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.
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Depending on the program, technical instruction in district high schools may begin in 9th or 10th grade. The major programs currently offered include:
Accounting and Financial Services
Sports Marketing and Management
Digital Media Production
Film and Video Production
Computer Aided Drafting and Design (CADD)
Electrical and Power Transmission
Electronics Technology/Automated Systems
Facility and Property Maintenance
Precision Machine Tool Technology
Early Childhood Education and Childcare
Emergency Medical Technician/ Fire Academy
Health Information Records Technology
Health Related Technologies
Baking and Pastry Arts
Computer Supports Systems Technology
Computer Systems Networking
Natural Resources Management
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.
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.
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.
Murrell Dobbins Career and Technical Education High School, North Philadelphia
Jules Mastbaum Area Vocational High School, Kensington
Swenson Arts and Technology High School, Northeast Philadelphia
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:
Northeast High School, Rhawnhurst
Abraham Lincoln High School, Mayfair
South Philadelphia High School (Southern), South Philadelphia
Benjamin Franklin High School, Spring Garden
Roxborough High School, Roxborough
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.
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