Are you interested in getting a degree to teach technical skills at the middle or high school level? Do you have a background in computers or the trades and now want to teach? If so, read on to explore a career as a technical education teacher.
Technical teachers at the middle school and high school levels teach within the field of career and technical education (CTE). Most students are required to take some level of technical education, which can be completed by taking courses in computer programming, woodworking, small engine repair, CAD or a host of other skills-based curriculum. CTE teachers often have experience working in these fields and provide college and career advice to students who choose to pursue these types of jobs.
Teaching in general requires patience and perseverance, along with excellent communication and interpersonal skills. You would plan and implement lessons, assess student progress, communicate with parents and administration and arrange internships and other work opportunities for your students. High school CTE teachers coordinate their programs with local vocational college courses, so you would be liaising with educational coordinators at the college level.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that in 2008 CTE teachers held 115,100 teaching jobs in the U.S. (www.bls.gov). Middle schools employed 15,600 CTE teachers, and the rest worked at the high school level. In May 2010, the BLS reported that the median salary of a middle school CTE teacher was $51,470 and the median salary of a high school CTE teacher was $54,310. They projected job growth between 2008 and 2018 to be 3% for middle school teachers and 10% for high school teachers.
In order to teach, you may choose to earn a bachelor's degree in technical and industrial arts education or computer science education, which would prepare you to be certified to teach grades 5-12. You would take teaching coursework in educational psychology, teaching methods and the history of vocational education. An industrial arts degree program would include coursework in technical skills classes, such as woodworking, small engine repair and electronics. A computer science degree program would involve coursework in algorithms and data structures, applications and programming languages. All states require you to complete a student teaching practicum and pass a skills exam in order to get your teaching certification.
If you have work experience, you could also become a technical teacher by getting a job in a school system and then earning a teaching certificate. Requirements vary by state, but you will typically need to show proof of 2-6 years of recent experience in the technical trades. If you have an associate's or a bachelor's degree in the technical trade, the experience requirement may be lower. A teacher certification program would give you the education training you'll need, with courses such as technology in the classroom, teaching methods, technical education and vocational instruction for special needs students.
Teachers are required to complete continuing education in order to maintain certification. Many teachers earn master's degrees in education, and teacher salaries typically increase with each 15-hour increment of education earned. A doctoral degree in technical education would prepare you to lead your department or teach at the college level.