Career and technical education (CTE) teachers provide training in subjects such as auto repair, cosmetology, and culinary arts. They teach vocational and technical content to give students the skills and knowledge necessary to enter an occupation.

Duties

Career and technical education teachers typically do the following:

  • Create lesson plans and assignments
  • Instruct students on how to develop certain skills
  • Show students how to apply classroom knowledge through hands-on activities
  • Demonstrate and supervise safe and proper use of tools and equipment
  • Monitor students’ progress, assign tasks, and grade assignments
  • Discuss students’ progress with parents, students, and counselors
  • Develop and enforce classroom rules and safety procedures

CTE teachers help students explore and prepare to enter a career or technical occupation. They use a variety of teaching methods to help students learn and develop skills related to a specific occupation or career field. They demonstrate tasks, techniques, and tools used in an occupation. They may assign hands-on tasks, such as replacing brakes on cars, taking blood pressure, or applying makeup. Teachers typically oversee these activities in workshops and laboratories in the school.

Some teachers work with local businesses and nonprofit organizations to provide practical work experience for students. They also serve as advisers to students participating in career and technical student organizations.

The specific duties of CTE teachers vary by the grade and subject they teach. In middle schools and high schools, they teach general concepts in a classroom and practical exercises in workshops and laboratories.

In postsecondary schools, they teach specific career skills that help students earn a certificate, a diploma, or an associate’s degree and prepare them for a specific job. For example, welding instructors teach students welding techniques and safety practices. They also monitor the use of tools and equipment and have students practice procedures until they meet the standards required by the trade.

In most states, teachers in middle and high schools teach one subject within major career fields. CTE teachers combine academic instruction with experiential learning in their subject of expertise.

For example, teachers of courses in agricultural, food, and natural resources teach topics such as agricultural production; agriculture-related business; veterinary science; and plant, animal, and food systems. They may have students plant and care for crops and animals to apply what they have learned in the classroom.

For information about the programs for major career fields, visit Advance CTE.

Career and technical education teachers held about 214,000 jobs in 2018. Employment in the detailed occupations that make up career and technical education teachers was distributed as follows:

Vocational education teachers, postsecondary 125,600
Career/technical education teachers, secondary school 76,600
Career/technical education teachers, middle school 11,800

The largest employers of career and technical education teachers were as follows:

Junior colleges; state, local, and private 24%
Technical and trade schools; state, local, and private 21
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private 5

Career and technical education teachers typically work in middle, high, and postsecondary schools, such as 2-year colleges. Others work in technical, trade, and business schools.

Work Schedules

Career and technical education teachers in middle and high schools generally work during school hours. They may meet with parents, students, and school staff before and after classes.

Some career and technical education teachers, especially those in postsecondary schools, teach courses and develop lesson plans during evening hours and on weekends.

Teachers usually work the traditional 10-month school year and have a 2-month break during the summer. They also have a short midwinter break. Some teachers work for summer programs.

Teachers in districts with a year-round schedule typically work 9 weeks in a row and then have a break for 3 weeks before starting a new school session.

Career and technical education teachers typically must have at least a bachelor’s degree. They also need work experience in the subject they teach. Public schools may require a state-issued teaching certification or license.

Education

Career and technical education teachers generally need a bachelor’s degree in the field they teach, such as agriculture, engineering, or computer science.

All states require prospective career and technical education teachers in public schools to complete a period of fieldwork, called a student-teaching program, in which they work with a mentor teacher and get experience teaching students in a classroom. For information about teacher preparation programs in your state, visit Teach.org.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Many career and technical education teachers need work experience in the field they teach. For example, automotive mechanics, chefs, and nurses typically spend years in their career before moving into teaching.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

States may require career and technical education teachers in public schools to be licensed or certified. Requirements for certification or licensure vary by state, but generally involve the following:

  • A bachelor’s degree with a minimum grade point average
  • Completion of a student-teaching program
  • Passing a background check
  • Passing a general teaching certification test, as well as a test that demonstrates their knowledge of the subject they will teach.

For information on certification requirements in your state, visit Teach.org.

Career and technical education teachers who prepare students for an occupation that requires a license or certification may need to have and maintain the same credential. For example, career and technical education teachers who teach welding may need to have certification in welding. In addition, teachers may be required to complete annual professional development courses to maintain their license or certification.

Some states offer an alternative route to certification or licensure for prospective teachers who have a bachelor’s degree or work experience in their field but lack the education courses required for certification. Alternative programs typically cover teaching methods, development of lesson plans, and classroom management.

Advancement

Experienced teachers may advance to become mentors or lead teachers, helping less experienced teachers to improve their teaching skills.

Teachers may become school counselors, instructional coordinators, or principals. These positions generally require additional education, an advanced degree, or certification. An advanced degree in education administration or leadership may be helpful.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Career and technical education teachers must explain concepts in terms that students can understand.

