Become an Adult Education Instructor: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Learn how to become an adult education instructor. Research the education requirements, volunteer opportunities and licensure you will need to start a career in adult education instruction.

Steps to Becoming an Adult Education Instructor

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Completing a bachelor's degree program is the first necessary step in becoming an adult education instructor. Grades may factor into some state licensing processes, so committing to coursework can be important even at this early stage. Additionally, courses that develop a student's understanding of educational theory and philosophy may be helpful, as positions often require teachers to be up-to-date on adult instructional models.

Step 2: Gain Experience Working as a Volunteer

Not all adult education instructors are paid professionals. Many people volunteer their time to share education with adults who are in need of it. For this reason, individuals can build up their experience an adult education instructor by volunteering in unpaid positions. The three areas of expertise, as determined by the federal government, are adult basic education (ABE), adult secondary education (ASE) and English literacy instruction (ESL or EFL). Community-based organizations may be funded locally, through their states, or with grants that are paid indirectly by the federal government.

Step 3: Undergo State Licensing Procedure

Especially for government-run, government-funded programs or public school-associated programs that may be subject to government oversight, adult education teachers may find it necessary to undergo a state licensing process. This process involves certification, and may have such requirements as a bachelor's degree with a minimum specific GPA.

Requirements vary between states, and licensing is not a requirement in all states, so teachers should look to their local government education departments for guidance. In some states, these teaching licenses are not the same as those for public school teachers, though they may come from the same departments. In other states, normal state licensing requirements for teachers are applied. In those cases, the licensing requirements are generally a bachelor's degree and completion of a teacher training program.

Step 4: Find Work as a Teacher

Adult education teachers can find employment in a number of environments, such as at a local school, through a community outreach center or other non-profit, within a community college or for a private company. Different organizations may have different requirements, based on both their needs and institutional requirements that all teachers must meet.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that, between 2010 and 2020, job positions for adult literacy and GED teachers will increase by 15%, about as fast as the national average for all jobs. According to, the median annual salary for adult education teachers as of December 2013 was $40,343.

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