What Is a Career Cluster

What Is a Career Cluster?

A career cluster is a collection of jobs that share similar characteristics, such as their industry or objectives. Looking at particular career clusters can help job seekers to find professions that are best suited to their individual interests, skills, or qualifications.

There are around 16 main career clusters and this article will outline the professions that fall into each cluster. Knowing which professions are contained within each cluster will help you to narrow your job search and find the career path to which you will be best suited.

What Are the Main Career Clusters?

1. Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources

This cluster contains jobs that involve work with animals, plants, and the land. Much of the work within this category is done outdoors, as with horticulturists and landscape gardeners. However, this cluster also contains professions involving laboratory research, natural science, chemists, physicists, and biologists.

For many of these jobs, you will require a high school diploma or its equivalent, as well as some additional training or a degree where appropriate. An individual who enjoys working outside would be most suited to this cluster.

Jobs in this cluster include:

  • Agriculture worker
  • Horticulturist
  • Conservationist
  • Natural science manager

2. Architecture and Construction

Jobs in this cluster involve designing, building, and the infrastructure of homes, offices, and roads. A career in this cluster could involve you working on construction sites or architectural design in an office.

For many of these jobs, you will require a high school diploma as well as some vocational training. Architectural positions may require a degree qualification or higher. If you are somebody who enjoys building things with your hands or you have a flair for creative design, then a career within this cluster may appeal to you.

Jobs in this cluster include:

  • Construction laborer
  • Electrician
  • Roofer
  • Civil Engineer
  • Architect

3. Arts, Technology, and Communication

This cluster involves careers that are creative by nature. Jobs such as acting, writing, or working within the film production industry will fall under this category. There is a diverse range of occupations within this cluster ranging from outdoor film shoots to solitary writing positions.

For a job within this cluster, you are likely to need a bachelor’s degree. However, there may be opportunities for you to top up your high school degree with some additional on-the-job training. These professions will be ideal if you are of a creative nature and enjoy turning abstract ideas into concrete outcomes.

Jobs in this cluster include:

  • Graphic designer
  • Reporter
  • Telecoms repair
  • Photographer
  • Art director

4. Business Management and Admin

Jobs within this cluster will be focused on the planning, organization, and running of a business where you would be expected to collaborate with others in an office environment. If you enjoy working as part of a team and are adept at analyzing and problem-solving, then you may be well suited to a career such as this.

For high-ranking jobs within this cluster, it may be necessary to have many years of experience as in the case of CEO positions. Many of the jobs will require you to have at least a high school degree and further on-the-job training.

Jobs in this cluster include:

  • Receptionist
  • Clerk
  • Operation manager
  • CEO
  • Entrepreneur

5. Education and Training

Male Teacher Teaching Students

Jobs within this category will include teaching in schools, libraries, and museums which will mean collaborative working, usually indoors. Good communication skills, sensitivity, and an understanding of the needs of others will be vital skills for a role within this cluster.

Almost every job in this cluster will require you to have a bachelor’s degree or higher. You will need to enjoy learning and sharing your learning with others to help them progress.

Jobs in this cluster include:

  • Counselor
  • Librarian
  • Teacher
  • Professor

6. Finance

As its name suggests, jobs in this cluster are focused on dealing with money and financial planning. You would need to be willing to work indoors in an office environment and be competent with facts and figures.

In most cases, you will need a bachelor’s degree, although there may be cases when you could secure a position with a high school diploma and some in-house training.

If numbers, spreadsheets, and facts and figures are your forte, then a job within this cluster could be perfect for you.

Jobs in this cluster include:

  • Bank teller
  • Accountant
  • Financial Advisor
  • Loan Officer
  • Debt collector

7. Government and Public Administration

Government structures, the military, political bodies, and courts all fall under the heading of this cluster. Jobs may vary greatly from one workplace to another, although they all focus on organizational structures that serve the public in one way or another.

You will need to be able to work in a very structured environment and be committed to public services and projects. You will have a high school diploma and be willing to undertake additional training. For some roles, you may need a bachelor’s degree or higher education.

Jobs in this cluster include:

  • Soldier
  • Court Clerk
  • Tax officer
  • Urban planner
  • Legislator

8. Health Science

Group Of Doctors

Do you enjoy helping others and solving problems? If so, then a career within the health science cluster could be just right for you. Jobs in this sector range from vets and doctors to nurses and physicians. Additional jobs, such as working in care homes, also fall under this heading.

Depending on the level of the job that you choose in this cluster, you will need anything from a high school to a bachelor’s degree or higher. You are likely to need additional training as well as your qualifications.

