Career Technical Education (CTE) Credential Quick Facts

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Teach vocational subjects

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Prior work experience in the industry area is needed to qualify for Preliminary

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3-year issuance for Preliminary; 5-year issuance for Clear

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Begin teaching before completing a credentialing program

Is teaching Career Technical Education right for you?

Are you currently working in an industry unrelated to education but considering a career change? Maybe you've always wanted to teach and would like to pass on your knowledge to the next generation and prepare them for a successful career in your field. The Career Technical Education (CTE) credential authorizes you to teach vocational subjects to students who want to learn the skills needed to work in a specific industry someday. CTE is vocational or trade education, which is different from the regular kind of academic education that is more commonly taught in public K-12 schools. Teaching CTE is authorized by CTE credentials, while teaching academic education is authorized by academic teaching credentials such as the PK-3 Early Childhood Education (ECE) Specialist Instruction credential, Multiple Subject credentialSingle Subject credential, and Education Specialist Instruction credential, depending on the age of the students and the subject being taught.

These are the industry sectors available for CTE credentials.

  • Agriculture and Natural Resources
  • Arts, Media, and Entertainment
  • Building and Construction Trades
  • Business and Finance
  • Education, Child Development, and Family Services
  • Energy, Environment, and Utilities
  • Engineering and Architecture
  • Fashion and Interior Design


  • Health Science and Medical Technology
  • Hospitality, Tourism, and Recreation
  • Information and Communication Technologies
  • Manufacturing and Product Development
  • Marketing, Sales, and Service
  • Public Services
  • Transportation

So what's the process?

The path to obtaining a CTE credential looks quite different from the path to obtaining an academic teaching credential. You need a high school diploma, and instead of completing a credentialing program, you need prior work experience in a CTE industry. (Please note that the process outlined in Becoming a Teacher in California only covers the process of obtaining an academic teaching credential and does not cover the process of obtaining a CTE credential.) 

If you are interested in obtaining a CTE credential, connect with a CTE program to request that they do an evaluation for you to see if you qualify for a Preliminary CTE credential. If you do, the CTE program can recommend you for this credential and you can start teaching CTE. The Preliminary CTE credential is valid for three years. During that time, you will need to complete a Clear CTE credential program to upgrade your Preliminary CTE credential to a Clear CTE credential, which is valid for five years and renewable.

Ready to get started on your Career Technical Education credential?

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Contact a CTE program today to request an evaluation. A list of approved CTE programs may be found on the Approved Institutions and Programs dashboard by filtering on the left under Select Credential Program for Career Technical Education.


For the full list of requirements to obtain a CTE credential, check out Designated Subjects.

Updated April 09, 2024