Developing Your Career Specialty

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 and training; and place them in high-demand, high-opportunity jobs.

Career Clusters provide students with a context for studying traditional academics and learning the skills specific to a career, and provide U.S. schools with a structure for organizing or restructuring curriculum offerings and focusing class make-up by a common theme such as interest.

In the U.S. Department of Education model, 16 Career Clusters link to 79 more specific Career Pathways – each have their own knowledge and skills requirements. Within the 70+ career pathways, 1800 Career Specialties are defined.




The U.S. DOE Career Clusters framework is useful for connecting students with courses of study and careers via career assessments, and allows them to learn general, more transferable skills at the cluster level, with more specific skills and knowledge acquired at the career pathways and speciality levels. The non-profit Vocational Research Institute adapted an interest and aptitude assessment, 'Careerscope', to help students choose curriculum and careers for which they have both interest and aptitude - at the cluster, pathway and career specialty levels.



Career Clusters Series - Glencoe Online

Career Development Links

WA Job Outlook through 2018

  • Business Management and Administration will be the largest career cluster
  • Information Technology will be the fastest growing career cluster, with a 32% increase in jobs by 2018
  • Marketing, Sales, and Services will add the most jobs
  • In 2018, 40% of all jobs in Washington will be in Business Management and Administration, Marketing, Sales and Services, and Hospitality and Tourism
  • In Washington, by 2018, there will be about 350,000 jobs for those with certificates

Source:  Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, 2011