There are two meanings usually associated with the term “Career pathways.” The first meaning refers to the “educational experience” – that is, the courses and associated work-based learning experiences that prepare a student for entry into a particular career.
The second meaning of career pathway focuses on the “occupational experience” of the individual – the “path” of different jobs they take as they move into and advance into a career area.
For many of us, our personal career path may seem messy and random, but for many careers, when we step back and do a broad analysis, you can start to see some clear patterns emerge.
This mapping of career pathways is really important work to helping students make more informed decisions, and an excellent example of mapping is happening in Colorado. Responding to state legislative direction, over the last several years, several state agencies have been collaborating to map out high-value career fields in Colorado. The results of their work is presented through the website, www.CareersInColorado.org.
To date, they have mapped out careers in four industry sectors – Advanced Manufacturing, Construction, Healthcare and Information Technology.
Within the Information Technology sector, for example, they have identified five career pathways: Administrator, Cyber Security, Developer, Computer User Support, and Systems Engineering.
Then, within each career pathway, they’ve mapped out a typical sequence of job positions that would lead to higher levels of responsibility and earnings, and they have mapped out that career path as it exists in each of the identified regions of the state. Even within a single pathway, you will notice there may be more than one divergent entry-level and mid-level path a worker can take, and then those paths re-converge at the more advanced level of the career pathway.
To show you how it works, here’s a screen shot of the Systems & Engineering pathway.
This is really great work which helps to de-mystify the way people enter and advance through career paths. It can be an excellent tool for helping students to gain deeper understanding about an industry sector that they are interested in.
While the information on the site is customized for Colorado, I suspect much of the information would be useful to helping any student better understand what they might experience in a pathway. Hope it helps!
Hans Meeder is President of NC3T, the National Center for College and Career Transitions (www.nc3t.com). NC3T provides planning, coaching, technical assistance and tools to help community-based leadership teams plan and implement their college-career pathway systems and strengthen employer connections with education.