Career Education FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions - General


What is Career Education?

Career Education is learning with relevance to the real world, often called contextual learning. Students can explore career interests while learning job-related skills and workplace ethics. It also empowers students to think creatively to solve problems using the latest technology. Not only for the average college age student, you can start as early as high school or develop a second career later in life. Even if you never attended college before you can earn a degree that leads to a new career.

What is an Associate Degree?

An associate degree is a two-year college diploma in either Arts (A.A.) or Science (A.S.) that recognizes completion of a program. With additional coursework, students may also prepare for transfer to a four-year college or university.

SDCCD awards students an associate degree in recognition of the student's completion of 60 units of college course credit that include the completion of:

  • The program major requirements: the specific courses in the program's topic area
  • District requirements: Students must complete courses that demonstrate competence in math and reading/written expression, at least two courses in American Institutions/California Government, a course in multicultural students, a health education course, and two physical education courses.
  • General Education requirements: The State of California requires that students complete at least 18 units of general education to ensure that students gain a broad education in the areas of critical thinking, writing, oral communication, quantitative analysis, and awareness of arts, humanities and the physical, social and behavioral sciences. Students must take a course in each of the following areas: English Composition, Communications/Analytical Thinking, the Sciences (Life or Physical), Humanities, and Social Sciences. A sixth general education course must be selected from any area.

What is a Certificate of Achievement?

Certificate of Achievement programs are designed for students with specific personal and occupational goals, and provide much more extensive training for an occupation. Certificate of Achievement program require students to complete at least 18 hours of college credit in an identified sequence of courses. Many programs require considerably more than 18 units of college credit to earn the Certificate of Achievement and are approximately equivalent to the courses in the major for many Associate Degree programs.

What is a Certificate of Performance?

Certificates of Completion are the shortest awards offered. They recognize the attainment of knowledge and/or skills through the successful completion of two or more courses (6 or more course units) in a specific occupational program. Certificates of Completion are designed to prepare students for employment, job enhancement and/or job advancement.

How Long Does It Take to Complete a Certificate or Associate Degree?

It depends. Every student's needs and situation are different. Students enrolled in fewer than 12 course units per semester are considered part-time students. Those students enrolled in 12 or more course units are considered full-time students.

On average, full-time students can expect to complete a certificate in two to three semesters and an associate degree in four to five semesters. Part-time students usually take longer to complete both certificate and associate degrees.


A planned process for linking two secondary and post-secondary education systems. A formal articulation agreement is developed and specifies student learning outcomes based on the knowledge, skills, and abilities required for students to earn college credit through successful completion of the high school course or program.

Career Pathway

A grouping of occupations that include sequences of courses to prepare individuals with the technical knowledge and skills needed to prepare for further education and/or current and emerging careers. Some of the career areas that students may enter through career education include:

  • Agriculture (farmers, animal scientists, turf grass specialists);
  • Trade and Industrial (automotive technicians, carpenters, electricians);
  • Business and Marketing (entrepreneurs, financial officers, arts/graphics designers);
  • Family and Consumer Sciences (management and life skills, executive chefs, hotel managers);
  • Health Occupations (nurses, physical therapists, biomedical engineers);
  • Public Safety and Security (EMTs, emergency management and response coordinators);
  • Technology (3D animator, computer engineer, biotechnical engineer).

Educational Plan

Outlines the courses the student must take to earn an Associate Degree or Certificate. Seeing a College counselor to get an educational plan early on can save both time and money. This plan can always be updated as career interests and educational plans change.

Counseling Centers

Program of Study

Incorporates aligned secondary and postsecondary academic and career education and lead to an industry-recognized credential or certificate at the postsecondary level, or an associate or baccalaureate degree.