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Vocational Education Teachers, Secondary School

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Vocational Education Teachers, Secondary School Overview

Though most vocational education teachers have a bachelor’s degree from a teacher education program as well as a teacher’s license, many states now are making exceptions for those who don’t have licenses but have work experience. With favorable job prospects, the growth of employment is expected to be as fast as the average, similar to other occupations.

Nature of the Work for Vocational Education Teachers, Secondary School

Vocational Education Teachers, Secondary School

The job of a vocational education teacher is to instruct and train students in a wide variety of fields. Commonly known as career and technical education (CTE) teachers or career-technology teachers, their job is to train students on how to enter particular work fields as well as how to prepare them for employment.

The role of secondary vocational education teachers is to introduce students to careers, to provide career guidance, help with job placement and teaching a skill that is in high demand by many employers. Employers can also play active roles in these courses, by offering their input for curriculum as well as offering apprenticeships. The role of a vocational education teacher may also be to stay in contact with students after graduation.

Under Federal Law, secondary vocational education teachers are forced to provide curriculum offerings with the 4-year colleges, community colleges and technical schools.

Vocational education teachers teach in varied traditional comprehensive schools, from career academies and regional CTE centers, to comprehensive secondary schools or in schools where students spend most of their time in a lab or shop.

For vocational education teachers working at the secondary level, their primary focus is to help prepare students before entering the workplace or preparing them to continue on at a postsecondary level.

Lectures and work-based learning are used by vocational education teachers. This work-based learning is important for students to take what they learn in the classroom and apply it in the real world.

While vocational education teachers are lecturing, they are instructing students on specific theories and techniques used in a field, laws and the history of a profession as well as providing demonstrations of tasks and techniques that may be used in a particular field.

When vocational education teachers are working in a lab, teachers can assist students as well as assign student to different tasks.

Along with teaching, some vocational education teachers can serve as the advisory for co-curricular student organizations as another way for students to apply classroom learning to real world situations.

Vocational education teachers can teach in fields such as business and marketing, health occupations, consumer science, agricultural science, trade and industry or technology education.

Vocational education teachers who work in the field of agricultural science may cover topics such as horticulture, agri-science, small animal care and agricultural production. Vocational education teachers in this field may ask students to plant and care for crops as well as other hands-on learning tasks.

Vocational education teachers teaching in the field of family and consumer science can teach students an array of topics. Hands-on learning would include working in early childhood education classes or creating menus for a function.

Vocational education teachers in the health-related field help students learn skills necessary for the medical field. It may be skills involved in becoming a nurse or dental assistant. Vocational educational teachers in this field may ask students to perform tasks such as measuring blood pressure or administering blood tests. Certifications to enter the health field are even offered at some schools.

For students looking to learn the skills of how to run a business, vocational educational teachers will work in the field of business and marketing to help students with programming and products. Time spent in computer labs may occur as well as learning financial management skills. Many schools offer students the chance to open businesses that are available for the public to access.

Vocational education teachers working in the field of trade and industry can train students in a wide variety of topics, from auto mechanics to television production, cosmetology and electrical wiring. Labs are extensively used to allow students time to apply what they learn in a hands-on environment.

Vocational education teachers in the field of technology use principles of math and science to enforce learning. Students can learn about physics and computer science and some students take this as a precursor to engineering.

Though teaching can be rewarding for vocational education teachers, some find it stressful to work in large classrooms or schools that are rundown and lack amenities. Disrespectful and unmotivated students can also contribute to this stress.

Vocational education teachers are usually teaching in the classroom alone but can sometimes pair up in teams to teach courses.

Vocational education teachers usually work more than 40 hours per week. Secondary vocational education teachers will usually work a 10-month school year with a 2-month summer vacation. Breaks for vocational education teachers can include teaching summer sessions, traveling or taking other jobs.

For vocational education teachers who work year round, their schedule usually consists of working 8 weeks and then taking a week off for vacation as well as a 5 week vacation midwinter.

Vocational education teachers on work-based learning programs may be subject to 12-month contracts so they can also help both current and future students with job development.

Vocational educational teachers may receive tenure after a probationary period, usually around three years. Tenure provides a sense of security, but does not always guarantee a job.

Training, Other Qualifications and Advancement for Vocational Education Teachers, Secondary School

Recommended Education Level

The traditional route to becoming a career and technical education teacher at the secondary school level requires completing a bachelor's degree from a teacher education program and then obtaining a license. However, most States now offer alternative routes to licensure for those who have work experience in their field.

