Skip to main content

«  View All Posts

Career and Technical Education (CTE) | CTE Month

CTE Month: Celebrating Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs)

February 13th, 2024 | 5 min. read

Print/Save as PDF

Especially during CTE month, it's important to recognize the positive impact of Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs) on the success of students.  After all, CTSOs play an integral role in ensuring that learners are engaged and excited about their future careers.

But what exactly is a CTSO? And how do they contribute to students' success in and out of the classroom?

In this article, you'll find four ways Career and Technical Student Organizations benefit learners:

  1. Leadership Development
  2. Competitive Events
  3. Professional Development
  4. Community Service

After reading, you'll have the chance to learn more about CTSOs so you can celebrate them during CTE month this year!


What Are Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs)?

Since 1917, student organizations have been an integral part of Career and Technical Education (CTE). Each year, two million students are actively involved in Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs) across the United States.

CTSOs are an essential component of CTE today. The Association for Career and Technical Education recognizes ten CTSOs, each catering to a different career cluster. Studies have shown, students who participate in CTSOs organizations show higher levels of motivation, academic engagement and career aspirations.

CTSOs are comprised of four pillars, leadership development, competitive events, professional development and community service. Within these four pillars, there are countless benefits of CTSOs. In this article we have highlighted a few of the benefits of being involved in CTSOs.


How Do CTSOs Benefit Learners?

CTSOs offer unique benefits to CTE students while they are still enrolled in schools. The skills learners develop and the opportunities they have can lead to long-term success in their careers of choice.

Below, we'll look at four key areas where involvement in a CTSO can make a lasting impact on learners' lives.


1. Leadership Development

In CTSOs, students participate in events and competitions allowing them to develop leadership skills. Whether participating at a local, regional or a national level, students learn professionalism and what it is like to be a part of a professional network. Communication skills and time management are two examples of the valuable leadership skills students develop in CTSOs.

Interpersonal communication is a vital part of student organizations. While speaking to businesses, industry or political leaders, students develop communication skills. Students are pushed beyond their comfort zones by speaking in front of others in a variety of settings. In addition to interpersonal communication, students develop written communication skills by writing speeches and scripts for events and competitions.

Between juggling school work, leadership roles and competitions, students learn to prioritize their time. Additionally, they learn to prioritize important tasks to meet deadlines. Time management is an essential skill needed in today’s workforce.

Professionalism, stellar communication and time management are qualities employers look for when they hire new employees. Students involved in CTSOs often assume leadership positions upon graduating high school, putting them in a position to transform the economy.


2. Competitive Events

Through CTSOs, students compete in career related events. These competitions integrate academic concepts and offer opportunities for students to develop and demonstrate industry related skills and competencies. Students also get exposed to a variety of industries. In fact, contests are often run with the help of industry, trade associations and labor organizations. Many competitions are tested or judged by industry representatives, ensuring they are exposed to careers they are interested in.

Many of the competitions in which students participate involve a question-and-answer period. This allows students to demonstrate their knowledge of specific topics. Through competitions, students learn decision and critical thinking skills. They learn to think on their feet and make decisions quickly. Increased evaluation, interpretation, analysis and open-mindedness are a few examples of the critical thinking skills students develop through CTSOs.

Students are often tasked to work as a team for competitions and leadership events. They learn how to work with others and to find common ground with their teammates. By working as a team, students learn the importance of varying perspectives and receiving feedback. Additionally, teamwork promotes workplace synergy when students share a mutual goal and encourage each other.


3. Professional Development

CTSO students also actively participate in many professional development events. Students attend conventions, trainings and competitions where they can build a professional network. Students learn the value of teamwork and build their self-confidence while attending events and competitions.

In addition to thinking critically, self-confidence is developed through CTSOs. Students are often asked to speak in front of businesses, the organization and in competitions. Speaking in front of others helps students build self-confidence. Additionally, students learn new skills and talents, which in turn increases their self-confidence in their capabilities.

By attending workshops and conferences, students build friendships both professionally and personally. CTSOs helps students build professional networks exposing them to industry professionals. Students build relationships and friendships with others in the organization.


4. Community Service

Student organizations allow students to grow and assume active roles in their community. Through volunteering, fundraising, giving and mentorship, students are encouraged to play a role in their communities. CTSO advisors often arrange opportunities for students to give back and offer their time to help others. Community service is one of the most important CTSO pillars.

CTSOs are effective instructional tools. Combining the four pillars of CTSOs, students become professionals and prepare for a career in a chosen field. CTSOs are much more than competitions or clubs, for many students these organizations are a starting point for students in a career.

CTSOs flourish when teachers use them as a supplemental tool for their curriculum. Teachers provide the foundation of the content in the classroom and then students gain career, leadership and personal skills by participating in CTSOs. Student organizations maximize employability skills for students to enter the workforce.


Celebrate Career and Technical Student Organizations During CTE Month

Career and Technical Student Organizations can make an incredible impact on the lives of students throughout the country. When students choose to become involved in CTSOs, they receive unique opportunities to develop career and leadership skills through competitive events and regional and national conferences.

This February, consider how you can celebrate CTSOs during CTE Month. By highlighting students' involvement in organization activities and their success at competitive events, you can go a long way to ensure CTE students are empowered and celebrated at your school.

Want to learn more about Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs) that could be a good fit for your program? Read about starting a chapter on our blog! What Is a CTSO and How Do I Start a Chapter?