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CTE Career Clusters | Architecture | Construction

Architecture and Construction Career Cluster: What Is It?

May 23rd, 2023 | 6 min. read

Brad Hummel

Brad Hummel

Coming from a family of educators, Brad knows both the joys and challenges of teaching well. Through his own teaching background, he’s experienced both firsthand. As a writer for iCEV, Brad’s goal is to help teachers empower their students by listening to educators’ concerns and creating content that answers their most pressing questions about career and technical education.

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As a high school CTE teacher, you’ve probably been asked to teach courses in the Architecture and Construction career cluster. Even though these are popular careers, you might be unsure about what precisely this cluster entails. What pathways and jobs are involved, and how can you get your students excited about pursuing these critical subjects?

In this article, you'll discover answers to the most essential questions about the Architecture and Construction career cluster:

  • What Is the Architecture and Construction Career Cluster?
  • Why Is This Career Cluster Important?
  • What Are Career Pathways Within This Cluster?

When you've finished reading, you'll have a more complete picture of the Architecture and Construction career cluster so you can help your students choose rewarding careers that fit their passions.

What Is the Architecture and Construction Career Cluster?

The Architecture and Construction career cluster is one of 16 clusters in career and technical education (CTE). This career cluster concerns all aspects of the construction process, including designing, managing, building, and maintaining structures.

Creating the buildings and support structures people use daily is a complex process involving a range of highly specialized careers. Through technology and ingenuity, professionals in the Architecture and Construction career cluster ensure that projects come together cohesively to benefit individuals, organizations, and the general public.

Architecture and construction careers attract students with a variety of interests and abilities. Students with a high aptitude in mathematics or engineering will do well in the design and planning aspects of architecture, while business-minded students can succeed in project management. Meanwhile, students who enjoy working with technology and machinery can excel in construction field work.

Why Is This Career Cluster Important?

The Architecture and Construction career cluster is essential to the function and advancement of society in the United States and around the world. Professionals in construction and architectural careers play a vital role in the development and success of their communities by creating and sustaining the physical infrastructure that supports a growing population.

By creating the buildings, transportation systems, and support structures behind our increasingly interconnected global community, career professionals in construction and architecture ensure that industrial progress occurs safely to meet the needs of governments, corporations, and families. From the schools we learn in to the roads we travel, workers in the Architecture and Construction cluster have a profound impact on the success of everyday facilities many take for granted.

Ultimately, careers in this pathway are essential to our global infrastructure. When students elect to pursue architecture and construction opportunities, they choose a rewarding career that directly impacts the livelihoods of everyone in their communities. Regardless of which pathway students pursue, each unique opportunity in this cluster helps ensure a safe and sustainable future for people everywhere.

What Are Career Pathways Within This Cluster?

There are three career pathways within the Architecture and Construction cluster. When students choose a path, they specialize their CTE education to prepare them for specific careers in the overall construction process.

The three pathways are:

  1. Design/Pre-Construction Pathway
  2. Construction Pathway
  3. Maintenance/Operations Pathway

Each path begins with the Principles of Architecture and Construction course. From there, students complete specialized coursework within each pathway. Let's take a closer look at what each pathway entails and what careers students can pursue.

Design/Pre-Construction Pathway

The Design/Pre-Construction pathway concerns the earliest steps in the construction process. These careers involve different aspects of designing, planning, and approving structures and their environments.

According to Advance CTE, examples of employment opportunities in Design and Pre-Construction include: 

  • Architect
  • Civil Engineer or Civil Engineering Technician
  • Code Official
  • Cost Estimator
  • Drafter
  • Environmental Engineer or Environmental Engineering Technician
  • Interior Designer
  • Landscape Architect
  • Planner/Designer
  • Preservationist
  • Surveyor

The level of education required varies depending on the job. For example, learners will need a college degree to become architects or engineers. On the other hand, they could become drafters, interior designers, or surveyors right out of high school.

Construction Pathway

The Construction pathway handles the execution of a planned design. Careers in this pathway directly connect to the construction of buildings and related structures. Many of these opportunities address individual construction project elements, such as window manufacturing and installation or concrete pouring and finishing.

There is a large variety of careers in this pathway, including:

  • Carpenter
  • Concrete Finisher
  • Construction Foreman
  • Electrician
  • Explosives Worker
  • Field Supervisor
  • Glazier
  • Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanic
  • Landscaper/Groundskeeper
  • Mason
  • Painter
  • Plumber
  • Roofer
  • Safety Director

While some opportunities in construction can require additional education, most involve specialized trades students can begin to study and work at while still in high school. This allows learners to hone their skills and become invaluable to future employers.

Maintenance/Operations Pathway

Maintenance/Operations is the final phase of the construction process and the last pathway in the career cluster. This concerns the care and upkeep of existing structures to ensure they are safe and functional for the long term.

Many of the careers in the Construction pathway can also fall under maintenance and operations. In addition, you’ll find professions such as:

  • Demolition Engineer
  • General Maintenance Contractor
  • Hazardous Materials Remover
  • Highway Maintenance Worker
  • Hydro Testing Technician
  • Preservationist
  • Reliability Engineer
  • Remodeler
  • Restoration Technician
  • Thermal Control Technician
  • Wastewater Maintenance

Like the Construction pathway, a few career choices in maintenance and operations may require additional degree work. But most are skilled professions students can pursue during school and after graduation.

Prepare Your Students For Success in Architecture and Construction

The Architecture and Construction career cluster is just one of 16 clusters in Career and Technical Education (CTE). But students who pursue careers in these fields can impact nearly every aspect of their communities.

In this article, you've discovered more about the Architecture and Construction career cluster and why it's essential. You've also learned about the three pathways that correspond with different parts of the construction process, and the specific careers students pursue in each of these areas.

But regardless of which pathway students choose, many educators have found that the best way to teach their learners is with a comprehensive curriculum. The iCEV Architecture, Construction, and Manufacturing curriculum includes everything you need to teach courses throughout these CTE pathways and set students up for success.

To discover what courses you can teach with iCEV, visit the Architecture, Construction, and Manufacturing curriculum page. You’ll be able to learn more about iCEV to decide if it’s right for your program.

Discover the Architecture, Construction, & Manufacturing Curriculum