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Career & Technical Education (CTE)

The Career and Technical Education program connects careers with education. CTE broadly encompasses six service areas: agriculture, food and natural resources; applied sciences, technology, engineering, and manufacturing; business, finance, marketing and management; health science; human services; and information solutions.

Program Overview

Career and Technical Education (CTE) in Iowa includes educational programs offering a sequence of courses that prepare individuals for employment in current or emerging occupations. Programs include competency-based applied learning, which contributes to an individual’s academic knowledge, higher-order reasoning and problem-solving skills, work attitudes, general employability skills, and occupational-specific skills.


Service Areas:

  • Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources
  • Arts, Communications, and Information Systems
  • Applied Sciences, Technology, Engineering, and Manufacturing (including transportation, distribution, logistics, architecture, and construction)
  • Business, Finance, Marketing, and Management
  • Health Sciences
  • Human Services

State law requires schools to offer 4 of the 6 service areas to their students under Chapter 12 “offer and teach” requirements.

There are 3 units of instruction required for each program of study. One unit of instruction may be shared between programs.

Teachers must have a CTE endorsement in the area they are teaching.

If your district is adding a new CTE program offering, please contact Chris Dicus at Northwest AEA.

Resources by Program

Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources

Arts, Communications, and Information Systems


Applied Sciences, Technology, Engineering, and Manufacturing


Business, Finance, Marketing, and Management

Iowa Standards are aligned to the national standards by MBA research. Below are a few resources to check out:

State's Connection (free with valid Iowa education email) is a space for instructional materials and resources to support educators and their program development. There are also a variety of supports for CTSO integration:

Health Sciences


Human Services (Family and Consumer Science)


Universal CTE Resources

Program Review

Program Approval is completed on a five year rotating basis in Region 4 and 12. The schedule for Program Reviews requiring the completion of Self-Studies is below:

2023-24 2024-25 2025-26 2026-27 2027-28
Agriculture Applied STEM

Industrial Tech

Human Services


Business, Finance, Marketing, and Management


Arts, Communications, and Information Systems

Health Sciences


Law, Public Safety, Corrections, and Security

Timeline for Program Review Completion:

1. AEA Workshop: Program of Study Launch Workshop and Collaboration (September)

2. Submission to the RPP Program Review Team (October)

3. Approve the Program of Studies to be submitted to the Department of Education (December)

4. RPP Coordinator submits the region's programs for review


CTE Model Programs

The Iowa Department of Education’s Career and Technical Education Bureau developed these specific model programs as a starting point for school districts, new teachers and other educational stakeholders to view program examples that may serve as guideposts for new program implementation with fidelity.

These model programs are not to take the place of high achieving CTE programming that is in compliance with current state and federal operation requirements, but rather to be best utilized by districts looking to create additional pathways or make updates to existing ones. Model programs may also be helpful to advisory committees when looking to make suggestions to course alignment.

The Iowa CTE model programs include foundational CTE courses, pathway specific example courses, and post secondary community college courses for a complete roadmap to program success. Also embedded into these model program documents are examples of aligned career and technical student organization activities and work based learning experiences.

Please remember that these model programs are to be used as guideposts only. Please continue to analyze labor market data and solicit feedback from advisory committees, as well as other stakeholders on a local level to determine need and program specific coursework.

Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSO)

Work-Based Learning

Work-based Learning is now one of the performance measures our CTE programs are accountable for under Perkins V.  It is an essential component in the 21st century classroom. It provides real-world, hands-on work to students and supports the relevance of classroom lessons. Work-based learning not only enables students to explore and engage with various careers, it teaches them the all-important professional skills needed by industry.

SCED Codes for Perkins V: Work-Based Learning

Getting Started with Work-Based Learning

The suggestions listed below are intended to provide ideas for districts wanting to get started in WBL. It is not intended to suggest that a district must do all of the things listed.

  1. Maximize student Individual Career and Academic Plan (ICAP) in your district
  2. Connect with your Intermediary for work-based learning activities in your region
  3. Take advantage of the free, on-demand career videos to enhance classroom learning. All of the career videos are connected to career and technical education standards
  4. Consider who will coordinate work-based learning activities at your school
  5. Connect your teachers to authentic projects through the Clearinghouse for Work-Based Learning
  6. Review the Iowa Work-Based Learning Guide
  7. Start an apprenticeship program at your school

Registered Apprenticeship Playbook - A guide to understanding the different components of apprenticeship programs.

Earn and Learn Iowa Website - Provides information on how to start an apprenticeship program.

High School Internships

Internships provide students with a hands-on opportunity to develop career and professional skills with an industry partner in a workplace setting.

  • Iowa Internship Toolkit - Highlights key components of a high-quality internship program to prepare students for success in postsecondary education, training and careers.
  • High School Internship Guidance - Provides information on designing various types of internship opportunities and support for students participating in internships.
  • Sample Training Plan - A template that can be used as an evaluation tool for an internship program.
  • Sample Training Agreement - An example of a contract to be signed before a student participates in an internship.
  • Multioccupations Endorsement - An endorsement designed for those who supervise students in on-the-job situations such as cooperative education programs and school-to-work programs.

For the most recent and up-to-date information from the Iowa Department of Education website.

CTE State and National Organizations

Perkins and RPP Grant Resources

Perkins V Grant Information

Advisory councils provide meaningful feedback to educators on the design, implementation, evaluation, maintenance, and revision of program curriculum and training equipment.

Advisory Council Guide

Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment

Perkins V introduced the requirement for districts and consortiums to complete a Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment (CLNA) every two years.

They are linked here for your review: RPP 4 RPP 12

Additional Perkins V Resources

  • Secondary Iowa Perkins V Performance Indicators Handout.pdf
  • Allowable and Unallowable Costs
  • Middle School Requirements
  • Perkins Equipment Disposition Form

Regional Planning Partnerships (RPP)



Additional Resources

Below are some resources provided by the Department of Education to assist with this process:

  • Secondary Career and Technical Education Program Self-Study Template
  • Program Self-Study Regional Planning Partnership Supplemental Materials
  • CTE Shared Programs Memo
  • Self-Study Best Practices


Important contacts

Staff Directory
Image thumbnail for Christine Dicus

Christine Dicus

Educational Consultant

712-222-6049 Email Christine Dicus