Education System

Career Education

What is the purpose of career education?

Career education includes exploratory courses at the elementary and secondary levels designed to give students initial exposure to a broad range of occupations to assist them in preparing their academic and occupational plans, as well as practical arts courses that provide generic skills that may apply to many occupations but are not designed to prepare students for entry into a specific occupation.
At the secondary school level, career education includes job-preparatory instruction in the competencies that prepare students for effective entry into postsecondary education or an occupation, including diversified cooperative education, work experience, and job-entry programs that coordinate directed study and on-the-job training. The Department of Education maintains standard curriculum frameworks for career courses and programs, organized into 17 career clusters.

What are career and professional academies and career-themed courses?

Section 1003.493, Florida Statutes, defines career and professional academies (academies) and career-themed courses.
  • Career and professional academies are research-based programs that integrate a rigorous academic curriculum with an industry-specific curriculum aligned directly to priority workforce needs. Students completing career and professional academies must receive a standard high school diploma, the highest available industry certification, and opportunities to earn postsecondary credit if the academy partners with a postsecondary institution approved to operate in the state. In 2019-20, there were 1,706 high school and 301 middle school academies representing 51 districts.
  • Career-themed courses are courses, or a course in a series of courses, that lead to an industry certification. Career-themed courses have industry-specific curricula aligned directly to priority workforce needs. Students completing a career-themed course must be provided opportunities to earn postsecondary credit if the credit for the career-themed course can be articulated to a postsecondary institution approved to operate in the state. In 2019-20 Florida's 67 school districts offered a total of 1,158 unique registered career-themed courses.  

 The Department of Education maintains a list of all registered academies and career-themed courses on its website.

How do students receive industry certification?

To provide opportunities for industry certification, secondary schools offering career-themed courses and career and professional academies coordinate with relevant and appropriate industries to prepare students for further education or for employment in that industry. An independent, third-party certifying entity evaluates student assessment results using predetermined standards for knowledge, skills, and competencies, resulting in an award of a credential that is nationally recognized and must be at least one of the following: within a critical need industry, linked to one of the workforce system's targeted occupations, or linked to an emerging occupation. Section 1011.62(1)(o), Florida Statutes, outlines the industry certification process and provides that when a high school student in a registered career-themed course earns a department-approved industry certification, the district is awarded additional full-time equivalent membership funding and teachers providing instruction are awarded incentive funds.  In 2019-20, 74,295 students earned 88,756 certifications with a passing rate of 70.1%.

The Florida Department of Education's Division of Career and Adult Education maintains a database on all approved industry certifications.

What are CAPE Innovation Courses?

CAPE (Career and Professional Education) Innovation Courses combine academic and career content with performance expectations that result in students attaining both college credit and industry certification. These courses must have at least two third-party assessments, one of which must be a fundable CAPE industry certification exam. The courses are AP Microeconomics Innovation, AP English Language and Composition Innovation, AP Studio Art 2-D Design Portfolio Innovation, and AP Computer Science A Innovation.

What are CAPE Digital Tool Certificates?

CAPE Digital Tool Certificates validate students' digital skills and are available to elementary and middle school students. Each earned certificate results in 0.025 FTE in the funding formula. In the 2019-20 school year, 33,196 students earned 49,926 digital tools certifications with a passing rate of 67.1%. For the 2020-21 school year, the Florida Department of Education identified 26 CAPE Digital Tool Certificates.

How does the department follow up on graduates of secondary vocational programs?

Post-graduation employment and continuing education data are calculated for secondary career and technical education programs and published annually by the Florida Education and Training Placement Information Program (FETPIP).


Identification and Valuation of CAPE Industry Certifications.  The 2021 Legislature enacted Chapter 2021-164, Laws of Florida, which modifies how CAPE industry certifications will be identified. The law requires the CareerSource state board to appoint a Credentials Review Committee to identify credentials of value including industry certifications for inclusion in a Master Credentials List. Beginning with the 2022-2023 school year, the law requires the CareerSource state board to produce and submit a Master Credentials List to the State Board of Education. The list must, at a minimum, identify non-degree credentials and degree programs determined to be of value for CAPE Industry Certification funding; if the credential or degree program meets statewide, regional, or local level demand; the type of certificate, credential, or degree; and the primary standard occupation classification code. The Master Credentials List shall be used by the State Board to establish the CAPE Industry Certification Funding List beginning with the 2022-2023 school year. For the 2021-2022 school year the State Board will continue to use the certifications identified in the CAPE Industry Certification Funding List and the CAPE Postsecondary Industry Certification Funding List adopted by the State Board before October 1, 2021.

The law also requires the Commissioner of Education to conduct a review of the methodology used to determine additional FTE membership weights assigned to CAPE programs and, if necessary, recommend revised weights. The weights must factor in prioritization of critical shortages of labor market demand and middle-level to high-level wage earning outcomes as identified by the Credentials Review Committee. The law requires the results of the review and the commissioner's recommendations to be submitted to the Governor and the Legislature no later than December 1, 2021.

Where can I find related OPPAGA reports?

Florida College System Industry Certifications, Report 19-10, October 2019
School District Postsecondary Industry Certifications, Report 19-09, October 2019

Where can I get more information?

What are the applicable statutes?

Sections 1003.491, 1003.492, 1003.493, 1003.4935, 1008.41, 1011.62, and 1003.01, Florida Statutes.

Whom do I contact for help?

Chancellor Henry Mack, Career and Adult Education, 850-245-0446, email: