What Is a Technical Instructor?

Explore the career requirements for technical instructors. Get the facts about education and training requirements, job outlook and salary to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Information Technology Education degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Technical Instructor?

A technical instructor is a teacher who offers courses that prepare students for particular careers. Technical instructors use their experience in a particular technical trade to help others gain similar vocational skills in preparation for employment in that field. For instance, they may prepare their students for careers in construction, hospitality, architecture, agriculture or tourism, among other subjects. Jobs for technical instructors are available at middle schools, high schools, vocational schools and colleges. The table below outlines the general requirements for a career as a technical instructor.

Education Required Bachelor's degree
Training Required Training required for some specialties
Key Responsibilities Prepare students to enter a technician trade, design lesson plans, give lectures, test students' knowledge and skills
Licensure Some states and specialties require licensure
Job Growth (2014-2024) 4% (for all career/technical education teachers)*
Median Salary (2015) $55,190 (middle school)*; $56,130 (secondary school)*; $49,470 (postsecondary)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is the Job Description of a Technical Instructor?

A technical instructor, or vocational education teacher, is responsible for preparing students to enter into a technical trade. As a technical instructor, you may work in a middle school, high school, technical school or community college. Jobs may also be available in correctional institutions. Technical instructor positions may be available in fields involving cosmetology, mechanics, baking, nursing support and farming.

The curriculum you teach may be a combination of classroom work and hands-on training. You may design workshops or other activities that allow students to practice what they have learned in class. In some trades, you may prepare students to take a licensing exam once they complete the program. Courses you teach may cover topics like welding, heavy equipment operation, massage techniques or patient care.

Typical teaching duties that are part of your job include testing student's knowledge and skills, tracking student's progress, giving lectures and designing lesson plans. You may teach students about the safety, procedures and tools used in the trade. It is your job to instruct students how to do the job, so upon graduation they are ready to enter into a career.

What Requirements Must I Meet?

Education requirements are typically based on employer and licensing guidelines. It is common to earn a bachelor's degree in your specialty area, if one is offered. However, in many cases, comparable years of experience in the trade may be accepted.

Many states require a teaching license for technical instructors. Some states may only require licensing for those working in a public high school or middle school, and other states offer specific licenses for adult education teachers. You may need specific training as a technical instructor, and a bachelor's degree or experience in the field may qualify for a license.

You may also need a professional license in your field if it's available. For example, if you are teaching a cosmetology program, you may need to be a licensed cosmetologist.

What Is the Job Outlook?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2014, about 231,800 jobs were held by technical instructors (www.bls.gov). Of those, about 79,600 jobs were in secondary schools, and 13,700 were in middle schools. The BLS reported that growth from 2014-2024 for all technical instructors was expected to be 4%.

Job openings, according to the BLS, were most likely due to retirement of current instructors. Although the pay varies, better job opportunities are typically available to those who teach at the postsecondary level in specific specialties like healthcare support.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

As a middle or high school teacher, you could choose to specialize in a non-technical subject, such as history, English, biology or physical education. To work in a public school, you would need to hold a bachelor's degree and pass a licensure exam. Alternatively, if you would prefer to teach adults, you could become an instructor for courses that prepare adults for the high school equivalency exam. In this job, you would cover topics in language arts, math, science and social studies, and you would also help students build the communication and problem-solving skills that are necessary for success in a wide range of careers. The minimum educational requirement for this job is a bachelor's degree.

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