Jobs in this cluster include:

  • Physical therapist
  • Vet
  • Surgeon
  • Home health worker
  • Nurse

9. Hospitality and Tourism

There are a whole range of working environments within this cluster and these include anything from restaurants and travel agents to hotels and guest houses. You’ll need good customer service skills and the ability to work in often hectic environments.

For many of these jobs, you’ll need a high school diploma as well as vocational training such as a hospitality management program or a culinary school.

Jobs in this cluster include:

  • Chef
  • Hotel manager
  • Waiter/Waitress
  • Janitor

10. Human Services

In these jobs, you’ll be working to meet the physical, psychological, social, and emotional needs of others. You’ll need to have an empathetic personality and a willingness to help others and could be working in a range of environments from the elderly in their own homes to daycare centers or professional therapy offices.

You’ll need qualifications from a high school diploma to a professional degree, depending on which discipline you choose. You are likely to need additional years of on-the-job training too.

Jobs in this cluster include:

  • Daycare provider
  • Therapist
  • Social worker
  • Hairdresser

11. Information Technology

Young Boy wearing blue working on laptop

You’ll need to possess a keen interest in technology and computers and enjoy solving technical problems to work in this sector. There are many opportunities within this cluster but mainly involving the design, repair, and maintenance of computer hardware, software, and networks.

Jobs will be mainly office based and you should be able to deal with problems methodically and calmly. You will most likely need a relevant bachelor’s degree as well as additional appropriate training.

Jobs in this sector include:

  • Computer programmer
  • Computer engineer
  • Database manager
  • Systems analyst
  • IT support specialist

12. Law, Public Safety, Security, and Corrections

Jobs in this cluster are focused on supporting the legal system and enforcing the law. You must be prepared to take on the challenges of situations that could be dangerous such as crime scenes and investigations, if you choose that particular path, or perhaps you would prepare to work in the less risky environment of a courtroom or legal office.

You will need to be able to keep a clear head in stressful situations and have a willingness to learn and understand the legal system. You will need a high school diploma but may need to gain additional qualifications in the form of a bachelor’s degree or even a Ph.D. in some cases.

Jobs in this cluster include:

  • Police officer
  • Lawyer
  • Judge
  • Security guard

13. Manufacturing

Manufacturing is the production of physical goods and can include anything from food to cars. Much of this production occurs in factories and is performed by a combination of machines and human hands. You’ll need to enjoy physical work and working with your hands as well as be able to participate as part of a team.

Many of these jobs require a high school diploma along with some in-house training.

Jobs in this cluster include:

  • Mechanic
  • Assembler
  • Safety coordinator
  • Welder

14. Marketing

Marketing Jobs

Marketing is the process of promoting goods and services in order to reach business goals and objectives. As a marketer, you may perform your job in an office or in face-to-face situations with the customer.

You will need to be outgoing and able to persuade and deliver a message, spreading the word to your business clients. You will need at least a high school diploma, but in many cases, you may need a bachelor’s degree and relevant experience.

Jobs in this cluster include:

  • Sales
  • Public relations
  • Copywriting
  • Digital Marketing
  • Marketing Manager

15. STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

Jobs in this cluster are likely to involve the support of research in the natural and applied sciences, along with development and planning. Much of the work will be carried out in laboratories and academic institutions.

You’ll need to enjoy learning, taking part in research, and using and analyzing data to understand and solve often complex problems. For most jobs in this cluster, you will need a bachelor’s degree or higher such as a Ph.D.

Jobs in this cluster include:

  • Biologist
  • Data scientist
  • Aerospace or mechanical engineer
  • Environmental scientist

16. Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics

Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics Jobs

Logistics applies to the movement of people and goods from one location to another by transportation, be it a truck, plane, or train. In this profession, you will either be constantly moving from one place to another, or you will be in an office coordinating delivery routes and drops.

If you enjoy the variety of travel and have an interest in vehicles then this could be the career for you. You’ll need a high school diploma and further on-the-job training. For some positions, you might need a bachelor’s degree and of course the relevant licenses for driving. Airline pilots will also need years of experience.

Jobs in this cluster include:

  • Lorry driver
  • Dispatcher
  • Delivery driver
  • Pilot
  • Train Operator/conductor

In summary, whichever profession you choose, the more your chosen job aligns with your individual strengths, skills, and interests, the more likely you are to have a fulfilling, rewarding and enjoyable career.

Written by Karen Stanley

​​Karen is a former teacher of 20 years and ten times published author. She writes content for educational organizations and businesses, nationally and internationally. She coaches new and budding writers through to publication and is passionate about creativity; she runs creative writing workshops in schools and fostering agencies.