Organizational skills. Career and technical education teachers must coordinate their time and teaching materials.

Patience. Working with students of different abilities and backgrounds can be difficult. Teachers must be even-tempered with students to develop a positive learning environment.

Resourcefulness. Teachers need to create different ways of presenting information and demonstrating tasks so that all students learn the material.

The median annual wage for career and technical education teachers was $56,750 in May 2018.

The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $34,980, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $92,640.

Median annual wages for career and technical education teachers in May 2018 were as follows:

Career/technical education teachers, secondary school $60,250
Career/technical education teachers, middle school 59,230
Vocational education teachers, postsecondary 53,120

In May 2018, the median annual wages for career and technical education teachers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private $57,240
Junior colleges; state, local, and private 55,790
Technical and trade schools; state, local, and private 50,230

Career and technical education teachers in middle and high schools generally work during school hours. They may meet with parents, students, and school staff before and after classes.

Some career and technical education teachers, especially those in postsecondary schools, teach courses and develop lesson plans during evening hours and on weekends.

Teachers usually work the traditional 10-month school year and have a 2-month break during the summer. They also have a short midwinter break. Some teachers work for summer programs.

Teachers in districts with a year-round schedule typically work 9 weeks in a row and then have a break for 3 weeks before starting a new school session.

Union Membership

Compared with workers in all occupations, career and technical education teachers have a higher percentage of workers who belong to a union.

Career and Technical Education Teachers

Median annual wages, May 2018

Career and technical education teachers

$56,750

Education, training, and library occupations

$49,700

Total, all occupations

$38,640

 

Overall employment of career and technical education teachers is projected to show little or no change from 2018 to 2028. Employment growth will vary by type of institution. While employment of vocational teachers in postsecondary institutions is projected to decline, employment of career and technical education teachers in middle and high schools is projected to grow slower than the average for all occupations.

Overall demand for these teachers will be driven by a continued demand for programs in middle and high schools and in postsecondary institutions that prepare students for career and technical work.

As middle and high school students continue to be required to take more academic classes and fewer career and technical classes, employment growth of career and education teachers in middle and high schools may be affected.

In addition, public schools depend on government funding for career and technical programs. When budgets for these programs are reduced, employment growth for career and technical teachers may be limited.

Job Prospects

Teachers with work experience and certifications in the subject they teach should have the best job prospects.

Job opportunities also may be better in some specialties, particularly at the postsecondary level, than in others. For example, job opportunities are expected to be good for those with experience in healthcare support occupations who can teach skills for work as medical or dental assistants.

Employment projections data for career and technical education teachers, 2018-28
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2018 Projected Employment, 2028 Change, 2018-28 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Career and technical education teachers

214,000 212,200 -1 -1,800

Vocational education teachers, postsecondary

25-1194 125,600 121,800 -3 -3,800 Get data

Career/technical education teachers, middle school

25-2023 11,800 12,100 3 300 Get data

Career/technical education teachers, secondary school

25-2032 76,600 78,300 2 1,700 Get data

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of career and technical education teachers.

Occupation Job Duties Entry-Level Education Median Annual Pay, May 2018

Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals

Elementary, middle, and high school principals oversee all school operations, including daily school activities.

Master’s degree $95,310

High School Teachers

High school teachers teach academic lessons and various skills that students will need to attend college and to enter the job market.

Bachelor’s degree $60,320

Instructional Coordinators

Instructional coordinators oversee school curriculums and teaching standards. They develop instructional material, implement it, and assess its effectiveness.

Master’s degree $64,450

Middle School Teachers

Middle school teachers educate students, typically in sixth through eighth grades.

Bachelor’s degree $58,600

Postsecondary Teachers

Postsecondary teachers instruct students in a wide variety of academic and technical subjects beyond the high school level.

See How to Become One $78,470

School and Career Counselors

School counselors help students develop the academic and social skills needed to succeed. Career counselors help people choose a path to employment.

Master’s degree $56,310

Special Education Teachers

Special education teachers work with students who have a wide range of learning, mental, emotional, and physical disabilities.

Bachelor’s degree $59,780

Teacher Assistants

Teacher assistants work with a licensed teacher to give students additional attention and instruction.

Some college, no degree $26,970

Adult Literacy and High School Equivalency Diploma Teachers

Adult literacy and high school equivalency diploma teachers instruct adults in basic skills, such as reading and speaking English. They also help students earn their high school equivalent diploma.

Bachelor’s degree $53,630

Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers instruct young students in basic subjects in order to prepare them for future schooling.

Bachelor’s degree $57,980

For more information about career and technical education teachers, visit

Association for Career and Technical Education

Advance CTE

For more information about teaching and becoming a teacher, visit

Teach.org

O*NET

Career/Technical Education Teachers, Middle School

Career/Technical Education Teachers, Secondary School

Vocational Education Teachers, Postsecondary


Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Career and Technical Education Teachers,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/career-and-technical-education-teachers.htm (visited ).