Career Clusters: Forecasting Demand for High School Through College Jobs, 2008-2018

Publication November 2011

Career Clusters: Forecasting Demand for High School Through College Jobs, 2008-2018, a joint report co-authored by the NRCCTE in conjunction with the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce and NASDCTEc (now AdvanceCTE), identifies 16 career clusters that represent the full array of related occupational opportunities and education requirements. Findings show that for those with high school diplomas, decent jobs still exist but there are not enough to go around. Only one in three of high school-level jobs will pay wages of $35,000 or more; although in some cases, with experience, these jobs can provide up to $50,000.

High school-level jobs are found in four male dominated career clusters: manufacturing, construction, transportation, and hospitality. Of these four clusters, only jobs in manufacturing and construction still pay relatively good wages; particularly for those who obtain on-the-job-training. The study confirms that women need postsecondary education to earn the same wages as men with only a high school diploma. For instance, whereas a man can earn $35,000 with a high school diploma in the manufacturing career cluster, a woman must obtain a postsecondary credential and work in healthcare to earn as much.

In many industries, the overall number of jobs will decline through 2018 but there will still be job openings available due to retirement. For example, the study finds that there will be 181,000 fewer manufacturing jobs over the decade but there will be 3 million job openings in manufacturing by 2018.

Middle-skill jobs have promise for those who acquire some level of postsecondary education or training but not a Bachelor’s degree. For women, middle-skill jobs are the minimum threshold for a better career. One in two of these middle jobs provide career pathways leading to median wages of roughly $40,000. Such jobs are concentrated in six career clusters: manufacturing, marketing, transportation, healthcare, business and hospitality. The fastest growing career clusters for middle-skills are in healthcare (21%) and hospitality (12%).

Workers with Bachelor’s and graduate degrees have the most positive outlook. Five out of six jobs available for workers with Bachelor’s pay more than $35,000 a year and average $60,000. Seventy-two percent of jobs available for workers with a Bachelor’s degree or better are found in nine occupational clusters. Yet at this education level, all career clusters are essentially accessible.

Carnevale, A. P., Smith, N., Stone, J. R. III, Kotamraju, P., Steuernagel, B., & Green, K. (2011, November). Career clusters: Forecasting demand for high school through college jobs, 2008-2018. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

Download the report (PDF)

Download the state report (PDF)