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Career and Technology Student Organizations (CTSO)

Student Organizations


The purpose of DECA is to develop occupational competencies in the field of marketing and management, and to promote understanding and appreciation of our free enterprise system.

DECA, organized at the national level in 1947, is a tool used by a teacher-coordinator to motivate, inspire, teach, and recognize young people in unique ways. It complements the marketing education classroom instruction and work experiences. DECA's activities focus on competition at the local, state, and national levels in specific occupational skills, leadership development and management training. DECA also offers many opportunities for young people to develop leadership qualities in a student-directed organization.


Developing strong, aggressive leadership in America's future businessmen and businesswomen is the primary objective of the Future Business Leaders of America/Phi Beta Lambda (FBLA/PBL). FBLA is the national career and technology student organization for secondary students, and PBL is for postsecondary/collegiate students who are studying business and exploring careers in the business world.

Organized on the national level in 1941, FBLA/PBL members learn to compete honorably with fellow students who share similar goals. They learn to engage in individual and group enterprises, and to lead others and direct a group. Members develop their leadership, human relations, communications and business skills by working on projects that put them in touch with the business community. Members are provided the opportunity to test the skills that they have developed in the classroom and through FBLA in a wide range of competitive events.


The FFA Association is the oldest career and technology student organization. Organized in 1928, the FFA is an integral part of the program of agricultural education in the public schools. FFA strengthens instruction for students of agricultural education by providing a laboratory for practical training in agriculture, leadership, cooperation, and citizenship.

Through active participation in the FFA, members learn by taking part in and conducting meetings, speaking in public, participating in events based on occupational skills, earning awards and recognition, and becoming involved in cooperative efforts and community improvement. As new technologies and new job opportunities emerge, so will the need for well-trained and educated people. Getting involved in high school agriculture and the FFA is the first step to a bright future in agriculture.


SkillsUSA is a national organization of young men and women enrolled in trade, industrial, technical, and health education programs. The SkillsUSA Maryland Association is one of the nation's strongest with members striving for self-improvement through scholarship, citizenship, and participation in school and community activities.

The national SkillsUSA organization was founded in 1965 with the purposes of fostering a respect for the dignity of work, establishing realistic career goals, creating enthusiasm for learning, and helping students obtain full and rewarding lives. SkillsUSA also promotes high standards in trade ethics, workmanship, scholarship, leadership, and safety.

Student Benefits

Develop essential Skills for Success such as Learning, Thinking Communication, Technology and Interpersonal Skills

Gain a positive image through competitive skill events, leadership development, and service projects

Serve their communities and nation

Gain a competitive edge in the workforce

Interact with future employers


Teacher Benefits

Enhance their academic and career technology education

Increase student involvement in the curriculum

Improve student attitudes toward learning in the classroom

Involve local business and industry support and participation

Business Benefits

Gain direct involvement in the preparation of future employees

Ensure that the education curriculum reflects current industry practices

Support students, schools, and the community through scholarship opportunities

Additional Resources

Policies & Procedures for Implementing Career Technology Student Organizations (CTSOs) in Maryland

Chuck Wallace, Lead Specialist
CTE Student and Assessment Services Branch
Division of Career and Technology Education
Maryland State Department of Education
200 West Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
Phone: 410-767-8872
Fax: 410-333- 2099
Email: charles.wallace@maryland.gov