.

Health , Safety, and Environmental Assurance Career Path

Workers in this area maintain the safety of manufacturing workplaces and products. They conduct health and safety inspections, teach employees safe working practices, and plan for removal of harmful materials according to the latest laws and regulations. Examples of careers in this area include environmental engineers, health and regulatory inspectors, and industrial safety and health technicians.

Logistics and Inventory Control Career Path

Logistics refers to the planning and actual movement of materials to and from manufacturing sites. Inventory control deals with the receipt, delivery, and monitoring of raw materials and finished products. Logistics and inventory control workers keep raw materials and finished products moving in and out of manufacturing facilities and ensure that all of these materials are well accounted for. Examples of careers in this area include industrial traffic managers, inventory control specialists, quality control engineers and technicians, and shipping and receiving clerks.

Maintenance, Installation, and Repair Career Path

Most manufacturing operations involve machinery and technical equipment. Such machinery and equipment requires routine maintenance, repair, and upgrades. Maintenance, installation, and repair workers install and maintain manufacturing equipment. They run regular tests to evaluate the condition of the equipment, make recommendations for the purchase of new equipment, and troubleshoot any problems that come up in a business’s day-to-day operations. Examples of careers in this pathway include instrumentation technicians, millwrights, systems setup specialists, and telecommunications technicians.

Manufacturing Production Process Development Career Path

This is the design segment of the manufacturing industry. The people in this pathway design the goods the manufacturing sector produces and the production processes used to produce them. To do this, they interview potential customers and evaluate similar products and processes to decide where they can make improvements. They also collect feedback from existing customers to make sure that products are meeting their needs and are being delivered in the most efficient and timely way possible. Examples of careers in manufacturing production process development include industrial designers, industrial engineers and engineering technicians, and operations research analysts.

Production Career Path

Production workers assemble raw materials into finished products. They may use machinery, computer systems, hand tools, welding, or do the work by hand. Examples of careers in this area include automotive industry workers, glass manufacturing workers, manufacturing supervisors, and precision machinists and metalworkers.

Quality Assurance Career Path

Like health and safety workers, quality assurance workers ensure that manufacturing processes and products adhere to established safety guidelines. They also test products to make sure they are of an acceptable quality and make sure that the manufacturing process yields goods in a timely manner. Customer satisfaction is foremost in quality assurance workers’ minds. Examples of work in this pathway include instrumentation technicians, quality assurance testers, and quality control engineers and technicians.

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Career Pathways in Marketing, Sales, and Service

Marketing, Sales, and Service

Marketing, Sales, and Service Career Cluster

The marketing, sales, and service cluster contains seven career pathways: buying and merchandising, distribution and logistics, e-marketing, management and entrepreneurship, marketing communications and promotion, marketing information management and research, and professional sales and marketing.

Buying and Merchandising Career Path

People who work in buying and merchandising get products into the hands of the customer. They may work on the sales floor, helping customers select products, or they may design and assemble various product displays that make the products appealing and accessible to customers. Buyers, another category of job in this pathway, select and purchase goods from wholesalers for a retail store or chain of stores. Other examples of careers in this pathway include merchandise displayers, retail sales workers, and retail store managers.

Distribution and Logistics Career Path

Distribution and logistics deals with the movement of raw materials and finished products. People who work in this area manage the shipment of products from manufacturers to stores. They also plan work within manufacturing centers so that goods are created quickly, efficiently, and in a manner that ensures quality. Because their work affects both the quality of goods and the time it takes to deliver them to market, distribution and logistics workers have a great impact on the price of consumer goods. Examples of jobs in this area include export-import specialists, industrial traffic managers, and shipping and receiving clerks.

E-marketing Career Path

E-marketers use the Internet and World Wide Web to market goods and services. By designing Web sites, writing copy for e-mail ad campaigns, or processing orders placed via the Web, these professionals help sell goods and services to customers all over the world, at all times of the day. Examples of careers in e-marketing include copywriters, graphic designers, and Internet transaction specialists.

Management and Entrepreneurship Career Path

Managers of all types direct the day-to-day business of an organization. Entrepreneurs are business managers who create ideas for and set up new businesses either on their own or with the support of financial backers. In a marketing and sales workplace, managers and entrepreneurs oversee and direct all of the advertising, marketing, sales, and public relations responsibilities. In a small startup organization, one manager/ entrepreneur may be responsible for all of these duties, while in large companies there may be several levels of managers in charge of individual departments. Regardless of the workplace, managers and entrepreneurs share the common traits of motivation and strong leadership skills. Examples of careers in this pathway include business managers, Internet executives, and retail business owners.

