This resource provides a national comparison of state policies and activities related to secondary career and technical education (CTE). This 50-State Comparison does not include CTE information at the postsecondary level. View individual state profiles here.

50-State Comparisons

Click on the items below to see data for all states. 

State CTE Directors

The entities or agencies where states house their CTE directors include K-12, postsecondary, workforce and independent CTE agencies. At least 36 states and the District of Columbia house their CTE director within their K-12 education system.

Funding Secondary CTE

States use a range of federal, state and local funding sources to support secondary CTE. This analysis focuses on how states fund CTE through categorical and foundational funding mechanisms in their K-12 education system. Categorical funding to districts for CTE generally falls into three categories: student-based, unit-based or cost-based formulas.

CTE Program Establishment or Approval

At least 37 states have policy that addresses CTE program establishment or approval. Across states, a variety of parties are responsible for the establishment or approval of secondary CTE programs. Establishment and approval authorities include state boards of education, state superintendents or commissioners of education, local education agencies and CTE-specific boards.

Career Clusters

Career clusters are a grouping of industry pathways identified and organized by states to structure CTE programs to meet student and industry needs. Each state has adopted clusters similar to the national career cluster framework to organize secondary CTE pathways.

CTE Diploma and Diploma Designations

At least 23 states have provisions for a CTE diploma or diploma designation. This analysis includes information on states that allow certifications, endorsements or other types of identifiers of successful completion of CTE programs as part of a standard high school diploma.


This analysis examined state statute and regulation to identify opportunities for students to attain industry-recognized credentials through CTE programs. At least 27 states and the District of Columbia have a policy in place that allows students to attain credentials. While not included in this comparison, some states address credential attainment outside of state policy.

CTE Teacher Certification and Licensure Requirements

States require a range of qualifications for teachers seeking CTE certification or licensure. In some states, requirements differ by specific CTE subject area or by existing educational or work experience.

Additional Resources

Career and Technical Education Policy Snapshot

2020 State of the State Addresses (see “Career/Technical Education” for a list of all related mentions in governors’ addresses)

State Approaches to Secondary CTE Funding blog post

What’s Required to Become a CTE Teacher?  blog post

Opportunities for Career Credentials in Secondary CTE blog post

 PUBLISHED: April 1, 2020

 AUTHOR(S): , ,



 STATE(S): Nationwide

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