PCC’s CTE: Jobs. Occupations. Careers.

Pam Sornson, JD

April 5, 2022

California’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs provide clearly marked pathways to well-paying jobs and careers. Unfortunately, that reality is often lost in the messaging around higher education in general, which still (erroneously) emphasizes a four-year university degree as every college student’s ultimate goal. Pasadena City College (PCC) offers its students a wide variety of CTE courses and programs that can guide them through to the occupation and lifestyle of their choice. They just need to know what their options are.



CTE is Critical to California’s Success

The COVID-19 pandemic revealed two significant factors: the State’s reliance on its middle-skilled workers and its economic challenges when there aren’t enough of those to fill all of its open job positions. Current State investments and initiatives are addressing those challenges. In his 2022-2023 budget proposal, Governor Gavin Newsom set a goal of 70% certificate and degree attainment for all working-age students by 2030, and two-thirds of those graduates will be community college students. The State also recently invested in its eight regional community college consortia groups (the Los Angeles County Regional Consortium [LARC] is one), expecting that those collaborations will result in a more robust workforce to repair the State’s economy. His strategy to achieve that repair is investing significant state funding into community college and CTE success.


California’s CTE Program is Critical to Student Success

The State has organized its CTE training programs to encompass 15 industry sectors with 58 specified career pathways, most of which straddle both its high school and community college curricula. This collaboration between government, education, and industry is foundational to the State’s economic and industrial growth and policy development strategies.

Data suggest that early and sustained focus on CTE goals is successful on many levels:

‘High-risk’ CTE students, those who face added barriers in their personal lives, are eight to ten times less likely to drop out of their junior or senior years than those who don’t enroll in CTE options.

Eighty percent of high school CTE students met their college and career readiness goals, versus 63% of those who only pursued college prep programs.

Those learners who blended their career and academic education in high school are also more likely to pursue post-secondary education, earn a higher college GPA, and persist through to a certificate or degree.

Most importantly, more than one-quarter (27%) of community college CTE degree or certificate holders earn more than an average four-year degree recipient.

California is betting its future on the success of its CTE programs and the success of those graduates.


PCC’s Constellation of CTE Excellence

PCC provides 86 associate degrees and certification programs embedded within its six Career CommunitiesBusiness & IndustrySTEM studiesHealth Science and WellnessLiberal ArtsSocial and Behavioral Science, and Arts and Communications. This array of occupationally focused training programs provides skills, experience, and insights into jobs and careers that pay well and will be in demand for years to come. 

Study areas straddle both industry and ‘economy’ occupations, offering skills training focused directly on industry standards and courses on careers that apply in almost every business regardless of its industry. 

Certificates of Achievements

These foundational training courses provide the instruction needed to enter an occupation right out of school or, when combined with General Education credits, form the basis of an Associate Degree. Program subject matters straddle industries with high demand for qualified workers; a shortlist includes:

Automotive Technology,

Biology, including lab skills,

Business Administration,

Child Development,

Electrical Technology


Medical Assisting,


Paralegal Studies,

Television and Radio Technologies, and more.

Students pursuing these accreditations are likely to find well-paying jobs and careers in the future. 

Occupational Skills Certificates

These certifications aim their training at specific jobs and work skills. Their instruction prepares learners with both employability and workplace skills for the occupation of their choice, which also lays the groundwork for future work within the same field. 

Examples of Occupational Skills Certificates offered at PCC include:

Archeological Field Work,

Automotive Specialties, including Heating and Air Conditioning Technician, 

Certified Nursing Assistant,

Commercial Music, which encompasses music recording and production skills, 

Digitation Skills for Libraries and Cultural Heritage Institutions, which teaches digital and collection techniques for use in current facilities or archives,

Graphic Communications,

Interior Design, Industrial Design, 


Television and Radio, including broadcast journalism, television production, and video operations.    

Notably, many of these programs are and will be increasingly technology-driven, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic passes. Automation, the Internet of Things (IOT), Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, and Big Data Analytics are generating changes in almost all areas of industry and economics. As a result, tomorrow’s workforce will need to be ready to adapt existing skills to meet these emerging skill demands. By doing so, they will not only harness a job and career that will provide them with a comfortable life, but they will also be feeding California’s economic and industrial engines to provide a better and higher standard of living for all residents of the State.     


California is clearly invested in leveraging the wealth of knowledge and experience contained in its community college system to build its economy. Those colleges and the communities in which they live are equally invested in providing an education for their students that sustains a productive and financially stable life. PCC is invested in offering its constituents the highest-quality CTE training available and whatever support they might need to succeed.





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