Requirements to Teach Adult Education Programs

Adult education programs generally provide professionals with training for teaching adults at the college or pre-college levels. Continue reading for an overview of the programs, as well as career and salary info for some career options for graduates.

Adult educators programs can cover career skills, discuss self-enrichment topics or help students brush up on basic academic skills as they prepare for the GED exam. Requirements for adult education teachers vary, depending on the circumstances, but usually require at least a bachelor's degree and teaching or industry experience.

Essential Information

Adult education programs are designed to provide instruction on how to educate adult learners. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), adult educators may teach students about vocational or technical fields, or they may teach students who lack basic education skills, such as those trying to earn high school equivalency diplomas. To get employed in these teaching fields, most employers require applicants to hold the minimum of bachelor's degrees, although the BLS indicates that there is preference given to applicants who hold master's degrees and who have previous teaching experience. The BLS reports that some states do have teaching certification requirements for adult educators, but these vary by state.

Career Titles Adult Basic Education Teachers Vocational or Technical Teachers
Education Requirements Bachelor's degree minimum, master's degree recommended Bachelor's degree and industry experience
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 7% (for adult basic and secondary education and literacy teachers and instructors)* 4% (for career/technical education teachers and vocational postsecondary teachers)*
Average Salary (2015) $54,060 (for adult basic and secondary education and literacy teachers and instructors)* $54,260 (for vocational postsecondary teachers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Job Descriptions

Adult Literacy and High School Equivalency Diploma Teachers

Adult education teachers may provide instruction in English, math, writing and reading. The BLS divides adult education into three categories: English as a second language (ESL), adult basic education and adult secondary education. ESL teachers teach students how to write, read, listen and speak in English. Adult basic education teachers instruct adults whose skills fall below an eighth grade level in the basic areas of science, writing, reading, history, languages or mathematics. Adult secondary education teachers prepare students for General Educational Development (GED) reading and writing exams.

There are also many adult education teachers who focus on self-enrichment courses in areas such as cooking, fitness, personal finance and art. By focusing on business and communication skills, adult education teachers also help students improve their job opportunities. Employment settings for adult education teachers may include prisons, university extension programs, government agencies, adult high schools, social service organizations, community colleges, religious organizations and job training facilities.

Job opportunities for adult literacy educators as well as high school equivalency diploma teachers are expected to grow by 7% between 2014 and 2024, per the BLS. BLS statistics from May 2015 indicated that the average annual salary for adult basic and secondary education and literacy teachers and instructors was $54,060.

Career or Technical Education Teacher

These professionals provide focused educational training in various career or technical fields. Per the BLS, career or technical education teachers give in-class lectures and instruct students through hands-on training activities. Many of these educators have recent professional experience, so they provide students with a real-world education based on current trends in the industry. Some of the most common career or technical education fields include culinary arts, computers, healthcare, legal careers, agriculture, construction, and hospitality.

During the decade between 2014 and 2024, the BLS predicts that career opportunities for career or technical educators will grow by 4%. At the postsecondary level, the BLS reports that open positions for vocational educators will grow by 7% during the same decade. BLS records from 2015 indicated that vocation educational teachers at the postsecondary level earned average annual salaries of $54,260.

Aspiring adult educators can expect a bachelor's or master's degree and experience to give them an edge. Some positions may require a state teaching certification. Salaries are modest, and projected job growth is slow to average.


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