Career & Technical Education (CTE)

We offer CTE programs in over 43 occupational areas, allowing students to acquire both technical (hands-on) and academic skills.

About Career & Technical Education (CTE)

CTE students receive an education that combines academic content with hands-on learning. Over three years, starting in 10th grade, students receive 1,080 hours of specific instruction, using state-of-the-art equipment, and under the watchful eye of experienced industry professionals trained to teach our students in the classroom.

  • We offer CTE programs in 43 occupational areas, often leading to industry-recognized credentials or certifications in addition to the student’s high school diploma.
  • CTE courses offer our students the ability to get specific, practical and professional skills
  • That can mean the difference on a college application or the fast-track into a first job!

Ready to get started? Learn how to apply to a CTE program APPLY FOR CTE.

CTE & Graduation

Under Act 158, there are now 5 pathways to graduation. Typically, students graduate under Pathway 1 if they pass their Keystone Exams. CTE gives students another way to approach graduation under Pathway 3.

To be eligible for this pathway, the CTE student must be considered a “CTE Concentrator”.

  • To be considered a CTE Concentrator, you must have been enrolled in your school’s CTE program, AND you must have completed and passed 50% of your CTE requirements to-date by the time you’re in 12th grade.

CTE Concentrators must complete AT LEAST ONE of the following:

  • Obtain an industry certification related to their CTE program.
  • Take the NOCTI pre-test in 11th grade AND take the NOCTI post-test or equivalent in 12th grade.
  • For programs that do not have a NOCTI exam, take the CTE Final Exam at the end of 12th grade.

Benefits to CTE

  • During your time in CTE, whether it is a 1, 2, or 3 year program, you’ll receive training from an industry professional. Class time will include hands-on training and the development of soft skills. Soft skills include things like resume-building and how to do job interviews.
  • Work-based learning is a crucial part of CTE. From guest speakers and company tours, to internships and apprenticeships, there are many ways for you to see first-hand what your career path could be.
  • Your education is beyond the classroom. Through Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs), you’ll have the opportunity to compete in skills competitions, go to conferences, and apply for CTE-specific scholarships!
  • You can earn industry credentialsor certifications.
  • Certifications prove that you know what you’re doing. They look good on a resume, too. These exams are offered to CTE students for free. They’re usually taken in 11th and 12th grade.
  • You can earn free college credits related to your CTE Program. 

Graduating from a CTE program gives you a head start in your college education.

  • Time. That head start means you don’t have to take certain introductory courses related to your CTE program. You can save yourself some time!
  • Money. You earned those college credits–for free! So you don’t have to pay it in your college tuition.
  • Experience. You can continue toward a certification or a degree from college with the foundation you’ve gotten from a CTE program.

Looking to Teach CTE?

What are the qualifications to teach CTE?

To teach CTE, you need to have at least 4 years of experience working in a related industry. If you have a bachelor’s degree, then you need a minimum of 2 years of related industry work experience. For example, a candidate who has worked in construction for 6 years with no bachelor’s degree is qualified to teach a CTE program relating to construction!

I’ve never taught a classroom before. Is that ok?

Yes, that’s ok! The School District of Philadelphia provides professional development and coaching for all new teachers who are hired. During the 2nd year of teaching, a CTE Teacher will begin taking teacher certification courses at Temple University.

Do I need a college degree to teach?

No, you do not need a college degree to teach in some programs. Qualifications vary depending on the CTE program.

What is being a CTE teacher like?

It is busy, exciting, and full of opportunities. No day is the same as the day before. You’ll spend extended amounts of time with your students, which results in you having an outsized impact on a high school student’s growth, path, and outlook. Your classroom is a space where you, as the teacher, can enable students to pursue their own interests through projects and live-work.

How do I apply?

Click here to search for available teaching positions.

What CTE Programs exist in my school?

Working Papers

The Pennsylvania Child Labor Law requires children ages 14 through 17 to obtain working papers (also called a work permit) before they can start working.

How to obtain a work permit

STEP 1: Prepare the two documents that you need to get your work permit.

