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Career and Technical Education (CTE) | Texas

What are the Texas CTE Programs of Study?

April 30th, 2024 | 16 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 career and technical education instructor, you may know that career and technical education (CTE) includes many programs of study, each of which all have a varying number of career pathways. Every state uses these programs of study and pathways as foundations for their own CTE regulations.

But since each state has its own CTE standards, it's important, it's important to review how programs are organized in your state.

In this article, we’ll dive into the 14 Texas CTE programs of study to give you a better understanding of the pathways students can choose:

  1. Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources
  2. Architecture and Construction
  3. Arts, Audio/Video Technology, and Communications
  4. Business, Marketing, and Finance
  5. Education and Training
  6. Energy
  7. Health Science
  8. Hospitality and Tourism
  9. Human Services
  10. Information Technology
  11. Law and Public Service
  12. Manufacturing 
  13. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
  14. Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics

By the end of this article, you’ll understand each of the Texas programs of study to help students better navigate your CTE program.

An Overview of Texas Career and Technical Education

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) specifically wants to help educators “provide high quality career and technical programs for students.”

To accomplish this, all Texas CTE courses have specific Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) standards, which students must meet. TEKS are reviewed frequently to keep up with industry changes and ensure students are prepared for their future careers.

Earning industry-based certifications (IBCs) is a critical part of the CTE experience for Texas students. Depending on the programs and pathways students choose, they may need to pass an industry certification exam in order to work in the field. CTE programs of study are aligned with specific industry certifications, which can be found on the Texas state IBC list. The state list includes nine industry certifications hosted on the iCEV Testing Platform.

In addition to the courses and certification programs, students interested in pursuing a career in one of the pathways can choose to join a career and technical student organization (CTSO).

Now that you know the basics of CTE in Texas, let’s talk about the 14 programs of study!

1. Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources

In Texas, the Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources (AFNR) program of study is focused on “the essential elements of life -- food, water, land, and air.”

The AFNR program includes these six pathways:

  1. Agriculture Business, Leadership, and Communications
  2. Animal Science
  3. Agricultural Technology and Mechanical Systems
  4. Environmental and Natural Resources
  5. Food Science and Technology
  6. Plant Science

Within those pathways, there are around 30 courses in the Texas AFNR program of study.

At the national level, the CTSO open for students in the AFNR program is the National FFA Organization. Students in Texas can join the Texas FFA, which is a state-specific version of the national association.

2. Architecture and Construction

The Architecture & Construction program of study prepares students for careers that involve designing, planning, managing, building, or maintaining a built structure.

In Texas, this program currently has seven pathways:

  1. Architectural Drafting and Design
  2. Carpentry
  3. Construction Management and Inspection
  4. Electrical
  5. HVAC and Sheet Metal
  6. Masonry
  7. Plumbing and Pipefitting

Within those pathways, there are more than 30 courses for students to choose from. All students start by taking Principles of Architecture to get an overview of the various careers available and help them decide which pathway to pursue.

Unlike the AFNR program, there are not specific CTSOs for students in Architecture & Construction. However, the TEA suggests that students consider joining SkillsUSA Texas or the Texas Technology Student Association (TSA).

3. Arts, Audio Visual Technology, and Communications

Students in the Arts, A/V Technology & Communications (AAVTC) program of study can choose one of two pathways related to arts, design, journalism, and entertainment services:

  1. Graphic Design and Interactive Media
  2. Digital Communications

Though divided into only two pathways, each of them is quite broad, and there are more than 40 courses to choose from. In addition, some students also have the option to pursue the Printing and Imaging pathway on the regional level.

Like the Architecture & Construction program, there is no dedicated CTSO for AAVTC, but students can choose to join SkillsUSA Texas or the Texas TSA.

4. Business, Marketing, and Finance

In Texas, the Business, Marketing, and Finance program of study is a more recent addition, created by combining the Marketing and Finance and Business Management programs.

This CTE program is dedicated to teaching students about “careers in planning, organizing, directing, and evaluating business functions," and is made up of four pathways:

  1. Accounting and Financial Services
  2. Business Management
  3. Entrepreneurship
  4. Marketing and Sales
  5. Real Estate

Within those pathways, students will find more than 30 courses, including introductory classes like Touch System Data Entry. Retail Management is also available in some areas as a regional program of study.

In terms of CTSOs, students in these pathways have three great options: Texas Business Professionals of America (Texas BPA), Texas Future Business Leaders of America - Phi Beta Lambda (Texas FBLA-PBL), and Texas DECA.

5. Education and Training

The Education and Training program of study prepares students for careers in public education or training and support services.

Because this program is so specialized compared to some of the others, these courses are divided into only two pathways:

  1. Early Learning
  2. Teaching and Training

In both pathways, students take Principles of Education and Training as an introductory course.

The TEA lists two CTSOs that closely align with the Education and Training pathways: Texas Family, Career, & Community Leaders of America (Texas FCCLA) and the Texas Association of Future Educators (TAFE).