Traditionally, most aspiring CTE teachers obtain a bachelor’s degree and often major in the subject they plan to teach while also completing a program of study in teacher preparation. However, with the proper amount of work experience in the chosen teaching field, many states allow CTE teachers to enter the occupation with a bachelor’s degree minus the teacher preparation program or with only a high school diploma.

All 50 States and the District of Columbia require public school CTE teachers in secondary schools to be licensed. Usually licensure is granted by the State Board of Education or a licensure advisory committee. All States require teachers to have a bachelor's degree and to have completed an approved teacher training program with a prescribed number of subject and education credits, as well as supervised practice teaching. Some States also require technology training and the attainment of a minimum grade point average. A number of States require teachers to obtain a master's degree in education within a specified period after they begin teaching. Almost all States require an applicant for a teacher’s license to take a competency test. Most States require teachers to complete a minimum number of hours of continuing education to renew their license. Many States have reciprocity agreements that make it easier for teachers licensed in one State to become licensed in another.

However, there are alternative routes to licensure which allow those who did not go through traditional teacher preparation program to become licensed CTE teachers. Often this requires work experience in additional to a high school diploma or a bachelors degree without teacher preparation. The educational requirement varies depending on the State and the amount of experience the applicant has.

In addition to being knowledgeable about the subjects they teach, teachers must be good communicators and inspire trust and confidence. They should motivate students and understand the students' educational and emotional needs. Teachers must recognize and respond to individual and cultural differences in students and employ different teaching methods that will result in higher student achievement. They should be organized, dependable, patient, and creative. Teachers also must be able to work cooperatively and communicate effectively with other teachers, support staff, parents, and members of the community.

Teachers may become administrators or supervisors, although the number of these positions is limited and competition for them can be intense. In some systems, highly qualified, experienced teachers can become senior or mentor teachers, with higher pay and additional responsibilities. They guide and assist less experienced teachers while keeping most of their own teaching responsibilities. CTE teachers may also move to teaching classes at the postsecondary level.

Top 10 Most Popular Education and Teaching Schools

1. University of Phoenix (Multiple Campus Locations)
2. Walden University, Minneapolis (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
3. Marygrove College (Detroit, Michigan)
4. Grand Canyon University (Multiple Campus Locations)
5. National-Louis University (Chicago, Illinois)
6. Troy University, Troy (Troy, Alabama)
7. California State University, Fullerton (Fullerton, California)
8. Azusa Pacific University (Azusa, California)
9. Saint Mary's University of Minnesota (Winona, Minnesota)
10. Ohio State University, Columbus (Columbus, Ohio)

See All Education and Teaching Schools

Most Popular Online Education and Teaching Schools

1. University of Phoenix - Online School
2. American InterContinental University - Online School
3. Jones International University - Online
4. Saint Leo University Online
5. Northcentral University - Online School
6. Purdue University Global
7. Ashworth College - Online School
8. DeVry University - Online School
9. University of Arizona Global Campus
10. Lake Region Technical College - Online School

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Employment and Job Outlook for Vocational Education Teachers, Secondary School

Number of People in Profession


Changing Employment (2008-2018)

Employment is projected to grow about as fast as average (increase 7 - 13%).

Vocational education teachers in secondary schools hold 92,980 jobs in public or private institutions.

Employment for vocational education teachers in secondary school is expected to grow 10 percent from 2008 to 2018. Growth in school enrollments means that job opportunities will continue to open for vocational education teachers.

Though state enrollment varies, enrollment increases are likely to occur in states in the South and West. Enrollment in the Northeast is expected to decline while enrollment in the Midwest is expected to remain steady. Growth in this occupation overall may slow down due to people focusing on traditional academic subjects as opposed to career specific training.

There are job advantages for vocational education teachers who hold licenses in multiple subjects and who are geographically mobile.

In terms of job prospects, opportunities are favorable considering those who leave the field for other opportunities or those who retire.

Earnings and Salary for Vocational Education Teachers, Secondary School

Median annual wages of vocational education teachers in secondary schools are $52,550. The middle 50 percent earn between $42,890 and $64,830. The lowest 10 percent earn less than $35,420, and the highest 10 percent earn more than $78,170.

Annual Salary for Vocational Education Teachers, Secondary School

On average, Vocational Education Teachers, Secondary School earn $52,550 per year.

10% 25% 75% 90% $35,420/yr $42,890/yr $64,830/yr $78,170/yr

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook