Technical Instructor: Career Options, Duties and Requirements

Technical instructors specialize in a particular field or industry and may work in specific settings. Educational requirements, career options and duties will vary, depending on the teacher's chosen domain.

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A technical instructor teaches specific vocations such as nursing, business, or real estate. These instructors often earn an associate's or bachelor's degree in their subject area, and some instructors complete a career and technical education program, qualifying them to teach subjects like consumer sciences or industrial technology.

Career Options

Technical instructors specialize in fields as varied as information technology, nursing and real estate. They work in diverse settings, such as high schools, tech and vocational schools, adult education and post-secondary institutions. Other areas of technical instruction include allied health, business and industrial training, as well as home economics and technical education in high schools and universities, among others.

Requirements

Aspiring technical instructors typically need a degree in their specialized field in order to be hired. An undergraduate degree at the associate's or bachelor's degree level is usually sufficient, though master's degree and doctoral programs are also available. Career and technical education programs (CTE) tend to be the most relevant programs pursued. Students who complete a CTE program can teach in areas such as family and consumer sciences, industrial technology and secondary education.

A Bachelor of Science in Occupational Education Studies is an articulated CTE program for individuals seeking to become certified teachers in technical schools, trade academies, and comprehensive high school tech and vocational programs.

Depending upon the field in which they teach, technical instructors may need to acquire teacher licensing or certification. A minimum amount of experience working in the field is usually required as well. Licensing and certification requirements vary from state to state. For example, Massachusetts requires 21 coursework credits, along with passing an exam, to become licensed as a vocational-technical instructor.

Duties and Responsibilities

The duties and responsibilities for a technical instructor vary according to his or her chosen field. For example, MRI instructors teach nurses how to operate an MRI machine. IT instructors teach company employees how to use their computers. Other types of instruction can be as varied as driving a fire truck, operating a two-way radio or learning the latest technology in the field of drafting and design, among numerous other possibilities. Whatever the field, technical instructors, in addition to having expertise in their field, should display effective communication skills.

Salary and Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in May 2015, technical education teachers at the high school level earned a median salary of $56,130, while their colleagues teaching in middle schools earned $55,190 in median annual salary. Vocational education teachers at the postsecondary level earned a median of $49,470.

The BLS found that career and technical education teachers in high school and middle school were expected to see 4% employment growth from 2014 to 2024. All postsecondary teachers were predicted to see 13% growth during that same period, the BLS stated.

Technical instructors' job duties vary with the subjects they teach, from driving a fire truck to showing nurses how to use an MRI machine. A postsecondary degree and working experience are typically required, and in some cases they may need to hold a teaching license and/or professional certification. Postsecondary teaching positions are expected to experience faster than average growth over the 2014-2024 decade.

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