Marketing Communications and Promotion Career Path

People in this pathway plan, create, and execute marketing and advertising campaigns. With information gained from market research, they write, illustrate, animate, and assemble the catalogs and advertisements that will tell customers about available products. They also conduct public relations and sales campaigns. Examples of careers in this pathway are art directors, advertising account executives, public relations specialists, and sales representatives.

Marketing Information Management and Research Career Path

Careers in this pathway involve research and an understanding of people. Specifically, these professionals conduct surveys, interviews, and market research to better understand consumers needs and wants, as well as openings for new products in the marketplace. This research leads to the development of new and improved products. It also helps other marketing and sales professionals channel their work and messages to the most appropriate customers. Examples of careers in this area include database specialists, marketing researchers, and research assistants.

Professional Sales and Marketing Career Path

This pathway includes much of the business– client interaction that characterizes the sales and marketing field. These professionals communicate with customers, ensuring that they are receiving the right products and services, informing them of new products and services, and channeling customer feedback back to the producer in an effort to improve quality. Examples of careers in this pathway include sales representatives, customer service representatives, and telemarketers.

Read more about Marketing, Sales, and Service Career Cluster.

Career Pathways in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Career Cluster

Although the fields covered in this cluster are varied, they all share the common themes of research and testing hypotheses against problems both real and theoretical. They call for people with analytical minds who enjoy challenges and innovation. The jobs in this cluster are divided into two pathways: engineering and technology and science and math.

Engineering and Technology Career Path

Engineering of all types consist of three main stages: research, development, and project application. Engineers use the data from research and development and apply them to the design and production of materials, machines, methods, or to whatever the ultimate goal is.

There are many different types of engineers. Electrical engineers work with electrical circuits and systems in small-scale electronics and in large buildings and cities. Civil engineers design the bridges, highways, and dams that serve our cities. Software engineers design the computer programs that we use for business and recreation. These are just a few examples. And as different as the job responsibilities are in these careers, they all deal with the application of technical knowledge to create solutions and innovations for real-world situations.

Engineering technicians are an important part of this career pathway. Technicians help engineers do their jobs by performing some of the hands-on routine work for them. This gives engineers more time to work on the development of new ideas and innovations. Technicians generally have two years of formal education and training.

Some other examples of careers in this field include aerospace engineers, environmental engineers, hardware engineers, industrial engineers, and packaging engineers.

Science and Math Career Path

Careers in this pathway are part of the mathematics or natural, physical, or earth science fields. Work in this area can mean teaching biology to high school students or studying mineral samples from another planet. Scientists and mathematicians of all types have a natural curiosity about how the world works. In their jobs, they strive for a better understanding of the processes that govern the environment, our health, and the ways in which we relate to one another. Through research, experimentation, and the development of new theories, medicines, and other products, they help us all live better lives.

Because the two fields are related, scientists and mathematicians work in many of the same areas. Many ideas and developments in physics, chemistry, the biological sciences, astronomy, and even social sciences (like economics and psychology) rely on ideas from mathematics. These scientific fields offer many careers, including such areas as astronomy; space technology; energy and resources; earth, ocean, and space science; electronics; industry; computer science; medicine; communications; environmental science; and consulting. Mathematicians and physicists work as engineers, teachers, researchers, lab technicians and supervisors, acoustical scientists, astronomers, astrophysicists, medical physicists, and geophysicists, as well as other positions. Knowledge in math or physics opens opportunities even for writers, lawyers, and administrators.

Also, employment opportunities exist worldwide in government, schools, and private organizations. For instance, mathematicians like statisticians, operations researchers, and actuaries work in government agencies such as the Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of Management and Budget. They help gather information on how many people are likely to get cancer from smoking. They help the president understand how much money our country has and owes other countries and agencies. They even help figure out how tax laws can benefit certain people. Other agencies that employ mathematicians and scientists include the Department of Energy, the Department of Defense, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Other examples of careers in this pathway include biologists, chemists, ecologists, statisticians, and zoologists.

Read more about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Career Cluster.

Career Pathways in Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics

Transportation Distribution and Logistics Career Cluster

Transportation Distribution and Logistics Career Cluster

There are seven career pathways in this cluster: facility and mobile equipment maintenance; health, safety, and environmental management; logistics planning and management services; sales and service; transportation operations; transportation systems; and warehousing and distribution center operations.

Facility and Mobile Equipment Maintenance Career Path

People who work in this pathway clean, service, and repair the transportation vehicles and machinery, as well as the garages, warehouses, and other buildings that house them. Examples of careers in this pathway include automobile mechanics, electricians, industrial machinery mechanics, and tire technicians.

