Career Clusters

A Career Cluster is a grouping of occupations and broad industries based on commonalities.  

Career Pathways

Career Pathways are connected education and training programs and support services that enable individuals to secure employment with a specific occupational sector and to advance over time to successively higher levels of education or employment in that sector.

Virginia's Office of Career and Technical Education has adopted the nationally recognized structure of 16 career clusters and their accompanying 79 career pathways and sample career specialties or occupations to help students investigate careers and design their courses of study to advance their career goals.

Overview of the 16 Career Clusters

AV Pathway logo     
Designing, producing, exhibiting, performing, writing, and publishing multimedia content including visual and performing arts and design, journalism, and entertainment services.

You may like a career in Arts & A/V Technology & Communications if you like:

  • Performing with a school or community drama club
  • Performing music, drama, and/or dance for an audience
  • Using a computer to create graphic designs
  • Creating an original video or film
  • Sketching or painting pictures
  • Taking photographs
  • Writing poems, songs, stories, and plays
  • Making jewelry, sculpture, ceramics, or stained glass
  • Designing a newspaper layout (artwork)
  • Being a disc jockey for an amateur radio station 

Agriculture and Food Pathway logo    
The production, processing, marketing, distribution, financing, and development of agricultural commodities and resources including food, fiber, wood products, natural resources, horticulture, and other plant and animal products/resources. 

You may like a career in Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources if you like:  

  • Taking care of pets
  • Working in a garden
  • Creating landscapes
  • Planting flowers and plants
  • Transplanting small trees
  • Nursing sick animals back to health
  • Brushing or grooming dogs, cats, or horses
  • Hiking through forests and watching wildlife
  • Chopping wood and replanting trees
  • Identifying environmental hazards and sick or dying plants
  • Working with farm animals and equipment
  • Planting and harvesting crops

architecture and construction pathway logo    
Careers in designing, planning, managing, building and maintaining the built environment. 

You may like a career in Architecture & Construction if you like:  

  • Fixing things
  • Using tools
  • Building things
  • Cutting wood
  • Painting houses
  • Landscaping
  • Planting flowers
  • Drawing houses
  • Building a tree house
  • Making furniture
  • Helping build homes or buildings
  • Building a bird house
  • Building a dog house
  • Going to home improvement stores
  • Going to hardware stores
  • Watching big machinery
  • Building roads


business pathway logo    
Business Management and Administration careers encompass planning, organizing, directing and evaluating business functions essential to efficient and productive business operations. Business Management and Administration career opportunities are available in every sector of the economy.

You may like a career in Business Management and Administration if you like:  

  • Typing the minutes of a school club meeting
  • Filing or sorting mail or papers 
  • Running your own business
  • Developing web pages
  • Desktop Publishing
  • Managing tasks for a group
  • Preparing reports
  • Analyzing data
  • Typing documents for others
  • Volunteering to answer phones
  • Being a club officer
  • Being an SCA officer
  • Organizing a fund-raiser
  • Organizing a school event

education and training pathway logo    
Planning, managing and providing education and training services, and related learning support services.

You may like a career in Education & Training if you like to:

  • Tutor young children
  • Help friends with homework
  • Read to younger children
  • Baby sit younger children
  • Coach younger kids in sports
  • Help others draw, write, or read
  • Attend a summer camp
  • Feel good when others are successful
  • Help others in sports, games, or art
  • Help out in after school programs
  • Be a mentor to a younger child
  • Teach others how to do something
  • Create crafts, art, or bulletin boards
  • Play games with spelling, reading or math

finance pathway logo    
Planning, services for financial and investment planning, banking, insurance, and business financial management.

You may like a career in Finance if you like:

  • Planning a mock stock market game
  • Investing money
  • Studying investments
  • Balancing a checkbook
  • Opening a savings/checking account
  • Being treasurer for a school club
  • Organizing a fund-raiser
  • Collecting money for a school or community event
  • Developing a budget
  • Using spreadsheets and financial computer programs
  • Being an income tax volunteer

government and public administration pathway logo    
Executing governmental functions to include Governance; National Security; Foreign Service; Planning; Revenue and Taxation; Regulation; and Management and Administration at the local, state, and federal levels.

You may like a career in Government & Public Administration if you like:

  • Campaigning for a political candidate
  • Making political speeches
  • Volunteering as an urban planning committee member or town board member
  • Running for class office
  • Running for club office
  • Planning and preparing budgets
  • Participating in a debate or on a debate team
  • Volunteering as a legislative aide
  • Learning and speaking a foreign language
  • Researching and writing grants

health-science pathway logo    
Planning, managing, and providing therapeutic services, diagnostic services, health informatics, support services, and biotechnology research and development.