  • Document 1: First is the Application for Work Permit. You can download it and fill it out digitally, or print it out.
    • Please fill out everything except for “Signature of Issuing Officer” and the fields on the top right.
    • Have it signed by your parent or guardian, in the box at the bottom left. This part is really important, because we won’t accept unsigned applications.
  • Document 2: The second document is your Proof of Age. The following can be used as proof of age:
    • Birth certificate (copies are acceptable)
    • State ID or driver’s license
    • Passport
    • Baptismal certificate
    • Student ID card that has a date of birth on it
    • Medical insurance card that has a date of birth on it

STEP 2: Apply for a working permit (don’t forget to bring your 2 documents listed above)

  • In-person – Walk-ins only; no appointment necessary. You only need to bring yourself, your printed, completed application, and your proof of age document. It is optional for your parent or guardian to come with you. If you don’t have a printer, we have blank applications on site. Your parent or guardian will need to come with you so they can sign it.

Education Center: Tuesday, June 18, & Thursday, June 20, 2024, 12:00 – 2:30pm:

The Education Center will be offering working papers from  to those who bring a completed application and a proof of age document.

Effective through June 15, 2024 for the following work permit locations and times (after June 15, see revised summer hours and locations below):

Locations

    • West Philadelphia High School
      4901 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19139
      Tuesdays, 3pm – 5pm
    • South Philadelphia High School
      2101 S Broad St, Philadelphia, PA 19148
      Wednesdays, 3pm – 5pm
    • Lincoln High School
      3201 Ryan Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19136
      Thursdays, 3pm – 5pm
    • Education Center
      440 N. Broad St, Philadelphia, PA 19130
      Saturdays, 8:30am – 12:30pm
    • The following Saturdays at the Education Center will be closed due to the holidays:
      • 6/15/2024 Eid-al-Adha

Effective June 26, 2024 through August 21, 2024, summer working papers hours and locations will be:

Hours:
Every Wednesday, 12pm – 2:30pm

Locations:
1. Carver High School of Engineering and Science 1600 W Norris St, Philadelphia, PA 19121
2. Samuel Fels High School 5500 Langdon St, Philadelphia, PA 19124

Apply for CTE

If you’re interested in one of our CTE programs, it takes just a few simple steps to get started:

If you are currently in middle school:

  • Check out which CTE programs you’d be interested in in our CTE Programs List and find which high schools have them.
  • When it’s time to apply to high schools, be sure to apply for those schools. In the application, there is a place where you can select which CTE program you want to enroll in.
  • Visit the Office of Student Enrollment & Placement to learn more about school selection.

If you are currently in high school:

  • If the school you’re in offers CTE programs, you can enroll in one of them as long as space is available. Please speak with your school counselor if you want to enroll!
  • If you’re not sure if your school has CTE programs, you can check with our CTE Programs List or speak with your school counselor.

CTE Programs 

Select a program category to learn about the CTE programs offered in our schools.

Business
& Finance

Communication
& Graphics

Construction
& Manufacturing

Education

Hospitality
& Culinary Arts

Information Technology & Engineering

Natural Sciences & Biotechnology

Personal Care

Transportation

Career and Technical Education (CTE) Preference

School District of Philadelphia CTE graduates who apply for City of Philadelphia jobs receive a 5-point preference in civil service entrance exams.

Eligibility

  • School District of Philadelphia graduates who have completed their CTE program in the last 3 years.
  • Complete the application, meet the job requirements, and pass the Civil Service exam.
  • Excludes entry-level Police and Fire exams.
  • Descendants of fallen law enforcement officers and veterans are granted a 10-point preference.
  • In order to submit an application, you will need to create a user profile, or have a LinkedIn account.

How to Apply

How to Search for a City Job

  • Visit www.phila.gov/jobs
  • Filter job options using the “Search Bar” or the “Filter Section”
  • Check the box for civil service jobs (5 CTE preference points apply; require a competitive exam):
    • Click on a job title that interests you, review qualifications, and if suitable, click “Apply for this job”

Do not forget the following requirements to receive the 5-point CTE preference:

  • Check the CTE Box and enter your CTE program to qualify for the 5 preference points.
  • Include your high school name and graduation year, as you are only eligible for the preference within three years of program completion.

