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Earnings for CTE Study

High school Career and Technical Education (CTE) has received increased attention from policymakers and researchers in recent years. The Earnings for CTE Study fills a needed gap in the growing research base by examining heterogeneity within the wide range of programs falling under the broad moniker of CTE, highlighting the need for nuance in research and policy conversations that often consider CTE as monolithic. Using student-level course-taking records, unemployment insurance, and National Student Clearinghouse data, we examine outcomes including earnings, postsecondary education, and poverty avoidance. We find substantial differences for students in fields as diverse as health care, Information Technology (IT), and construction. We also highlight heterogeneity for student populations historically overrepresented in CTE, and we find large differences in outcomes for CTE students, particularly by gender.

Researchers Show

In the recent “Heterogeneity in High School Career and Technical Education Outcomes,” research article, researchers Walter G. Ecton and Shaun M. Dougherty used state longitudinal data in Massachusetts to examine earnings gains for career and technical education (CTE) concentrators and non-CTE students with similar observable characteristics. They also explored how the outcomes of CTE concentrators differ across different student subpopulations and different career clusters. Areas of note from the research on student earnings within the first seven years following high school graduation includes:

  • Overall, students who were CTE concentrators earned $3,359 more per year than non-CTE students, but earnings differences were larger for males than for females.
  • CTE concentrators who were Black and Latino, low-income, and students with disabilities all had higher earnings than peers who were not concentrators.
  • CTE concentrators who attended college earned more per year than their non-CTE peers who also attended college in many fields. For example, in the field of healthcare, CTE concentrators who attended college earned $5,491 more per year than non-CTE students who also attended college.
  • There were also differences in earnings for students who did not attend college. The CTE concentrators who did not attend college earned $6,053 more per year than their non-CTE peers who did not attend college.
  • One career cluster where CTE concentrators had even higher earnings was in the field of construction, where they earned $7,698 more per year than their peers in the field who were non-CTE students. On the other hand, students who concentrated their studies in hospitality, agriculture, and communications saw little to no increase in their earnings.

Source: Earnings for CTE Study


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