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Career Clusters: building, fixing, and operating — oh my!

Updated: Jan 24, 2022

In our Which Cluster is the One For You? post, we shared that the Career Clusters framework is one of many ways to learn more about the occupations that exist in the world. Knowing more about career clusters can help you narrow down not only which cluster is right for you, but more specifically which pathway(s) and occupation(s) might bring you the most fulfillment.

This week, we're going to take a look at the Industrial & Engineering Technology cluster. These people build and operate the world around us: they design and construct homes, cities, roads, infrastructure; they create and fly our planes and construct and drive trucks, trains, and boats. So if you've always been interested in the building, fixing, or operating things, or perhaps took the assessment we recommended in our first post and found this cluster ranking near the top, stick around! This post will cover:

  • what kinds of pathways and occupations are found in this career cluster

  • programs that can help you explore careers in infrastructure, manufacturing, and engineering while in high school

  • strategies to develop knowledge & skills that will prepare you for this industry


Pathways & Occupations

This grouping is organized into four clusters, each with a handful of career pathways, and a variety of occupations within each pathway. Click the links below to see learn more about each cluster, including careers in each pathway based on education level.

Transportation, Distribution, & Logistics Have you always been fascinated by vehicles? Do you like to drive them or fix them? Transportation, distribution, and logistics workers move people and products by road, air, rail, and water. You might work as a driver, pilot, engineer, or captain. You might repair or maintain the vehicles, trains, planes, and ships that move people and products. Or, you might work behind the scenes to make sure the products and people get to the right place on time.

Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathemetics Are you detail-oriented? Do you want to know how things work, or enjoy solving problems? Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics workers do scientific research in labs or the field. Others plan or design products and systems. Or, you might support scientists, mathematicians, or engineers as they do their work. For example, you might oversee the construction of roads, develop systems to prevent diseases, or help engineers do research and read blueprints.

Architecture & Construction Would you like to get paid to build the things people use everyday? Architecture and construction workers work on buildings and other structures. This includes highways, bridges, houses, and buildings. You might create the designs or plans for new structures. Or, you might use the plans to build it or manage the workers on the project. Some architecture and construction workers do skilled trades, like carpentry, painting, or plumbing. For example, you might do all of the electrical work for a renovated office space. Or, you might work as a landscaper and take care of flowers and trees on large properties.

Manufacturing Are you good working with your hands? Can you figure out how a machine works? Manufacturing workers work with products and equipment. You might design a new product, decide how the product will be made, or make the product. You might work on cars, computers, appliances, airplanes, or electronic devices. Other manufacturing workers install or repair products. For example, you might install refrigerators or washers, repair plumping in commercial buildings, or diagnose engine problems in cars and trucks.


Career Exploration

If you think you may be interested in a career in Industrial & Engineering Technology, there are a few ways to start getting experience and exposure now to help explore the kind of work involved in these types of careers. The following entities provide excellent opportunities to dip your toes in these clusters —

STEM Academy | Oregon State University OSU's 2021 camp programs will include the Summer Transportation Institute, and their AWSEM Clubs are designed to nurture girls’ interest in STEM by providing a program of hands-on activities paired with female undergraduate students studying STEM. Many colleges across the state offer STEM programs for high school students, so do your own research on what's offered near you!

If you're interested in pursuing a trade, such as a career as an electrician or carpenter, you don't have to wait until after high school to start experiencing and benefiting from an apprenticeship setting. Pre-apprenticeships are available to students and provide a great opportunity to build your portfolio, gain experience, and begin meeting requirements for future apprenticeships.

Virtual Job Shadow Online Platform Username: BakerWebS16, Password: CareerPrep2020! All Baker students have access to this virtual platform, with videos and resources that give you a glimpse at a day-in-the-life of hundreds of occupations. To get started, click on the Careers menu at the top, then Career Central. From there, click on the Filter By: Cluster button, and select any of the clusters from today's post from the menu on the left-hand side.


Knowledge & Skills

There are many classes you can take at your local community college to help build foundational knowledge and skills that will prepare you for the building, fixing, and operating industries. If you're a Baker Web Academy student who would like to take one or more courses through your community college, contact our Enrollment Specialist, Kimberly Linn.

Here are a few I strongly recommend—


If you're interested in engineering of any kind, hopefully you're also interested in math! While in high school, take as many math courses as possible. One of the major perks of being part of Baker Early College is the ability to take college-level math courses that will transfer to your bachelor's degree requirements. For engineering students, those requirements will definitely include calculus and statistics.

Computer Science

Most jobs today require us to be savvy with a computer, but jobs in this career cluster in particular tend to rely heavily on the ability to use and even design complex software programs. Even if you don't plan to become a software engineer, engineers of all kinds and other professionals in this industry will need and use the skills taught in computer science courses.

Engineering What does an engineer really do? It's such a common major, but one that many students jump into without fully understanding what the career looks like. Other high school students might benefit from gaining some clarity on which kind of engineering they want to pursue once at a 4-year school. So why not take some intro classes? Each community college has different offerings, but most will have at least one course to dip your toes into the engineering waters.

Trade-Specific Courses Depending on your interests and your school, you may be able to take courses that will provide you with trade-based skills in a career area you're interested in. Community colleges across the state offer courses (and even programs) in welding, aviation science or maintenance, machine manufacturing, automotive technology, construction (building and inspection), etc. Talk with your advisor to see what options are available to you!

Want some personalized guidance? Click here to schedule a meeting with your career & college counselor today. Allison Styffe works with BEC students in Central, Southern, and Eastern Oregon. Jennifer Tracewell works with all BWA students as well as BEC students in Portland, Salem, and Eugene.
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