6. Energy

The Energy program of study prepares students for careers in designing, planning, maintaining, transmitting, and distributing traditional and alternative energy, and is divided into three programs of study:

  1. Oil and Gas Exploration and Production
  2. Refining and Chemical Processes
  3. Renewable Energy

There are 15 courses available to choose from in the Energy program of study, including introductory courses like Foundations of Energy. 

7. Health Science

The Health Science program of study trains students in providing therapeutic services, diagnostics services, health informatics, and biotechnology research and development. It is currently divided into five programs of study:

  1. Exercise Science, Wellness, and Restoration
  2. Health Informatics
  3. Diagnostic and Therapeutic Services
  4. Nursing Science
  5. Biomedical Science

There are expansive opportunities in health science for Texas students, including a robust curriculum of health science courses.

The CTSO dedicated to the Health Science program is the Texas Health Occupations Students of America organization (Texas HOSA).

8. Hospitality and Tourism

The Hospitality and Tourism program of study specializes in teaching students the management, marketing, and operations of restaurants, lodging, attractions, and travel-related services. It is currently divided into three pathways:

  1. Culinary Arts
  2. Lodging and Resort Management
  3. Travel, Tourism, and Attractions

Unlike the Health Science program, there are no specific CTSOs for Hospitality & Tourism. However, students can choose one of the more general organizations such as Texas FCCLA, Texas DECA, or SkillsUSA Texas.

9. Human Services

In Texas, the Human Services program of study prepares individuals for careers in counseling, mental health services, family and community services, personal care services, and more. It is divided into two pathways:

  1. Family and Community Services
  2. Health and Wellness

Classes in human services are varied and include everything from Counseling and Mental Health to the entire Cosmetology and Barbering course sequence. Cosmetology and Personal Care Services is also available in some areas as a regional program of study.

There are no dedicated CTSOs for this program, but the TEA recommends that interested students join Texas FCCLA or SkillsUSA Texas.

10. Information Technology

The Information Technology (IT) program of study prepares students for careers involved in creating and managing hardware, software, and digital media.

The IT program in Texas includes five pathways:

  1. Information Technology Support and Services
  2. Networking Systems
  3. Web Development
  4. Cybersecurity
  5. Programming and Software Development

There are more than a dozen courses in Texas related to careers in IT, with Principles of Information Technology and Professional Communications being among the most popular.

A good CTSO for students in IT pathways to join is the Texas TSA.

11. Law and Public Service

The Law and Public Service program of study specializes in planning, managing, and providing legal, public safety, and protective services. It is divided into four programs of study:

  1. Fire Science
  2. Government and Public Administration
  3. Law Enforcement
  4. Legal Studies

This program doesn’t have a specific CTSO, but the TEA suggests that interested students join SkillsUSA Texas.

12. Manufacturing

The Manufacturing program of study prepares students for careers related to different areas of production, including the processing of materials into final products, or the maintenance of final products.

In Texas, there are four programs of study within this program:

  1. Robotics and Automation Technology
  2. Manufacturing Technology
  3. Welding
  4. Industrial Maintenance

For all students, Principles of Manufacturing is a common first course.

As with some of the other programs of study, there are no dedicated CTSOs for students in Manufacturing. However, they can choose to join SkillsUSA Texas.

13. Engineering

The new Engineering program of study focuses on teaching skills specific to different types of engineering technology and work. The program is made up of four statewide pathways:

  1. Engineering Foundations
  2. Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
  3. Electrical Engineering
  4. Civil Engineering

Geospatial Engineering and Land Surveying and Drone (Unmanned Vehicle) are also available as regional programs of study.

Engineering who are interested in joining a CTSO can choose between the Texas TSA and SkillsUSA Texas.

14. Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics

The Transportation, Distribution, & Logistics (TDL) program of study prepares students for careers related to “planning, management, and movement of people, materials, and goods” by various methods.

In Texas, this program of study is now made of five pathways:

  1. Automotive and Collision Repair
  2. Aviation Maintenance
  3. Diesel and Heavy Equipment Maintenance and Commercial Drivers
  4. Distribution, Logistics, and Warehousing
  5. Aviation (Pilots)

There are many courses to choose from in the TDL program, including courses addressing automotive, diesel, and small engines. Some students can also select Maritime as a regional program of study.

There are no CTSOs dedicated to transportation, distribution, and logistics, but the TEA recommends that students join either SkillsUSA Texas or the Texas TSA.

Save Time and Empower Texas CTE Students

In this article, you've discovered the 14 Texas programs of study, as well as the many pathways, courses, and student organizations learners can pursue.

No matter what program or pathway you teach, having the right curriculum is essential to ensuring students have success in their career fields.

Many Texas CTE teachers feel they have to spend hours creating unique and exciting course material that will grab their students’ attention. But there are easier ways to engage your students.

When you adopt a comprehensive curriculum like iCEV, you gain access to customizable course materials you can use to teach students across CTE pathways.

To learn more about how Texas teachers use the iCEV curriculum, visit the Texas state resource page. You'll learn about iCEV to help you decide if it's right for your program:

Visit the Texas State Resource Page