Career and Technical Education Giving CCA Students a Head Start on Great Careers

The Community College of Aurora (CCA) is a leader in preparing students for life after college, with training in real life careers in technical fields. Career and Technical education (CTE) programming greatly increases the probability of swift social and economic mobility outcomes for students at CCA.

According to the Colorado Department of Education, CTE’s primary goal is to produce educational programs that focus on developing technical skills and preparing students for purposeful careers. 

“U.S. News & World Report identified the Denver metro area as the “hottest market” in the country,” said Dr. Jim DeLung, Dean of Academic Success at CCA. “Our students are coming to CCA to upskill and to achieve economic mobility. There are great work-based learning opportunities we provide CTE students with at CCA. My favorite aspect of CTE programming is how quickly we can pivot to meet workforce needs. CTE programming is centered in teaching durable skills and offering stackable credentials. We’ve been doing this work for a long time, so it’s not hard to figure out why CTE is good for pivoting to meet workforce needs.” 

At CCA, students can use a maximum of 45 certificate credits from a CCCS-approved CTE program toward the Applied Technology degree. CCA has a variety of technical programs in the trades including Diesel Power Mechanics, Construction Superintendent, HVAC/R Technician, Law Enforcement, and more. 

CTE graduates are vital to the safety of Colorado and economic health of the state. According to the state’s Department of Education, 23% of CTE careers for the 2021-22 school year were in the life sciences, with many students studying to be a registered nurse. Architecture and construction, business management and administration, and information technology are among the most enrolled careers for CTE students. 

“It’s hard to overstate the importance of the CTE programming we offer here at CCA,” said Mason Jenkins, Assistant Director of Special Populations. “Our programming stands out because we take so much intentional effort to ensure that the programs we offer not


only align with the local labor market needs, but that you have to learn how the job is done today so that you’re ready to transition seamlessly into your career after graduation. In our health-based CTE opportunities, we partner with local employers so students can learn how it’s done from the folks who do it every day.” 

CTE graduates can vastly improve their economic mobility while working in a prized career. Workers in fire protection are estimated to make $76,400 within five years of graduation; nurses make $61,700 in that same timespan. Workers in computer and information science, construction trades, and criminal justice can make $50,000 to $58,000 within five years of graduation.  

“To sustain the talent needs of Colorado businesses, more learners and workers must have the opportunity to develop skills and earn credentials or degrees,” the Colorado Association for Careers and Technical Education said in a release. “CTE programming plays a large role in the development and implementation of targeted up-skilling programs that are increasingly vital to align Colorado’s workforce needs with in-demand industry sectors and occupations while closing the Job Skills Gap.”  

CTE is for more than college students too. During the 2021-22 academic year, the Colorado Department of Education reports a total of 135,810 high school students were enrolled in 1,471 CTE-related programs across 339 schools and 161 districts. Of the high school students enrolled in CTE programs, 42% were minority, 45% were female, 26% were economically disadvantaged, and 14% had disabilities. 

“Annually, we bring in local employers, community partners, and stakeholders to ask what they need us to teach our students so they are successful when they graduate and start applying for jobs,” Jenkins said. “We base so many of our decisions on data and opportunities like this because we realize that the CTE world moves fast and we want our students to be at the front of the pack when it comes to landing jobs after they spend time learning with us at CCA.”  

To learn more about CCA’s technical programs, call 303-360-4700 or visit 

Photos by: Dept. of Strategic Communications