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What is a career cluster?

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Quick Answer

A career cluster is a group of industries and career paths in those industries. They must be closely related to one another, either by skills or by the products. Each cluster has its own pathways that are focused on coursework and training opportunities.

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There are 16 different career clusters in the United States as of December 2014. These clusters were established by the States' Career Clusters Initiative. They are generally recognized by community colleges and in the workplace. The 16 clusters star with agriculture, food and natural resources; architecture and construction; arts, audio/visual technology and communications; business management and administration; and education and training. Finance, government and public administration, and health sciences are also considered career clusters.

Other examples of career clusters in the United States include hospitality and tourism; human services; information technology; the legal field including law, public safety, corrections and security; and manufacturing. Marketing is another career cluster, as is transportation, distribution and logistics. The final career cluster is science, technology, engineering and mathematics, which is also known as STEM.

The pathways in a career cluster are designed to teach students and employees the necessary skills for a specific career. There are more than 70 different career pathways, and more than 1,000 different career paths.

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