A Career and Technical Student Organization (CTSO) is an organization that engages in career and technical education activities as an integral part of the instructional program. CTSOs provide opportunities to develop and refine the skills students need in their chosen occupational area. Conferences, competitions, workshops, community service and other activities encourage leadership development and career exploration.

Back to top

CTSOs in Perkins V

The Iowa Department of Education supports CTSOs by providing limited financial support through Perkins funding and technical assistance to the various CTSOs established within the state. The Department holds the state charter for each CTSO.

Career and Technical Organizations Toolkit

Career and Technical Student Organization Secondary Guidance

Career and Technical Student Organization Postsecondary Guidance

Guidance Impacting CTSOs and the Senior Year Plus Concurrent Enrollment Program

CTSO Dues Chart

Back to top


CTSOs have proven their ability to connect education and careers, motivate students, build education and business partnerships, participate in career guidance and counseling, encourage higher level academics, and build interpersonal and employability skills of students.

CTSOs are considered "co-curricular" organizations and are directly linked to career education coursework through a comprehensive high school, career academy or college with an organized chapter of the related CTSO.

CTSOs support the career and technical curricula to:

  • enable students to achieve high academic and occupational standards
  • develop meaningful business partnerships
  • link work-based and school-based learning to the real world of work and family
  • motivate youth to become better students and productive citizens
  • develop school and community leaders
  • enhance students’ self-esteem and self-confidence
  • develop leadership skills and provide opportunities for success
  • keep students motivated and concentrated
Back to top

CTSO Alignment


At the secondary level, CTSOs are aligned broadly by service area and, more narrowly, by CIP code, as defined by the following list. 

Agricultural, Food and Natural Resources

Service AreaCIP CodeCTSO
Agriculture, General01.000FFA
Agricultural Business and Management01.0101FFA
Agricultural Mechanization01.0201FFA
Applied Horticulture/Horticulture Operations, General01.0601FFA
Animal Sciences, General01.0901FFA
Plant Sciences, General01.1101FFA
Other CIP Codes - As needed01.xxxxFFA

Applied Science, Technology, Engineering and Manufacturing

Service AreaCIP CodeCTSO
Autobody/Collision and Repair Technology/Technician47.0603SkillsUSA
Automobile/Automotive Mechanics Technology/Technician47.0604SkillsUSA
Construction Trades, General46.0000SkillsUSA
Criminal Justice/Police Science43.0107SkillsUSA
Diesel Mechanics Technology/Technician47.0605SkillsUSA
Drafting/Design Engineering Technologies/Technician15.1301SkillsUSA or TSA
Engineering Technologies/Technicians, General15.0000SkillsUSA or TSA
Manufacturing Engineering Technology15.0613SkillsUSA or FFA
Welding Technology/Welder48.0508SkillsUSA or FFA

Business, Finance, Marketing and Management

Service AreaCIP CodeCTSO
Business Administration and Management, General52.0201BPA or DECA or FBLA
Business/Commerce, General52.0201BPA or DECA or FBLA
Marketing/Marketing Management, GeneralCIP Code 52.1401BPA or DECA or FBLA

Information Solutions/Information Technology

Service AreaCIP CodeCTSO
Commercial Photography50.0406BPA or FBLA or TSA
Computer Systems Networking and Telecommunications11.0901BPA or FBLA or TSA
Computer Technology/Computer Systems Technology15.1202BPA or FBLA or TSA
Graphic Communications, General10.0301BPA or FBLA or TSA
Radio and Television Broadcasting Technology/Technician10.0202BPA or FBLA or TSA

Health Science

Service AreaCIP CodeCTSO
Health Services/Allied Health/Health Sciences, General51.0000HOSA-Future Health Professionals

Family and Consumer Sciences/Human Services

Service AreaCIP CodeCTSO
Apparel and Textiles, General19.90100FCCLA
Cooking and Related Culinary Arts, General12.0500FCCLA
Early Childhood Education and Teaching13.21001FCCLA
Education, General13.1010FCCLA
Family and Community Services19.7070FCCLA
Hospitality Administration/Management, General51.0100FCCLA


At the postsecondary level, CTSOs are aligned by career cluster as defined by the following list.

Service AreaCTSO
Agriculture, Food and Natural ResourcesNo postsecondary CTSO*
Architecture & ConstructionSkillsUSA
Arts, AV Technology & CommunicationsBPA or FBLA
Business, Management & AdministrationBPA or FBLA
Education & TrainingFCCLA
FinanceBPA or FBLA
Government & Public AdministrationFBLA or FCCLA
Health ScienceHOSA
Hospitality & TourismFCCLA or SkillsUSA
Human ServicesFCCLA or SkillsUSA
Information TechnologyBPA or FBLA
Law, Public Safety, Corrections & SecuritySkillsUSA
Marketing, Sales & ServiceBPA or FBLA
Science, Technology, Engineering & MathematicsSkillsUSA
Transportation, Distribution & LogisticsSkillsUSA


Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources

FFA - The national FFA organization is dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. Iowa FFA Association

