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Life Skills Instructor: Employment Options and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a life skills instructor. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties, and career and salary information to find out if this is the career for you.

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Life skills instructors work in various settings, including schools, therapy facilities, treatment centers, or even correctional institutions. They work one-on-one or in group settings, with clients of any age. The required education depends on the employer, but most prefer at least a bachelor's degree and work experience.

Essential Information

Life skills instructors teach clients how to manage everyday tasks to help them gain independence and move forward in life. Life skills instructors work one-on-one or in small groups to help students or clients with unique challenges develop basic life skills, such as cooking, hygiene, and money skills. The instructor must demonstrate knowledge in the area of instruction, although a specific degree in the area of instruction is not always required. A bachelor's degree is often required for most jobs, but higher-level degrees and professional experience are more favorable to employers.

Required Education College degree
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6% for special education teachers; 15% for self-enrichment education teachers
Median Annual Salary (2015)* $53,920 for special education teachers; $36,680 for self-enrichment education teachers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Requirements

Life skills instructors, also called life skills coaches, may work with individuals of any age. The skills they teach will depend on the age and circumstances of the client. Requirements vary by state, depending on the place of employment. School districts may require a teaching credential for the appropriate grade level. Different credentials may be required for each age group, and requirements may vary depending on the position. For example, if the job includes driving clients then a driver's license and a clean driving record are required.

Life skills instructors prepare evaluations and progress reports. Due to this, good written communication and patience are essential in this position. Computer knowledge is also important for the administration portion of the job.

A high school diploma or GED is required to enter this career, though an associate's or bachelor's degree may be required for some positions. Additional hands-on experience working with a specific population is often desired by employers. For example, a life skills instructor who wishes to work with special needs children should have hands-on training or experience working in this area.

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Employment Options for Life Skills Instructors

Life skills coaches can find jobs in many different industries and settings and can be employed by schools or school districts, service providers, therapy agencies, or group housing management companies. Others may be hired by private companies or charities. Life skills instructors also work in prisons, helping inmates who are nearing their release dates to learn the skills they will need to manage day-to-day living on their own. Treatment centers also hire life skills coaches to work with patients. Some life skills instructors are hired to work with specific populations, such as at-risk youth or disabled senior citizens.

Salary Info and Job Outlook

Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) does not provide information specific to life skills instructors, it does publish data pertinent to both special education teachers and self-enrichment teachers. The BLS predicts that the employment of special education instructors will likely grow by 6% between 2014 and 2024, while job opportunities afforded to self-enrichment teachers will grow by about 15% during the same time frame. Special education teachers were reported to have earned a median salary of $53,920 in May 2015 by the BLS; the same source indicated that self-enrichment teachers earned a median of $36,680 a year.

Life skills instructors coach people on the fundamentals of day-to-day living, and work in a number of areas, including education, government, or healthcare. A college degree is often a requirement in this field, as are strong communication and computer skills. Job opportunities for special education and self-enrichment instructors are predicted to grow between 6% and 15% from 2014 through 2024.

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