Illinois Pathways

The employment landscape is shifting. Education needs to be more relevant to the real world, and resources and investments need to be coordinated in a way that makes sense to industry partners. In order to achieve this, we need complimentary community and state-level approaches for this work. Illinois Pathways was launched in 2012 to respond to the changing education to employment dynamics.

Key Strategies of Illinois Pathways are:

  • Support local career pathway systems development that empower students to explore their academic and career interests in STEM fields through new and existing community and state networks.
  • Creation and support of new state-wide, public-private partnerships known as STEM Learning Exchanges that work to create partnerships between schools, industry, state-government, and non-profits which better coordinate investments, resources, and planning in a particular industry cluster.

Education and Career Pathways

Education and career pathways are an integrated collection of programs and services intended to develop students’ core academic, technical and employability skills; provide them with continuous education, training; and place them in high-demand, high-opportunity jobs. Illinois Pathways builds off of the National Career Clusters® Framework and supports career pathway systems in STEM application areas. The pathways are a basis for clusters of specific occupations or careers grouped together because they share similar interests, strengths, and skills.

Programs and Courses

The programs and courses shown with the Illinois Pathways range from:

  • Orientation - Middle and High School
  • Secondary – High School
  • Postsecondary – Bridge Programs, Certificate Programs and Associates, Bachelors, and Graduate Degrees

Programs and courses are subject to change. The intent is to provide general information based on education and career pathways.

Work-Based Learning

In order to improve academic performance and postsecondary outcomes, as well as ensure students are both college and career ready, all students that are participating in STEM Education and Career Pathways should have access to high-quality work-based learning experiences. These experiences build upon their academic and career interests and provide meaningful and relevant opportunities to demonstrate their skills and knowledge.

For Illinois Pathways the progression of work-based learning activities is categorized along a continuum that includes career awareness, career exploration, career preparation, and on-the-job training.

Credentials and Assessments

A credential attests to the qualifications, competence, or authority of an individual to perform at levels of proficiency established by a third party with the relevant or de facto authority and competence to do so. It is the ultimate demonstration of the Knowledge and Skills outlined in the Programs of Study. It can be the culmination of an individual Plan of Study—and the beginning of a lifelong career of achievement a chosen field.

Credentials and assessments include:

  • Soft skills such as teamwork and leadership, work ethic, problem solving, lead, communications, positive attitude, attendance and self-presentation, independence and initiative, and positive attitude.
  • Academic skills such as mathematics, reading, writing, science and technology.
  • Technical skills such as computer literacy, job-specific, and industry-wide technical skills. Industry-wide technical skills are used in more than one industry sector (segment of an industry). These skills make it possible for employees to move easily across industry sub-sectors. By having industry-wide technical skills, you will have more opportunity for a variety of jobs, rather than being locked into a single career path.


Education and career pathways lead to career options that require similar skills and preparation.  View Careers with Illinois Pathways to see groupings of careers along with Labor Market Information (LMI). The LMI includes expected job growth and openings, examples of wages, and the anticipated level of education and training needed.

Click on any of the careers to learn more about: job demand and wages, skills and training and related jobs and information.