You may like a career in Health Science if you like to:

  • Take care of sick relatives
  • Watch medical shows on TV
  • Learn first aid and CPR
  • Volunteer at a local retirement home
  • Volunteer as a hospital aide
  • Be a team manager on your school's athletic teams     
  • Assist persons in wheelchairs with daily tasks
  • Identify parts of the body from diagrams
  • Learn how the body functions
  • Volunteer at a rescue squad
  • Take classes in anatomy & biology

hospitality and tourism pathway logo     
Hospitality & Tourism encompasses the management, marketing and operations of restaurants and other food services, lodging, attractions, recreation events and travel related services.

You may like a career in Hospitality & Tourism if you like:

  • Working in a restaurant
  • Planning vacations
  • Planning school trips
  • Planning school functions
  • Cooking & baking
  • Serving meals
  • Participating in sports
  • Recreational activities
  • Being a lifeguard
  • Exercising and working out
  • Officiating a sporting event

human services pathway logo     
Preparing individuals for employment in career pathways that relate to families and human needs. 

You may like a career in Human Services if you like:

  • Listening to and helping friends with problems
  • Serving food at a homeless shelter
  • Working with the elderly
  • Shopping, comparing prices and consumer goods
  • Volunteering to be a Big Brother or Big Sister
  • Making a family menu
  • Participating in youth groups or community organizations Working as a dietetic aide
  • Delivering food and clothes to people in need
  • Volunteering at a local retirement home

information pathway logo     
Building Linkages in IT Occupations Framework: For Entry Level, Technical, and Professional Careers Related to the Design, Development, Support and Management of Hardware, Software, Multimedia, and Systems Integration Services. 

You may like a career in Information Technology if you like to:

  • Build Computers
  • Play Video Games
  • Develop Web Pages
  • Install Software
  • Assemble Computer Hardware
  • Surf the Internet
  • Repair machines or computer systems
  • Learn new software programs
  • Set up computer networks
  • Analyzing data or information
  • Documenting and recording information

public safety pathway logo   

Planning, managing, and providing legal, public safety, protective services and homeland security, including professional and technical support services.

You may like a career in Public Safety, Corrections, and Security if you like:

  • Reading mystery novels and trying to solve the clues 
  • Playing “Clue” or other mystery board games
  • Watching mystery movies or “courtroom dramas”
  • Listening to a police scanner
  • Running errands or volunteering for a lawyer’s office
  • Following court cases in the news
  • Participating in training to be an EMT
  • Volunteering to search for missing pets or persons
  • Participating in search and/or rescue training >
  • Volunteering at the local fire department

manufacturing pathway logo    
Planning, managing and performing the processing of materials into intermediate or final products and related professional and technical support activities such as production planning and control, maintenance and manufacturing/process engineering. 

You may like a career in Manufacturing if you like:

  • Welding or working with metals
  • Repairing and upholstering furniture
  • Creating wood carvings
  • Taking machine shop classes
  • Making belts or other leather goods
  • Operating a printing press
  • Installing and repairing home stereo equipment
  • Sewing, weaving, knitting or other needlework
  • Building cabinets, shelves, and other wood working

marketing pathway logo  
Planning, managing, and performing marketing activities to reach organizational objectives. 

You may like a career in Marketing Sales and Service if you like to:

  • Cut & style hair
  • Sell products for fund-raisers
  • Take tours of houses that are for sale
  • Design or model clothes
  • Give people advice on products they should buy
  • Decorate your house or rearrange furniture
  • Host a yard sale
  • Arrange and sell flowers
  • Fix watches and clocks

science and technology pathway logo     
Planning, managing, and providing scientific research and professional and technical services (e.g., physical science, social science, engineering) including laboratory and testing services, and research and development services. 

You may like a career in Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics if you like to:

  • Design machinery
  • Construct buildings
  • Construct highways
  • Develop new products
  • Develop new machinery
  • Design and test vehicles or planes
  • Visit a science museum
  • Explore caves
  • Collect rocks
  • Identify plants, animals, and marine life
  • Conduct science experiments
  • Study objects
  • Design experiments
  • Watch the weather
  • Track storms
  •  Stargaze

transportation and distribution pathway logo     
Planning, management, and movement of people, materials, and goods by road, pipeline, air, rail and water and related professional and technical support services such as transportation infrastructure planning and management, logistics services, mobile equipment and facility maintenance. 

You may like a career in Transportation, Distribution & Logistics if you like to:

  • Repair vehicles
  • Organize projects
  • Learn about airplanes and jets
  • Be physically active
  • Focus on one task
  • Travel

(Information and icons adapted from Virginia Career View)