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Career and Technical Education in Philly: The Basics

Career and Technical Education in Philly: The Basics

What is CTE?

Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs allow high school students to integrate rigorous academics and technical skills during their course of study. Accredited by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, CTE high schools provide students with hands-on training in many high-priority and high-demand job areas.

Depending on the program, students typically take a full load of regular or college-preparatory classes while receiving 1,080 hours of technical training and instruction in professional and personal skills.

CTE programs provide students with real-world work experiences to prepare for post-graduation employment or continuing studies. Students often visit local businesses, take part in mock interviews, have opportunities to find internships or co-op positions during their senior year, and frequently find paying summer jobs that use and build their growing professional skills.

In many programs, students who successfully complete their chosen course of study receive an industry-recognized certification, which greatly enhances their chances of employment after graduation. Students in some CTE programs may also earn up to 12 free college credits accepted at many colleges and universities in Pennsylvania. Students are still required to complete the same graduation requirements as a traditional student and will leave high school with a diploma.

In addition to these career benefits, a 2015 District evaluation showed that students enrolled in CTE tracks are more likely to graduate on time. They’re also leaving school more likely to excel in areas such as goal-setting, planning and staying engaged with classes.

Go online to view the 2020 Philly High School Fair in mid-September to explore over 100 Philadelphia high schools and find your great school. Stay tuned for more details.


District Programs and Sample Career Tracks

Depending on the program, technical instruction in district high schools may begin in 9th or 10th grade. The major programs currently offered include:

Business and Finance

  • Accounting and Financial Services
  • Business Administration
  • Sports Marketing and Management

Communications and Graphics

  • Digital Media Production
  • Film and Video Production
  • Graphic Design

Construction and Manufacturing

  • Architectural Drafting
  • Carpentry
  • Computer Aided Drafting and Design (CADD)
  • Construction Technologies
  • Electrical and Power Transmission
  • Electromechanical/Mechatronics
  • Electronics Technology/Automated Systems
  • Engineering Technologies
  • Facility and Property Maintenance
  • Plumbing Technology
  • Precision Machine Tool Technology
  • Welding Technology

Early Childhood Education and Childcare

  • Early Childhood Education and Childcare


  • Dental Assisting
  • Emergency Medical Technician/ Fire Academy
  • Health Information Records Technology
  • Health Related Technologies
  • Medical/Clinical Assistant

Hospitality/Culinary Arts

  • Baking and Pastry Arts
  • Culinary Arts

Information Technology

  • Computer Supports Systems Technology
  • Computer Systems Networking
  • Web Design

Natural Sciences

  • Animal Sciences
  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Horticulture
  • Natural Resources Management

Personal Care

  • Barbering
  • Cosmetology
  • Fashion Design


  • Automotive Technology
  • Autobody Collision Repair
  • Logistics, Materials and Supply Chain Management

Check the District’s CTE site for detailed program descriptions and in which schools they are offered. As the offerings evolve as the job market changes, updates will also be posted.


District and Non-District Options

The School District of Philadelphia is the largest provider of CTE in the city, with more than 40 programs of study. There are also two major CTE high schools outside the district system:

Please see each school’s profile for details about specific programs and application procedures.


District Locations and How to Apply

All CTE programs within the School District of Philadelphia are now considered citywide-admission programs and accept applications through the District’s School Selection Process.

The following five high schools exclusively specialize in career and technical education. These programs accept students citywide, and students should apply to these programs directly.

All other programs are part of an existing school, many of which are large neighborhood high schools. The District recognizes these neighborhood schools as having robust CTE programs:

See the schools’ profiles on greatphillyschools.org or the District’s latest School Directory for specifics.

The admissions process begins during 8th grade. Although students may apply to any high school in the city that offers a CTE program they are interested in, admission is based on available spaces, and citywide- and special-admission schools have additional requirements. Read more about the process of applying to a Public District High School or visit the District’s Office of Career and Technical Education.


More Information

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