Careers in Building, Construction, and Development

High School CTE Prepares Students for Trade School to become an Architect, Construction Manager, Electrician, Plumber, HVAC Technician, or Interior Designer

The Architecture and Construction cluster focuses on the process of design, planning, management, and building.  Various fields of architecture include interior design and construction management.

Many certifications are available for high school CTE students including certification in Autodesk Certified Professional in AutoCAD, NCCER Carpentry and Construction, NCCER Electrical, NCCER HVAC, NCCER Masonry, Tradesman Plumber, or NCCER Pipefitter.  Students can begin a path to these careers in high school by shadowing an architect, interior designer, carpenter, electrician, plumber, or civil engineer, or they can intern at an architecture firm or construction company to get experience.

Architectural Design and Architect Careers

The Architectural Design CTE program explores the fields of engineering and designing structures.  CTE students may also learn how to collect and interpret geographic information, research maps, and design interior spaces.

An architect designs the interior and exteriors of buildings. Architects oversee all steps of a structure’s development.  They determine a project’s needs, estimate costs, create structural specifications, and manage construction. Architects have the responsibility to make sure a building is safe, functional, attractive, environmentally friendly, and in compliance with regulations.  Architects, who are assisted by architectural technologists and technicians, must be able to adapt plans as budgets, environmental factors, or clients’ wishes change. (Target Careers)

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual architect salary is $82,000. 

Students interested in becoming an architect should focus on math classes such as algebra, geometry, calculus, and trigonometry. The study of physics is also important, for understanding concepts such as force, tension, and compression. Students should also explore the arts, such as drawing, sculpting, painting, and photography which help students learn to visualize and conceptualize.   Many CTE classes introduce students to tools like 3d modeling software that they can use in future architecture classes and careers.

Architectural Technologists

Architectural technologists are responsible for making sure that the technical aspects of a design work correctly and comply with regulations. Architectural technologists are similar to civil engineers, and they can be hired to oversee a project from start to finish. (Target Careers)

Landscape Architects

According to the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), landscape architecture includes the planning, design, management, and nurturing of built and natural environments. Landscape architects aim to improve human and environmental health in our communities. A landscape architect plans and designs a variety of community environments such as parks, campuses, trails, residences, and other projects. 

Interior Designers

CTE Architectural Design courses in high school include focus on interior design.  Interior design curriculum addresses the psychological, sociological, and physiological needs of individuals by enhancing their living and working environments. Students learn skills of interior and exterior environments, furnishings, and construction.

Construction Management Careers

The Construction Management and Inspection CTE program teaches students to determine the cost and pricing bids for construction projects.  Students can also explore inspection engineering to determine structural soundness and compliance with building codes. 

A career as a construction project manager involves hands-on work as well as knowledge of construction project management software and leading a team of coworkers. A Construction Management degree program can prepare students for jobs as: construction managers, project managers, project engineers, construction consultants, and more.

U.S. News reports that the average residential and commercial construction management salary is around $95,000, making it an attractive career for CTE students.

Structural Engineer and Civil Engineer Careers

Structural engineers primarily design and construct buildings and structures.  They make sure that the structures are safe and capable of withstanding exposure to the elements.  Structural engineering professionals also work to improve structural integrity of existing buildings. They have exceptional knowledge of construction materials and methods, as well as legal regulations. (Target Jobs)

This is similar to the role of a civil engineer. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, civil engineers design, build, and supervise infrastructure projects and systems.

U.S. News reports that the average civil engineer salary is around $87,000, which is similar to a structural engineer salary. 

Both structural engineering jobs and civil engineering jobs deal with analysis, design, and construction. However, some differences set them apart. All structural engineers are civil engineers, but not all civil engineers are structural engineers.(Carroll Engineering Corporation)

Construction Organizations

Construction associations and groups of people within the construction industry are available for support, training, and networking.  

Associated Builders and Contractors help members win work and deliver safe, ethical, and profitable work for the betterment of the communities they represent.

