Vocational teachers are those who instruct students in practical career paths. They might teach shop courses like woodworking, metalworking, auto shop, welding, technology, business, or a range of other classes. They are specialized educators who fulfill an important job in the current educational climate of our nation and world. Learn about becoming a vocational teacher, the educational requirements, responsibilities and duties of teaching career and technical education students.
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What Is a Vocational Teacher?
Vocational education is becoming more popular and important in an environment increasingly focused on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education. We are pushing our students ever more towards practical and productive jobs with specific skill sets. The men and women who teach these skills are vocational teachers.
Also called career teachers or technical education teachers, these professionals must have outstanding communication skills, exceptional knowledge in their field of expertise, and skills that are geared specifically towards the age group they are to instruct. The end goal is to equip the students to move forward in a given occupation.
Job Duties of a Career Teacher
Vocational and career technical teachers may see their everyday work vary widely from one day to the next. Their first priority, obviously, is the students. They plan lessons and deliver education to students, focusing on skills, best practices, safety and technical knowledge in a given field.
An auto shop teacher, for example, might teach changing a tire one day, and repairing a transmission or exhaust system the next. At the most advanced levels, students might learn how to change out an engine or build a car from the ground up. Wood shop workers might start with building a box, advance to basic furniture and even cover buildings and structures at high levels.
You’ll need outstanding communications skills, organizational skills, detail orientation, and presentation abilities as well as supervisory skills and decision making ability. Patience and a calm head are essential, and certification in first aid can be very helpful.
Becoming a Vocational Education Teacher
Becoming a technical education teacher first involves getting your credentials as a teacher. Each state has its own path to certification and licensure, but federal law requires, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree and student teaching internship. You will also need to specialize in one of sixteen fields, or career clusters. These include:
- Transportation, Logistics and Distribution
- Law and Public Safety, Corrections and Security
- Information Technology
- Human Services
- Hospitality and Tourism
- Health Services
- Public Administration and Government
- Training and Education
- Business Management and Business Administration
- Arts, Audiovisual Technology and Communications
- Architecture / Construction
- Food, Natural Resources and Agriculture
Salary and Job Outlook
As of 2015 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, vocational teachers earned a median wage of $55,190 in middle schools, $56,130 in high schools and $49,470 in higher education. These earnings are subject to changes based on geographic location, experience, and specific field. The job is expected to grow by between 4% and 7% by 2024, with most job openings to be found in urban and rural schools as opposed to suburban districts.
To become a vocational teacher, you’ll want to start by getting your teaching certification in your state. Check out the requirements to do so on our site, and look at the other possible career paths for teachers today.