Vocational-Technical School Instructor

CAREER PROFILE
Duties: Provide instruction to secondary and postsecondary students for all types of automotive-related jobs, such as auto mechanic, auto upholsterer, welder, auto body repairer, or customizer
Alternate Title(s): Vocational-Technical Teacher
Salary Range: $24,960 to $68,530+
Employment Prospects: Excellent
Advancement Prospects: Excellent
Best Geographical Location(s): All parts of the country should have openings for good Vocational-Technical School Instructors, but fast-growing states of California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Arizona should be especially good
Prerequisites:
Education or Training--High school diploma (associate's degree helpful but not required)
Experience--At least three years of professional experience as an auto technician
Special Skills and Personality Traits--Good communication skills; ability to motivate and relate well to students; patience; independence

CAREER LADDER
Vocational-Technical School Director
Vocational-Technical School Instructor
Vocational-Technical School Assistant

Position Description
Postsecondary Vocational-Technical School Instructors provide instruction for all types of automotive-related jobs, such as auto mechanic, auto upholsterer, welder, auto body repairer or customizer, and so on. Classes are often taught in an industrial setting where students are given hands-on experience. For example, welding instructors show students various welding techniques, watch them use tools and equipment, and have them repeat procedures until they meet specific standards.      
Increasingly, postsecondary Vocational-Technical School Instructors are integrating academic and vocational curriculums so students obtain a variety of skills that can be applied to the real world. Postsecondary Vocational-Technical School Instructors must prepare lessons, grade papers, attend faculty meetings, and keep abreast of technical developments in the automotive field. Vocational-technical schools also are playing a greater role in students' transition from school to work by helping establish internships and by providing information about prospective employers.       
Postsecondary Vocational-Technical School Instructors are employed by schools and automotive institutes that specialize in training people in a specific field, such as welding or auto repair. They also work for state and local governments and job training facilities.       
Postsecondary Vocational-Technical School Instructors usually have flexible schedules, although they must be present for classes (usually 12 to 16 hours a week) and for faculty and committee meetings. Otherwise, instructors are free to decide when and where they will work, and how much time to devote to course preparation, grading, and other activities. Some vocational instructors teach night and weekend classes. Most vocational institutions require instructors to work nine months of the year.       
Vocational auto repair teachers who work at the secondary school level help students evaluate their abilities, talents, and interests so that the student can develop realistic academic and automotive career options. Vocational high school teachers also can advise on trade, technical school, and apprenticeship programs.

Salaries
Earnings for Vocational-Technical School Instructors vary widely by subject, academic credentials, experience, and region of the country. Part-time instructors usually receive few benefits.      
Average annual earnings of Vocational-Technical School Instructors are about $44,367, ranging from a low of less than $24,960 to a high of more than $68,530. Earnings vary according to rank and type of institution and geographic area. Most faculty members also earn money in addition to their base salary, from consulting, teaching other courses, or fixing cars on the side. Part-time faculty usually have fewer benefits than do full-time faculty.

Employment Prospects
Job prospects will continue to improve in the automotive training field, which offers attractive nonacademic job opportunities and attracts fewer applicants for academic positions, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The job outlook for postsecondary teachers should be much brighter than it has been in recent years. Employment is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations through 2012.      
Projected growth in vocational school enrollment over the next decade stems largely from the expected increase in the population of 18- to 24-year-olds. Adults returning to college and an increase in foreign-born students also will add to the number of students, particularly in the fastest growing states of California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Arizona. Because many of the students will be from minority groups, demand for minority teachers will be high.      
Welfare-to-work policies and the growing need to regularly update skills will continue to create new opportunities for vocational-technical teachers, particularly at community colleges and vo-tech schools. There also is expected to be a large number of openings due to the retirements of faculty who were hired in the late '60s and '70s to teach the baby boomers.      
Vocational-Technical School Instructors are in short supply, and distance learning, particularly over the Internet, is expected to create a number of new jobs. Those in rural areas and with family responsibilities are embracing distance education as a way to get the education they want, while minimizing the commute to a campus. In addition, employers are expected to use distance learning as a way to update their employees' skills. The U.S. Army has recently announced plans to offer distance learning to its troops. Increasing demand for distance education will result in the need for more teachers of online classes.

Advancement Prospects
For most types of Vocational-Technical School Instructors, advancement involves a move into administrative and managerial positions, such as departmental chair or director of the vocational institute.

Education and Training
Requirements for postsecondary Vocational-Technical School Instructors include work experience and formal education ranging from a license or certificate to a college degree. Training requirements for postsecondary Vocational-Technical School Instructors vary by state and by automotive subject. In general, teachers need a bachelor's degree or higher, plus work or other experience in their field. In some fields, a license or certificate (such as ASE master mechanic status) that demonstrates solid qualifications may be all that is required. Teachers update their skills through continuing education to maintain certification. They must also maintain ongoing dialogue with businesses to determine the most current skills needed in the workplace.      
Vocational instructors in secondary schools normally need work or other experience in their field and a license or certificate for full professional status. Most states require secondary school vocational instructors to have a bachelor's degree, and some states also require teacher certification.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits
Vocational-Technical School Instructors should be able to communicate ideas well, motivate, and relate well to students. They should have inquiring and analytical minds and a strong desire to pursue and disseminate knowledge, while being motivated and able to work in an environment where they receive little direct supervision.

Unions and Associations
Vocational-Technical School Instructors may belong to a teachers' union, such as the American Federation of Teachers (www.aft.org).

Tips for Entry
1. For information on postsecondary vocational-technical school teaching positions, contact the department of vocational-technical education in your state.
2. General information on adult and vocational education is available from the Association for Career and Technical Education, 1410 King Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314 or online at www.acteonline.org.
3. Check the ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, Career, and Vocational Education, 1900 Kenny Road, Columbus, Ohio 43210.
4. Contact local school districts and vocational schools in the areas where you would like to work to check for open positions. Send your résumé for the school district to keep on file in case openings occur mid-year.
5. Check the classified ads for ''help wanted: professional.''

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