The job market can be confusing, with a wealth of seemingly unlimited options on one side and fluctuating stability on the other. Regardless of where you are in your career progression, the prospect of choosing a career path can be daunting. One way of making the decision-making process simpler is to consider career clusters instead of choosing one specific job. Understanding the concept of career clusters can help you to focus on the broader picture. This in turn will help you to make the right career choices.

In this article

  1. What is a career cluster?
  2. The 16 career clusters explained
  3. How do career clusters benefit job seekers?

What is a career cluster?

In a nutshell, a career cluster is a classification into a group of an occupation based on its characteristics. In a similar way that school subjects or books in a library can be classified, you can take a job and place it into a category – or cluster. The act of clustering careers can be useful in helping people to identify the general types of work that they like doing. It can help identify the industry that they want to work in.  This structure prevents them from being overwhelmed by the pressure to choose a specific job.

The 16 career clusters explained

The career clusters are loose “pots” that could help you to identify the right role for you. Some jobs will fit into multiple clusters; IT is a particular area that fits in both its cluster, as well as almost any other one because technology is prevalent across all industries in these digital times.  By finding the group of jobs that most appeal, it is possible to narrow down the opportunities available to you.

1. Information Technology

From data science to web development, the world of IT has reached every corner of every career cluster; if you love tech, you can take that passion and work in the cluster that resonates most with your values.  According to Motion Recruitment’s IT Salary Guide, industry growth is set to continue, making this a good option for those seeking longer-term stability.

2. Architecture and Construction

If you like the idea of changing the landscape in which we live – literally – then architecture and construction might be the cluster for you. Jobs in this cluster include civil engineer, builder, architect and build project manager.

3. Arts, A/V Technology, and Communications

The cluster with a creative flair contains journalists, photographers, graphic designers and videographers, all of whom strive to help their audience see the world a little differently.

4. Business Management and Administration

Business management and administration is for leaders, entrepreneurs and those with great organizational skills. It includes HR specialists and marketers.

5. Education and Training

Responsible for shaping the future, educators and trainers are the backbone of all industries, inspiring future leaders and doers. The cluster includes teachers and lecturers to those influencing policy in education and school administrators.

6. Finance

If you have an affinity for numbers, the financial cluster might be the right place for you. The professionals in this area play a key role in ensuring that organizations are viable and sustainable. According to Forbes, the role of loan officer was the top job this year, with advertised salary doubling compared to last year.

7. Government and Public Administration

If you love policy, administration or public service, a career in the government and public administration cluster could be just the thing that you are looking for. From police to politicians, there is plenty to choose from.

8. Health Science

Health science professionals underpin our society, keeping people healthy and promoting best practices for longer, healthier lives. Doctors and nurses play a central role. However,  medical research specialists and healthcare administrators have a vital part to play, too. A greater appreciation for the health sciences has seen a deserved rise in benefits, with the role of nurse practitioner ranked as the second-best job by US News.

9. Hospitality and Tourism

If you love travel, are a great organizer and love bringing a smile to peoples’ faces, consider a career in hospitality. Roles include wait staff, hotel and restaurant managers, wedding coordinators, receptionists and travel agents.

10. Human Services

The quiet heroes of modern life, human services professionals – counsellors, social workers, nonprofit workers and outreach support staff help to make the lives of those who need support just a little bit better.

11. Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources

If sustainability is your thing, you are passionate about provenance and nutrition, or you just love animals, then this could be the career cluster for you. Ranging from rearing animals to landscape gardening, from arboriculture to sustainable fuel production, the opportunities in agriculture, food and natural resources are hugely varied; but a great place to start if you have an interest in food and fuel production or sustainability.

12. Law, Public Safety, Corrections, and Security

If you have a strong sense of justice and a drive to protect, serve and bring order to society, then the role of lawyer, judge or police may be the right one for you.

13. Manufacturing

For people who like to see concepts come to life and witness the impact of the fruits of their labour, the manufacturing cluster includes machinists, carpenters, production leaders, health and safety specialists and quality control officers.

14. Marketing, Sales, and Service

Offering PR, marketing, sales and marketing services across industries, this cluster offers careers in marcomms, marketing management, marketing research and sales.

15. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)

The massive spectrum of STEM subjects is crammed into one huge cluster, which offers a window into engineering, technology, astronomy, and scientific research. Jobs in this cluster include structural engineer, lab technician, research assistant and chemist.

16. Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics

All professionals linked with the movement of people and goods fall into transportation, distribution and logistics. Jobs include distribution centre operators, bus drivers and cabin crew.

How do career clusters benefit job seekers?

If you are unsure where to start in finding a job, careers clusters can help you to narrow things down a little by helping you to identify a career path that appeals to you, as well as allowing you to see where your skills fit best. Once you know which cluster or clusters you are interested in, it is easier to target your resume to make it more attractive to employers within those fields, and it is easier for employers to reach you, because they may well be using cluster-specific endeavours to attract the right calibre of employee.

If you are looking for a job in a specific area, first identify your cluster(s). Then take the time to research opportunities within that cluster(s). Take time to check out the range of skills and experience that employers are looking for. Then cross-reference them against your resume to help you get the best possible chance of entering the job stream of your dreams.