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Vocational Teacher Certification and Degree Program Information

Vocational teaching is a viable career option for people having experience in a particular industry. Bachelor's and master's degree programs for vocational teachers are available at schools in a number of states.

Essential Information

Vocational teaching programs emphasize the fundamentals of occupational education as well as educational technology. Vocational teachers who want to work in middle and high schools must earn state licensure, which requires the completion of a bachelor's degree and a student teaching practicum. In some states, experienced individuals who have not completed relevant degree programs opt for certification instead. They must pass an examination qualifying them for the credential.

A stated number of years of work experience has a higher priority than academic credentials in vocational teacher programs. However, admission to a bachelor's degree program at a minimum does require a high school diploma or GED. Applicants to a master's degree program need to have earned a bachelor's degree, preferably in a recognized applied science or vocational education subject.


Vocational Teacher Bachelor's Degree

A vocational teacher bachelor's degree program provides training in education concepts and methods to professionals with extensive work experience in a specific trade or occupational category. The agricultural, automotive, construction, graphic design, health services, HVAC, law enforcement, and manufacturing industries are among those that are referenced in a program. Programs usually take about four years to complete, including student teaching practicums that can take up to two years.

To earn a bachelor's degree, it is necessary to fulfill general education requirements in liberal arts subjects. Some programs give slightly more emphasis to math and science courses. The following are among a program's education-related courses:

  • Educational psychology
  • Occupational education fundamentals
  • Adult education fundamentals
  • Teaching special needs students
  • Education technology and instructional media
  • Cultural and ethnic diversity

Vocational Teacher Master's Degree

In master's degree programs, aspiring teachers are trained to help their students develop job skills. Other areas of emphasis include educational industry trends, labor policy, and current legislation on work force education. Curriculum development, teaching methods, and education program administration are also among the topics covered. Some programs allow degree candidates to choose a concentration, such as a school leadership track or an instruction track. It is important to note that some schools refer to their vocational teacher programs as career and technical education programs. Most programs usually take two years to complete.

The structure of a master's degree program in vocational teaching includes a core set of teacher preparation and education theory courses supplemented by electives addressing the practicalities of leading a class. Possible courses include:

  • Education research
  • Education leadership
  • Vocational education principles and trends
  • Curriculum development
  • Statistics and outcome measurement

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

Earning a vocational teacher bachelor's degree qualifies graduates to become vocational teachers, also called career technology teachers or career and technical education teachers. Middle schools, high schools, industrial training centers, community colleges and prisons are among the field of potential employers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), employment of career and technical education teachers is projected to increase 4% for those teaching middle school and high school from 2014-2024. Growth in school enrollment will be the main driver of growth in employment. As of May 2015, middle school career/technical teachers earned a median salary of $55,190, and high school career/technical teachers earned a median salary of $56,130.

Continuing Education Information

Like general education teachers, middle school and high school vocational teachers need a state license to work in the public school system. Whether for general education teachers or vocational teachers, licensure typically entails earning a bachelor's degree, completing a teacher education program, accumulating supervised classroom teaching experience and passing a competency exam.

However, many states have provisions that allow for certification of vocational teachers who haven't gone through a traditional degree program for educators. Passage of an exam, proof of experience and competency in a given subject area and periodic completion of refresher courses are often requirements for certification, although the number of years of experience may vary from state to state.

Popular Career Options

While there is a vast range of vocational subjects taught in public and private schools, they generally fall into a limited number of categories. Common categories served by vocational teachers include:

  • Agricultural science
  • Family and consumer science
  • Business and marketing
  • Trades and industry

Experienced professionals who wish to educate others for work in a particular industry can become vocational teachers. To prepare for this job, they can complete relevant bachelor's or master's degree programs.

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