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What Career and Technical Education Teachers Do About this section

Career and technical education teachers
Technical education teachers often work in classrooms and help students.

Career and technical education (CTE) teachers provide training in subjects such as auto repair, cosmetology, and culinary arts. They teach vocational and technical content to give students the skills and knowledge necessary to enter an occupation.

Duties

Career and technical education teachers typically do the following:

  • Create lesson plans and assignments
  • Instruct students on how to develop certain skills
  • Show students how to apply classroom knowledge through hands-on activities
  • Demonstrate and supervise safe and proper use of tools and equipment
  • Monitor students’ progress, assign tasks, and grade assignments
  • Discuss students’ progress with parents, students, and counselors
  • Develop and enforce classroom rules and safety procedures

CTE teachers help students explore and prepare to enter a career or technical occupation. They use a variety of teaching methods to help students learn and develop skills related to a specific occupation or career field. They demonstrate tasks, techniques, and tools used in an occupation. They may assign hands-on tasks, such as replacing brakes on cars, taking blood pressure, or applying makeup. Teachers typically oversee these activities in workshops and laboratories in the school.

Some teachers work with local businesses and nonprofit organizations to provide practical work experience for students. They also serve as advisers to students participating in career and technical student organizations.

The specific duties of CTE teachers vary by the grade and subject they teach. In middle schools and high schools, they teach general concepts in a classroom and practical exercises in workshops and laboratories.

In postsecondary schools, they teach specific career skills that help students earn a certificate, a diploma, or an associate’s degree and prepare them for a specific job. For example, welding instructors teach students welding techniques and safety practices. They also monitor the use of tools and equipment and have students practice procedures until they meet the standards required by the trade.

In most states, teachers in middle and high schools teach one subject within major career fields. CTE teachers combine academic instruction with experiential learning in their subject of expertise.

For example, teachers of courses in agricultural, food, and natural resources teach topics such as agricultural production; agriculture-related business; veterinary science; and plant, animal, and food systems. They may have students plant and care for crops and animals to apply what they have learned in the classroom.

For information about the programs for major career fields, visit Advance CTE.

Work Environment About this section

Career and technical education teachers
Technical education teachers demonstrate the theories and techniques of their field.

Career and technical education teachers held about 209,700 jobs in 2019. Employment in the detailed occupations that make up career and technical education teachers was distributed as follows:

Career/technical education teachers, postsecondary 124,100
Career/technical education teachers, secondary school 73,800
Career/technical education teachers, middle school 11,800

The largest employers of career and technical education teachers were as follows:

Junior colleges; state, local, and private 24%
Technical and trade schools; state, local, and private 22
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private 6

Career and technical education teachers typically work in middle, high, and postsecondary schools, such as 2-year colleges. Others work in technical, trade, and business schools.

Work Schedules

Career and technical education teachers in middle and high schools generally work during school hours. They may meet with parents, students, and school staff before and after classes.

Some career and technical education teachers, especially those in postsecondary schools, teach courses and develop lesson plans during evening hours and on weekends.

Teachers usually work the traditional 10-month school year and have a 2-month break during the summer. They also have a short midwinter break. Some teachers work for summer programs.

Teachers in districts with a year-round schedule typically work 9 weeks in a row and then have a break for 3 weeks before starting a new school session.

How to Become a Career or Technical Education Teacher About this section

Career and technical education teachers
Teachers need years of experience in their field of expertise.

Career and technical education teachers typically must have at least a bachelor’s degree. They also need work experience in the subject they teach. Public schools may require a state-issued teaching certification or license.

Education

Career and technical education teachers generally need a bachelor’s degree in the field they teach, such as agriculture, engineering, or computer science.

All states require prospective career and technical education teachers in public schools to complete a period of fieldwork, called a student-teaching program, in which they work with a mentor teacher and get experience teaching students in a classroom. For information about teacher preparation programs in your state, visit Teach.org.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Many career and technical education teachers need work experience in the field they teach. For example, automotive mechanics, chefs, and nurses typically spend years in their career before moving into teaching.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

States may require career and technical education teachers in public schools to be licensed or certified. Requirements for certification or licensure vary by state, but generally involve the following:

  • A bachelor’s degree with a minimum grade point average
  • Completion of a student-teaching program
  • Passing a background check
  • Passing a general teaching certification test, as well as a test that demonstrates their knowledge of the subject they will teach.