The National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) assists in strengthening the success of women in the construction industry with professional development, education, public service, and community advocacy. 

Texas Builders Foundation, which is a part of the Texas Association of Builders, serves as a resource to students, citizens, and the construction industry to support Texas’ construction workforce.  They play a large part in facilitating charitable construction industry activities.

Carpenters and Carpentry Trade School

Carpenters construct, install, and repair structures made from wood or other materials like plastic, drywall, or fiberglass. Carpenters are skilled in various levels of construction, from building highways or bridges to kitchen cabinet installation. (Student

Public school students who wish to attend carpentry school can begin their carpentry pathway in CTE classes in high school.  They can learn the basics of construction and work towards a carpentry certification and/or an apprenticeship.  CTE  Carpentry programs focus on the education of constructing, installing, or repairing wooden structures such as frameworks, rafters, and stairways.

Electricians and Electrician Trade School

High school students who plan to attend electrician school can get a head start in CTE classes. Electrical Technology courses teach the knowledge and skills needed to become an electrician or pursue an electrical apprenticeship position. Students acquire an education in electrical safety, electrical theory, tools, electrical equipment installation, and reading of electrical drawings and specifications. (TX CTE)

Plumbers and Plumbing Trade School

The Plumbing and Pipefitting pathway of CTE’s Construction cluster explores the occupations and education related to installing or repairing pipes, fittings, or fixtures of water, heating, or drainage. CTE plumbing programs can include maintaining pipe supports or related hydraulic equipment for hot water, steam, cooling, heating, lubricating, and sprinkling.

Master Plumbers

The difference between a plumber and a master plumber is that a master plumber has more experience in plumbing, as well as familiarity with business management.  Other plumbers tend to have less experience and focus on the plumbing aspects of the job rather than the business.

To become a master plumber students receive extensive training and must pass a licensing and certification exam. This process takes 7-10 years. After high school, the first step is to attend a plumbing school, or vocational school for plumbing, to learn the technical aspect of plumbing. Upon completion of classroom learning, students begin an apprenticeship for 4-5 years as a paid learning opportunity working alongside an experienced plumber. Students can then apply for a license as a plumber or obtain a journeyman’s license and work another 4-5 years under the supervision of a master plumber. The final step is taking a certification test.

Houston Chronicle

According to U.S.News, the average plumber salary is around $55,000 annually, while a master plumber salary is higher at around $63,000.

Sheet Metal and HVAC Jobs

HVAC meaning: HVAC is an abbreviation for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. An HVAC technician is someone who installs, repairs, and maintains air conditioning,  heating, ventilation, and refrigeration systems.  HVAC technicians are trained in all three components, but they can choose to work with just one specialty. They may specialize in installation, repair, or maintenance, or  in a certain type of equipment, including water-based heating, solar technology, or commercial refrigeration.

The HVAC and sheet metal CTE program teaches students the skills to install, service, and repair heating and air conditioning systems. They can also learn the creation, installation, and repair of sheet metal products. Public school CTE students can work toward their HVAC certification while still in high school. Students can learn the skills needed to enter the HVAC industry as technicians, prepare for a degree in construction management, or pursue an apprenticeship.


The Masonry CTE pathway explores laying materials such as brick, tile, concrete, mortar, and the construction and repair of walls and structures using stone.

What is Masonry?

Masonry consists of building structures from single units that are laid and bound together with mortar. Brick, stone and concrete blocks are the most common materials used in masonry construction. Masonry work involves time, complete planning, and discussion. While it has its own share of disadvantages, it’s still considered the most reliable and durable method of construction. New York Engineers

SWISD CTE Construction Program


In the Southwest ISD Construction program, students receive hands-on experiences to explore many pathways and find the perfect fit for themselves. The CTE program helps students develop communication skills and teamwork skills while earning a certification in a related field. The students helped build several mini-libraries for Spicewood Elementary school and the surrounding community.

Explore regional CTE programs