*Note: 5-point CTE preference DOES NOT apply to non-civil service jobs.
*Note: Residency in Philadelphia for one year before the appointment date is mandatory.

Next Steps

  • Monitor the provided email after submitting your application. If qualified, you’ll get a Notice of Approval and a Notice to Appear for the exam.
  • Take the exam. Passing candidates are ranked “Eligible List” by overall score (includes preference points). Eligible lists are valid for up to two years.
  • Interview: The City interviews candidates in Eligible List rank order for job openings, and many positions have multiple openings.

NOCTI

NOCTI is CTE’s version of standardized testing.

  • All 12th graders in CTE need to take the NOCTI exam in order to graduate. 11th graders in CTE take a Pre-NOCTI exam as a preview. See CTE & Graduation
  • The 12th grade NOCTI comes in two parts. First is the online multiple-choice exam that tests. The second is a “hands-on” skills-based exam.
  • Each CTE program has a different, specific NOCTI exam.
    For example, if you were a Business Administration student, your online exam will consist of questions about business concepts. The skills-based exam will have you create spreadsheets with financial data and formulas–a task that would be normal in a professional business environment.
  • If a CTE student does well on the exam, they can be eligible to receive free college credits. See CTE Articulation
  • For more information, check out nocti.org and the PA Department of Education

CTE Student Organizations (CTSOs)

Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs) are exactly what they sound like – student groups that provide CTE students with additional activities related to their industry. Joining is a great way to challenge yourself outside of the classroom. Through them, you could compete in skills competitions, apply for scholarships, and even participate in volunteering activities.

Each CTE program participates in at least one of these five CTSOs:

Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA)

DECA focuses on business skills such as marketing, management, hospitality, and entrepreneurship. Students take part in competitive skills events, scholarships, educational conferences, campaigns, initiatives, and school-based enterprises.

Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA)

FBLA prepares students for leadership and careers in business through business-related education and entrepreneurial skill development, community service, and partnerships with the professional sector.

Future Farmers of America (FFA)

FFA focuses on preparing students for careers in the science, business, and technology of agriculture.

Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA)

HOSA serves as a major pipeline of health care professionals. Their goal is to promote careers in healthcare and to prepare students for them.

SkillsUSA

SkillsUSA plays an important role in CTE at the state and national level. They’re a non-profit organization that aims to complement students’ technical skills by focusing on employability.

CTE College Credits 

Students graduating from a CTE program can get free college credits related to their program. There are three ways:

  1. Through the Students Occupationally and Academically Ready (SOAR) program OR
  2. Through a 1-on-1 Articulation Agreement OR
  3. Through scoring 70% or higher on the NOCTI online exam.

What is SOAR?

Students Occupationally and Academically Ready (SOAR) is a program that allows CTE students to receive free college credits from certain PA state colleges and universities.

What is a 1-on-1 Articulation Agreement?

Some colleges and universities aren’t in the SOAR program but they still offer credits to students who graduate from CTE. These schools are under what’s called a “1-on-1 Articulation Agreement”, meaning that they’ve partnered with our District to award college credits.

How to figure out which courses will count in college

How to figure out which courses will count in college: Each utilizes a different application process. Check which schools will recognize your CTE education here: CTE College Credits list.

If you’re interested in this program, please reach out to Reggie Moton so we can guide you through the application process. From here we’ll help you figure out if the college credits are through SOAR or through a 1-on-1 Articulation Agreement.

If it’s SOAR:

    • Your Technical GPA must be 2.5 or higher to apply.
    • In order for your credits to be accepted, you have to be accepted to the college/university.
    • Have your instructor fill out the following forms:
    • You’ll need a copy of the following documents:
      • Completed PAL (100% Mastery achieved)
      • NOCTI certificate (Competent or Advanced)
      • Industry Certification (optional but highly recommended)
      • High School Diploma
    • Official student transcript

Once you have all of the above, submit everything to Reginald Moton, our office’s Advanced Academic Coordinator.


If it’s a 1-on-1 Articulation Agreement:

Submit the following documents to Reginald Moton, our office’s Advanced Academic Coordinator:

  • Proof of acceptance into the college/university
  • Copy of high school diploma
  • Official student transcript
  • Secondary Competency Task List signed by the instructor
  • PA Certificate of Competency or PA Skills Certificate from CTE program area or local certificate (if applicable)
  • Earned industry certifications (if applicable)

If you got a score of 70% or higher on your NOCTI online exam:

Note: The NOCTI College Credit Recommendation Report can give you a cutting edge in being accepted to college, and even getting some courses waived.

You should have received a College Credit Recommendation Report.

You can use it by:

  • Including it in a portfolio
  • Approaching college/university programs to ask about credit opportunities
  • Applying for optional transcripted credit through Excelsior College

For more information please visit NOCTI’s website

FAQs

Is there a time limit after a qualifying student graduates from a SOAR program to receive the college credits?
Yes, the student has three years from their date of graduation to apply and be enrolled in the related CTE program at a partnering postsecondary institution to receive credit.

Are students required to complete all competencies on the POS Secondary Competency Task List?
Yes.

FAQs

I’m an employer or I represent an organization. Can I partner with CTE?

Yes! We partner with external organizations frequently, from workforce development programs to facilitating hiring fairs, and more! Please CONTACT us so we can learn what your needs are.

How do I get a work permit?

Which schools offer which programs?

For a quick overview of all of our programs and which schools offer them, visit our CTE Programs List.

How do I enroll in a CTE Program?

Check out Apply to CTE!

Why should I enroll in a CTE program?

On top of your normal classes, you’ll learn practical hands-on skills. You can earn industry certifications on top of your high school diploma. Certifications can help you get ahead in a college or job application. You’ll also have the chance to do internships or other work-based learning experiences.

When do CTE programs start?

CTE programs start in 10th grade and last until high school graduation. To complete the program, you’ll need to take the NOCTI exam.

What is NOCTI?

How are CTE programs different in a comprehensive neighborhood high school vs. a CTE high school?

There is no difference at all! No matter what type of school they are offered in, CTE programs have the same curriculum, instruction, and overall experience.

Is CTE only for students who are not going to college?

Nope! CTE is designed for all students. Many of our students who graduate from a CTE program do end up going to college. CTE programs help students make informed decisions about their future, as they learn about trade schools, apprenticeships, college programs, or jobs that hire straight out of high school.

Are CTE programs available in elementary or middle schools?

Our CTE programs are only available to high school students beginning in the 10th grade until the end of their senior year. But, some elementary and middle schools may offer CTE-related courses. To find out if any elementary or middle schools offer a CTE course, please contact those schools directly.

What is the cost for industry certification exams offered throughout all CTE programs?

The training, materials, and exams to obtain industry certifications are free to our CTE students.

How does CTE prepare students for life after high school?

Students who graduate from CTE programs have many options. They can:

  • Continue their education at colleges.
  • Go directly into the workforce.
  • Go to trade school.
  • Do an apprenticeship.
  • Some combination of all of the above.

CTE News & Events

NOTICE OF NONDISCRIMINATION
The School District of Philadelphia, an equal opportunity employer, does not discriminate in employment or education programs or activities, based on age, race, color, sex, sexual orientation, handicap, disability, religious creed, ancestry, national origin or Vietnam-era or any other veteran status, and provides equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups. Career and Technical Education program offerings include: Agriculture, Automotive/Transportation/Logistics, Business/Finance/Marketing, Communications/Graphics, Construction/Manufacturing, Culinary Arts/Hospitality, Cosmetology/Barbering, Fashion Design, Healthcare, and Information Technology. Publication of this policy is in accordance with state and federal laws, including Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and Sections 503 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Inquiries regarding this policy of non-discrimination may be directed to the General Counsel, at 440 N. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19130, or (215) 400-4120.

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