For information on certification requirements in your state, visit Teach.org.

Career and technical education teachers who prepare students for an occupation that requires a license or certification may need to have and maintain the same credential. For example, career and technical education teachers who teach welding may need to have certification in welding. In addition, teachers may be required to complete annual professional development courses to maintain their license or certification.

Some states offer an alternative route to certification or licensure for prospective teachers who have a bachelor’s degree or work experience in their field but lack the education courses required for certification. Alternative programs typically cover teaching methods, development of lesson plans, and classroom management.

Advancement

Experienced teachers may advance to become mentors or lead teachers, helping less experienced teachers to improve their teaching skills.

Teachers may become school counselors, instructional coordinators, or principals. These positions generally require additional education, an advanced degree, or certification. An advanced degree in education administration or leadership may be helpful.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Career and technical education teachers must explain concepts in terms that students can understand.

Organizational skills. Career and technical education teachers must coordinate their time and teaching materials.

Patience. Working with students of different abilities and backgrounds can be difficult. Teachers must be even-tempered with students to develop a positive learning environment.

Resourcefulness. Teachers need to create different ways of presenting information and demonstrating tasks so that all students learn the material.

Pay About this section

Career and Technical Education Teachers

Median annual wages, May 2020

Career and technical education teachers

$59,140

Educational instruction and library occupations

$52,380

Total, all occupations

$41,950

 

The median annual wage for career and technical education teachers was $59,140 in May 2020. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $36,700, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $98,760.

Median annual wages for career and technical education teachers in May 2020 were as follows:

Career/technical education teachers, secondary school $62,460
Career/technical education teachers, middle school 62,270
Career/technical education teachers, postsecondary 55,620

In May 2020, the median annual wages for career and technical education teachers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private $59,350
Junior colleges; state, local, and private 58,520
Technical and trade schools; state, local, and private 52,650

Career and technical education teachers in middle and high schools generally work during school hours. They may meet with parents, students, and school staff before and after classes.

Some career and technical education teachers, especially those in postsecondary schools, teach courses and develop lesson plans during evening hours and on weekends.

Teachers usually work the traditional 10-month school year and have a 2-month break during the summer. They also have a short midwinter break. Some teachers work for summer programs.

Teachers in districts with a year-round schedule typically work 9 weeks in a row and then have a break for 3 weeks before starting a new school session.

Job Outlook About this section

Career and Technical Education Teachers

Percent change in employment, projected 2019-29

Educational instruction and library occupations

5%

Total, all occupations

4%

Career and technical education teachers

2%

 

Overall employment of career and technical education teachers is projected to grow 2 percent from 2019 to 2029, slower than the average for all occupations.

Some employment growth across all types of institutions is expected over the next 10 years due to continued demand for career and technical education programs in middle schools, high schools, and postsecondary institutions. However, this growth is expected to be reduced somewhat as schools continue to require students to take more academic classes.

In addition, public schools often depend on government funding for career and technical education programs. When budgets for these programs are reduced, employment growth for career and technical education teachers may be limited.

Job Prospects

Despite limited employment growth, about 15,100 openings for career and technical education teachers are projected each year, on average, over the decade.

Most of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Teachers with work experience and certifications in the subject they teach should have the best job prospects.

Job opportunities also may be better in some specialties, particularly at the postsecondary level, than in others. For example, job opportunities are expected to be good for those with experience in healthcare support occupations who can teach skills for work as medical or dental assistants.

Employment projections data for career and technical education teachers, 2019-29
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2019 Projected Employment, 2029 Change, 2019-29 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Career and technical education teachers

209,700 213,100 2 3,400

Career/technical education teachers, postsecondary

25-1194 124,100 125,500 1 1,300 Get data

Career/technical education teachers, middle school

25-2023 11,800 12,100 3 400 Get data

Career/technical education teachers, secondary school

25-2032 73,800 75,500 2 1,700 Get data

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more information about career and technical education teachers, visit

Association for Career and Technical Education

Advance CTE

For more information about teaching and becoming a teacher, visit

Teach.org

O*NET

Career/Technical Education Teachers, Middle School

Career/Technical Education Teachers, Postsecondary

Career/Technical Education Teachers, Secondary School

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