Every CTE Program of Study offered through DC CTE provides students real-world experiences that lead to the opportunity to earn an in-demand Industry Recognized Credential (IRC). IRCs are the demonstration of knowledge and skills learned throughout a student’s time in their chosen CTE program of study and the beginning of a lifelong career of achievement in the student’s chosen field. Students who earn one or more IRC in high school have more job prospects, increased marketability to employers, and many postsecondary schools translate IRCs to college credit—which saves students time and money—all by the time they graduate high school!

DC CTE currently offers 60 Industry Recognized Credentials for high school students that…

  • are student-focused.
  • are widely recognized by business and industry and appear in a substantial number of job postings for relevant occupations.
  • support students to advance in their career and financially.
  • are stackable — which means there are levels to credentialing and achievement.

How Do I Obtain an IRC in High School?

District-area students entering 9th grade through the age of 24 registered in a state approved CTE program can earn Industry Recognized Credentials (IRCs) thanks to our partner, the University of DC Community College. Based on the Program of Study the student is enrolled in, they will be prepared for the relevant IRC offered with the program throughout their course work. Cost of taking certification exams will be covered by OSSE and/or the student’s school.

Read about the Programs of Study you are most interested in to learn which credentials are available for you to earn.

One of the major benefits of IRCs is that many of them are “stackable,” meaning that students can build upon their knowledge and skills by earning multiple credentials in a particular pathway. For instance, in the healthcare industry, you can earn a certified nursing assistant (CNA) credential and then move on to earn a licensed practical nursing (LPN) or a registered nursing (RN) credential. This stacking of credentials helps students advance in their careers more quickly and employers in many industries are willing to pay a premium for professionals with multiple credentials in their respective pathway. If you have questions about stackable credentials, reach out to Tanya Whitaker, tanya.whitaker@dc.gov.

Why Are IRCs Important?

Industry Recognized Credentials (IRCs) are a valuable tool that help students enhance their career prospects. These credentials are important for several reasons. First, they validate an individual’s knowledge, skills, and abilities in a particular industry or profession. Second, they provide a benchmark for employers to evaluate the qualifications of job applicants, making it easier for them to identify individuals who possess the necessary expertise and experience for a given position. Third, possessing an IRC can increase an individual’s earning potential and career advancement opportunities. Many employers value these credentials and may offer higher salaries or promotions to employees who hold them. Fourth, IRCs help individuals stay current with industry trends and best practices, ensuring that they are equipped to provide high-quality services and products to clients and customers.

Help Your Students Get Ahead

CTE educators and counselors play a key role in helping students understand their career preparation options in middle and high school. Reach out to your school/district’s CTE Director for outreach materials, professional development opportunities, and more information on the IRC’s currently offered at your school.

If you’d like to bring pathways to Industry Recognized Credentials to your school, contact Tanya Whitaker, tanya.whitaker@dc.gov.

Community Input

Local community and industry partners help DC CTE understand the demand and viability of the Industry Recognized Credentials we offer. We regularly consult the community through round table conversations as credentials are being considered to be added to our programs. Reach ouyt to reach out to Tanya Whitaker, tanya.whitaker@dc.gov to get involved.