Health , Safety, and Environmental Management Career Path

Transportation and distribution work has a serious impact on the environment. Workers in this pathway come up with ways to protect the environment from things such as automotive pollution and the transportation and disposal of hazardous waste. They also ensure the safety of the vehicles and working environments used in this line of work. Examples of jobs in this pathway include aviation safety inspectors, environmental engineers, and health and regulatory inspectors.

Logistics Planning and Management Services Career Path

This pathway involves the planning and management of how materials and people will move from one place to another in an efficient and timely manner. Whether they are planning a train schedule or shipping routes for a national trucking line, workers in this field must have a knack for details and seeing the big picture. Examples of careers in this pathway include business managers and industrial traffic managers.

Sales and Service Career Path

People in this pathway are involved in the marketing, advertising, and sales of transportation services to businesses and individual customers. Work in this area requires thorough knowledge of the competition and of the customers’ needs. Jobs in sales and service include customer service representatives, marketing researchers, reservation and ticket agents, and sales representatives.

Transportation Operations Career Path

These are the people who keep things moving— literally. Workers in this area operate the trucks, buses, planes, and trains that move people and goods from one place to another. They are also the ones who make sure that the work is occurring according to schedule. Transportation operations workers include locomotive engineers, pilots, taxi drivers, and truck drivers.

Transportation Systems Career Path

Workers in this area design and oversee all aspects of public transportation systems, including road, rail, air, and sea travel. These workers are usually employees of state or federal government. Examples of jobs in this area include city planners, civil engineers and civil engineering technicians, and traffic engineers.

Warehousing and Distribution Center Operations Career Path

Jobs in this pathway deal with the management of warehouses and other centers that ship, receive, and store goods. Besides the scheduling of shipments and deliveries, people in this pathway monitor inventories as goods go into and out of the warehouse. Examples of careers in this field include business managers, industrial traffic managers, and packaging engineers.

Read more about Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics Career Cluster.

Choosing a Career Path

Personal pathways

All career pathways are personal. When planning your career pathway consider:

  • what you like
  • what’s important to you
  • what you’re good at
  • the people you know who may be able to help you.

Think about your past decisions and experiences, your existing skills, your ambitions for the future and any information or advice you’ve discovered about the career you have chosen.

Education and training

Your career will probably involve a combination of formal and non-formal learning. Non-formal learning is particularly important as it depends on you and your own need to improve your skills.

Formal learning programs provided by the three sectors of the Australian education and training system are:

  • schools: preschools, primary schools, secondary and senior secondary schools
  • vocational education and training (VET): TAFE, private colleges, community facilities, schools and workplaces, many of which are Registered Training Organizations
  • higher education: universities and accredited higher education institutions.

Non-formal learning includes workshops, seminars, adult community education courses, conferences, professional development activities, and self-directed learning. Non-formal education lets you show that you are genuinely interested in a particular subject and keeps you up to date on the latest ideas and practices in your chosen career.

The qualifications you gain at schools, from vocational education and training (VET) providers and universities can be linked up in different ways. This means you can reach your career goals by many different pathways.

Recognition of prior learning (RPL) gives you credit for your existing knowledge and skills, such as your:

  • life experience (for example, voluntary work, hobbies, sport)
  • work experience (including unpaid work)
  • previous study (for example, courses at school or college, adult education classes, training at work).

Community involvement

Community organizations can let you know about services and programs that can help you take your next career step.

Urban, rural and remote communities can do a lot to support non-formal learning. Some of the best learning happens when people think and act together:

  • across age groups
  • in groups of both men and women
  • using existing networks
  • with employers
  • with local learning leaders
  • with community-owned and managed organizations.

Pathways intersect

Personal, community and educational pathways often meet up and can influence each other.

For example, community activities you’ve been involved in, such as volunteering at a community radio station, could influence the school subjects or further education courses you choose. And you would also have built up a valuable personal network while at the radio station.

Opportunities, new experiences, and problems you come across as you move along your career pathway can make a difference to the direction you take at points where you have to make a choice.

The more actively you explore the different paths you can take towards your goals, the more choices you’ll discover.

A career adviser can help you to identify how your education, community and personal pathways relate to each other and suggest how you could develop the skills needed for your career.

Navigate with care

Following your career pathway means making some choices. Ask yourself these questions.

  • What have I learnt from my life experiences that I want to use in my career?
  • What career fields am I interested in?
  • What pathways could I take to get to those career fields?
  • Do I need to take a course at a tertiary institution (a private college, TAFE or university)?
  • What are the entry requirements for those courses?
  • When I finish the course, what jobs will I be qualified for?
  • Who do I know who can help me?
  • What resources and networks does my community have to offer?
  • How can I use my personal networks of family, friends and associates to build my career?

Base your career and educational choices on who you are today. You can always change the direction of your pathway in the future if your interests and goals change. (Source: What is a career pathway?)