• High Growth Career Pathways

    What are High Growth Careers?

    High Growth Careers are occupations that are designated as a "High Priority Occupation" by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry and meet all of the following requirements:

    • 5% minimum employment growth
    • 2% minimum average projected workforce openings per year
    • Entry-level wage exceeds the family-sustaining wage minimum in Allegheny County

    In 2016-2017, the careers that fit these criteria include:

    High Growth Careers Image

    Academic programs at CCAC that prepare students for any of these High Growth Careers are called High Growth Career Pathways, and these are designated in the Course Catalog starting with the 2017-2018 academic year.

    The Perkins Grant seeks to encourage exploration into these fields because every High Growth Career Pathway (HGCP) at CCAC in 2016-2017 is a Career & Technical Education program except for Social Sciences (program number 59), which also meets the HGC criteria.  

    Why does CCAC support the Perkins Grant's emphasis on gender equity in career choice?

    According to a 2011 study by the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA), women across non-STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math-a majority of the High Growth Careers) occupations earned, on average, just $0.79 for every $1.00 earned by men for the same work, a 21% pay gap. The root of this inequality is systemic and unacceptable.

    However, there is some promise for improvement in High Growth Careers. The same study found that women in STEM occupations have a reduced pay gap of 14%. While there is much work to be done, High Growth Careers result in more equitable gender outcomes.

    As a postsecondary institution, CCAC has a commitment to opening doors to individuals of all genders and helping them prepare for and lead productive lives. CCAC's designation of High Growth Career Pathways is a reflection of this mission: to encourage advantageous career choices among people and groups who have been underrepresented. Read more about this commitment and the work of the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion.

    Why choose one of CCAC's High Growth Career Pathways (HGCP)?

    Choosing a High Growth Career Pathway (HGCP) affords students many benefits, including:

    • Increased job opportunities in Southwestern Pennsylvania after graduation (footnote 1)
    • Higher starting and mid-career wages/salaries compared to the careers for most non-HGCP's (footnote 2)
    • Transferrable skills that can be applied to other in-demand fields, particularly knowledge and technical capability in the natural sciences, math, and engineering (footnote 3)

    In addition, because many HGCPs also qualify as Career & Technical Education under the Perkins Grant, students in these academic programs gain access to additional resources and equipment in the classroom as well as CTE-specific support services.

    What are the benefits of choosing a High Growth Career for women?

    • Enrolling in an HGCP with the intent to pursue an HGC is a potent combination: these programs are time- and cost-efficient, and these jobs are the most likely to garner family-sustaining wages
    • Many employers are looking to expand the representation of women in their workplaces; diversity in the workplace is shown to increase productivity
    • With more women in traditionally male-majority careers, Pennsylvania and the country can work toward more equitable compensation and fair treatment for women


    (1) How does CCAC calculate this? The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry tracks the current number of jobs in an occupation and compares this to the estimated figure for 10 years in the future. CCAC uses the Three-Rivers Workforce Development Area data. The following linear growth formula is used: [(Number of jobs in 10 years) - (Number of jobs now)]/(Number of jobs now). See: http://www.dli.pa.gov/Pages/default.aspx.
    (2) How does CCAC calculate this? Assuming linear growth, the average size of the workforce in an occupation is the arithmetic mean. Then, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry estimates the number of openings that will be available each year. The percentage of the workforce each year that will turn over (that is, retire or leave their position, opening up a new position) uses this formula: (Number of available openings)/(Mean workforce size over the 10-year period). See: http://www.dli.pa.gov/Pages/default.aspx.
    (3) How does CCAC calculate this? This is a measure of whether an occupation can sustain a family. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology calculates benchmarks for every county in the country for what wages are required for affordable living, and CCAC uses the 2-adult, 2-child standard. See: http://livingwage.mit.edu/counties/42003.