Online Report: Eight-Year Postsecondary Outcomes of Career and Technical Education Students from the High School Class of 2004

This report examines the labor market outcomes of high school career and technical education (CTE) students. Using nationally representative data from the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002), the report analyzes a recent cohort of high school graduates (the class of 2004) as of 2012, eight years after they had completed high school. For select measures, the report also compares the labor market outcomes of the class of 2004 to those from the class of 1992 using data from the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS:88).

Characteristics of High School CTE Students

For the purposes of this report, high school CTE students are divided into four groups based on the number of occupational credits they earn during high school.

The current report focuses on the following four groups:

Nonparticipants:

Earned less than one occupational CTE credit

Samplers:

Earned one to two occupational CTE credits in one or more fields



Explorers:

Earned three or more occupational CTE credits, but no three credits in any single occupational CTE field

Earned three or more occupational CTE credits in at least one occupational CTE field

The report focuses on comparing CTE concentrators to nonparticipants, although results are presented for all groups.
18 Percent

of students from the high school class of 2004 concentrated in one or more CTE fields of study.

42 percent

earned at least three CTE credits but did not concentrate in a single area.

The following groups were more likely to be CTE concentrators:
Males
Fifty seven percent males. Forty three percent females.
Students from the lowest socioeconomic status (SES) quartile
Twenty six percent from the lowest SES quartile. Seventeen percent from the highest SES quartile.
Students who scored in the bottom quartile of ELS:2002's math assessment
Thirty one percent scored in the bottom quartile. Eighteen percent scored in the top quartile.

A lower percentage of CTE concentrators earned a bachelor's degree or higher
within eight years of completing high school than nonparticipants.

Twenty seven percent of CTE concentrators earned a bachelors degree. Forty nine percent of non-participants earned a bachelors degree.

CTE concentrators were more likely to have completed
only a high school education than nonparticipants.

Seventeen percent of CTE concentrators have completed only a high school education. Six percent of non-participants have completed only a high school education.

Employment and Earnings Outcomes of High School CTE Students From the Class of 2004

Employment and earnings were reported for those not currently enrolled in college.

There were no statistically significant differences in
employment status among students with different levels of
high school CTE participation.
Between seventy five and seventy seven percent of high school completers from 2004, depending on CTE participation level, were working full time in 2012. Another eight to eleven percent of high school completers from 2004, either were working part time or unemployed.
Labor force participation rates (the total of working full-time,
part-time, or unemployed) were also high and consistent across
CTE fields of study. However, some groups were more likely than
others to have a particular employment status.
Ninety two percent of CTE concentrators in engineering technologies were working full-time. Fifty four percent of CTE concentrators in consumer and culinary services were working full-time.
Although results show that high school CTE concentrators have a nominally higher median income than nonparticipants, the differences are not statistically significant.
CTE concentrators have a median salary of twenty nine thousand dollars. Non-participants have a median salary of twenty six thousand dollars.
Twelve states or 24% of states had secondary consortia that included 1 to 40 percent of secondary grantees.
CTE concentrators who had earned an associate degree had a higher median annual income than nonparticipants with an associate degree.
CTE concentrators with an associate's degree have a median salary of thirty four thousand dollars. Non-participants with an associate's degree have a median salary of twenty two thousand dollars.

The Class of 2004 Versus the Class of 1992

The high school class of 2004, surveyed in 2012, was compared to the high school class of 1992, surveyed in 2000. These cohorts experienced
postsecondary life in the eight years after high school under very different economic circumstances.

Diploma Icon

When comparing the class of 2004
to the class of 1992, there are
no statistically significant differences in
labor force participation rates by CTE
participation level
or concentrator field
of study.

There are some differences in the percent working full
time and the percent unemployed.
In 2012 seventy seven percent of CTE concentrators were working full time. In 2000 eighty five percent of CTE concentrators were working full time.
Computer and information science concentrators were also less
likely to work full time in 2012 versus 2000. Computer and
information science concentrators were the only concentrators for
whom a significant difference was observed.
In 2012 seventy five percent of computer and information science concentrators were working full time.

of computer and information science concentrators were working full time.

In 2000 ninety nine percent of computer and information science concentrators were working full time.

of computer and information science concentrators were working full time.

Wages Icon

As with the class of 2004 in
2012, there were no differences
in median annual income or
median hourly wage by CTE
participation level
within the
class of 1992 in 2000.

Conclusions

The report finds that, despite differences in background and postsecondary education and training, high school CTE participants are remarkably similar to nonparticipants in their employment and earnings outcomes. There are no significant differences in employment status, experiences of unemployment, or annual earnings by level of CTE participation.

Download the Full Report
Back to Top