Executive Director: Scott Johnson, scott.johnson@iowaffa.com, 515-965-7376

Applied Sciences, Technology, Engineering, and Manufacturing

SkillsUSA - An applied method of instruction for preparing America’s high performance workers in public career and technical programs. It provides quality education experiences for students in leadership, teamwork, citizenship and character development. It builds and reinforces self-confidence, work attitudes and communications skills. It emphasizes total quality at work: high ethical standards, superior work skills, life-long education and pride in the dignity of work. SkillsUSA also promotes understanding of the free-enterprise system and involvement in community service. SkillsUSA-Iowa

Executive Director: Kent Storm, statedirector@skillsusaiowa.org, 515-344-3888

Technology Student Association (TSA) - Fosters personal growth, leadership and opportunities in technology, innovation, design and engineering. Members apply and integrate science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) concepts through co-curricular activities, competitive events and related programs. Iowa Technology Students Association

Executive Director: Rhys South, rhys.south@johnston.k12.ia.us, 515-822-5135

Business, Finance, Marketing, and Management

Business Professionals of America (BPA) - The mission of BPA is to contribute to the preparation of a world-class workforce through the advancement of leadership, academic, citizenship and technological skills; prepares students to be effective associates and committed business leaders by educating, validating and motivating on an individual basis; to develop the business, communication, technical and leadership skills need to contribute and compete in the workplace today and tomorrow. Iowa Business Professionals of America

Executive Director: Deb Jones, djones@iowalakes.edu, 712-852-5241

DECA (formerly Distributive Education Clubs of America) - The mission of DECA is to enhance the co-curricular education of students who have an interest in marketing, management and entrepreneurship. DECA seeks to help students develop skills and competence for marketing, finance, hospitality, management and entrepreneurial careers, build self-esteem, experience leadership and practice community service. DECA is committed to the advocacy and growth of business and education partnerships. Iowa DECA

Executive Director: Carol Von Tersch, director@iowadeca.org, 515-259-1718

Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) - The mission of FBLA is to bring business and education together in a positive working relationship through innovative leadership and career development programs. Iowa FBLA

Executive Director: Kent Storm, kent.storm@iowa.gov, 515-657-8260

Health Sciences

HOSA - Future Health Professionals - The purpose of the HOSA organization is to develop leadership and technical HOSA skill competencies through a program of motivation, awareness and recognition, which is an integral part of the Health Science Education instructional program.

Executive Director: Alisa Drapeaux, director@iowahosa.org, 515-523-0514

Human Services

Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) - The mission of FCCLA is to promote personal growth and leadership development through Family and Consumer Sciences education. Focusing on the multiple roles of family member, wage earner and community leader, members develop skills for live through character development, creative and critical thinking, interpersonal communication, practical knowledge and career preparation. Iowa FCCLA

Executive Director: Sherry Vogel, director@iowafccla.org, 515-303-0774

Back to top

Financial Guidance

Financial guidelines for CTSOs that have received Federal Perkins Grant Program funds have been established. These guidelines call for oversight by the Department. The Department monitors for fiscal compliance and verifies that requirements are met in order for the CTSO to receive Federal Perkins Grant Program (Perkins) funds.

Back to top

Student Outcomes

Students participating in career and technical student organizations have the opportunity to develop and enhance their leadership and citizenship skills within the context of career and program interests which also enhances their occupational skills and future employability. These organizations provide students opportunities in a caring, secure environment to participate in leadership initiatives, and to enhance their awareness of the role of community service and responsibility to governmental affairs.

Activities are designed to provide opportunities for student achievement in sound decision-making, positive professional appearances and skill attainment. These experiences are enhanced through involvement of business, industry and labor in a climate of positive interaction and cooperation. For many students, this is the only leadership opportunity they will experience during their educational careers. Communities, states and the nation benefit, as well as the individual and their families.

Back to top

Community Support

Producing viable, active citizens who are concerned about their professions and the welfare of their communities, states and nation is the positive product. Career and technical student organizations have an excellent reputation and years of success in Iowa.

Communities and businesses can provide support by serving as evaluators at state and national conferences, serving as guest speakers, providing opportunities for job shadowing or internships, and assisting in any way they and the organization agree upon.

Source: CTSO: Guide to Accessing Federal Perkins Funds For the Support of Career and Technical Student Organizations, 2008, Editor/Project Manager: Lyn Fiscus, Leadership Logistics, Contributing Editor/Writer: Alisha Dixon Hyslop, Assistant Director of Public Policy, Association for Career and Technical Education.

Back to top

CTSO Advisor Academy

The CTSO Advisor Academy is an Iowa Department of Education supported initiative to provide training, resources and support for emerging CTSO programs. The program has 12 total video modules and is available entirely on demand, with videos released throughout the year. 

Modules include:

  • Introduction to CTSOs
  • Introduction to Iowa's CTSOs
  • Managing Perkins Dollars & Student Activity Funds with Your CTSO
  • Membership Recruitment and Engagement
  • Managing Chapter Meetings
  • Integrating into the Classroom
  • Electing and Supporting Chapter Officers
  • Developing a Chapter Program of Work
  • Crafting Community Service Projects
  • Succeeding at Competitive Events
  • Attending Conferences and Events
  • Fundraising and Financial Leadership Activities

Most modules are accompanied by a resource document that highlights key points and guides advisors in future learning.

Register for the CTSO Advisor Academy - Modules will be emailed to registrants when released.

Back to top

CTSO Resources

Back to top