How Do I Become a Computer Instructor?

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue as a computer instructor. Read on to learn more about career options along with education and salary information. Schools offering Information Technology Education degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Computer Instructor?

Computer instructors teach computing skills to students at all levels, from elementary school through college. They also work as private computer tutors, helping children or adults develop their technology-related skills. High school teachers may have additional responsibilities, such as supervising students during free-time and communicating with parents. Career and technical teachers that specialize in teaching computer skills may prepare students for very specific technology jobs. They may teach students about a particular computer program or operating system. Post-secondary teachers in the field of computer science may also be required to conduct original research and oversee the work of graduate students. The table below contains the general requirements for this career in three different fields.

High School Teachers Career/Technical Teachers Post-secondary Teachers
Degree RequiredBachelor's degree for public schools Master's degree Master's degree or doctorate
LicensureTeaching license required by public schools Provisional licensure for those with non-teaching backgrounds May not be required
Job Growth (2014-2024)6% (for high school teachers)*4% (for career and technical teachers)* 13% (for post-secondary teachers)*
Median Salary (2015)$57,200 (for secondary teachers except special and career/technical education)* $56,130 (for career/technical education teachers)* $74,840 (for post-secondary computer science teachers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Types of Jobs Are Available for Computer Instructors?

With computing skills becoming ever more important, you could be a computer instructor at all grade levels and degree levels. For example, you could teach computer technology in elementary school, middle school or high school. If you'd like greater challenges or the opportunity to conduct research, you could become a computer science professor at a college or university.

How Can I Teach at Elementary or Secondary Schools?

If you'd like to become an elementary or secondary school computer instructor, you could pursue a bachelor's degree in computer science education. Alternatively, you could enroll in a bachelor's degree program in teacher education with a minor in computer science education. You could expect to take computer science courses, including courses in programming, data structures and networking, as well as taking teacher education courses that cover teaching methods and developmental psychology.

You'll have to be licensed in order to become a public school teacher. Licensure requirements vary by state; however, most bachelor's degree programs in teacher education will prepare you for licensure in the state where the university is located.

If you already have a bachelor's degree in computer science but haven't completed any teacher education courses, you might be able to pursue alternative licensure. This licensure permits you to become licensed without having to complete a full teacher training program. Alternative licensure programs may permit you to obtain a provisional license and start teaching immediately, while completing education courses in the evening. This is particularly true of fields in which there have been teacher shortages, such as math and science. If you don't want to get licensed, you could consider teaching at private schools, which generally don't have licensure requirements.

How Can I Teach at the College Level?

To become a computer science professor at a college or university, you'll have to earn a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Computer Science. As a doctoral student in computer science, you'll usually be required to complete a number of core computer science courses. In addition, most doctoral programs require you to pass a research area exam or a qualifying exam before beginning your dissertation research. Many programs also require you to serve as a teaching assistant for one or two undergraduate computer science courses. Finally, you'll have to conduct independent research in an area of computer science, such as computational theory, artificial intelligence or bioinformatics and write up your results in a dissertation.

What About the Job Outlook and Salary Potential?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), technical education teachers at the secondary level were earning a median salary of $56,130 in 2015. High school teachers in general had a predicted growth rate of 6%. Computer science teachers at the college level earned an average of $74,840 in 2015. The job growth for post-secondary teachers between 2014 and 2024 was listed as 13%.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Special education teachers hold similar positions and require a bachelor's degree. They adapt lessons to meet the needs of students with learning, behavioral, emotional or physical disabilities. Instructional coordinators and school principals are also similar careers, but require a master's degree. Instructional coordinators help manage school curriculum and train and support teachers as they teach it. School principals may work in elementary, middle or high schools. They ensure that the school is a safe place for students to learn, as well as manage the daily activities of the school. If you're interested in a related computer career, look into becoming a computer support specialist, which is someone who helps computer users with software and equipment issues. A high school diploma may be sufficient for some jobs, but many require an associate's or bachelor's degree.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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