How can I become a Teacher at a Trade School?

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Dear Guidance Counselor,

Can you give me some information about becoming a teacher for adult students at a trade school?

I'm not happy in my current position and am thinking about changing careers. It's important to me to find work that I enjoy. I am very good with my hands and love fixing and repairing things around my house. The problem is, this has only been a hobby of mine and I am not sure how to turn it into a teaching occupation. I think I would enjoy working with students and teaching classes in a trade and industry field like electrical wiring, computer repair, or heating and air conditioning. Where do I start?

Thank you,



Dear Martin,

I applaud you for your pursuit to find an occupation you enjoy. Many people resist change and will often stick with a job even if they are unhappy. While this type of change can be a lot of effort, the outcome is often worth the time and energy. Having a career you love can be very rewarding. Let's see if we can get you headed in that direction.


Career and technical education (CTE) teachers, or vocational teachers, are typically responsible for getting students ready to join the workforce and perform a job in a specific field. Vocational teachers often work with adult learners or students at the high school level and may be required to coordinate their curriculum with that of colleges, universities or technical schools.

Required Education and Training for Career and Technical Education Teachers

How can you become a teacher at a trade school? The traditional way is to enroll in a degree program at a college, university or online school and earn a bachelor's degree. I recommend selecting your major based on the field you wish to teach and also completing a teacher education program.

Another option is majoring in a general education program and minoring in the field you would like to teach. It will also be necessary to obtain a teaching license to become a teacher at a trade school. Steps to getting a license often include a earning a bachelor's degree, classroom observation hours, supervised student teaching experience and passing a basic skills test or a competency test in your specific area of education. In recent years many states have begun to recognize work experience in the field and may allow candidates to teach without having completed a teacher preparation program, if they have a considerable amount of on-the-job experience.

Job Outlook and Salary Information for CTE Teachers

While there has been a push in recent years for students to attend four-year universities, there is also a growing understanding that a traditional, liberal arts education is not for everyone. As these students seek out alternate educational paths, CTE instructors will be valuable assets.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of CTE teachers is projected to grow by four percent from 2014-2024. CTE teachers who are properly trained and acquire licensure increase their odds of employment, as well as those teachers who are willing to relocate for a job. Location, education and training can also affect salary. In May 2015, the average annual wages of CTE teachers at the secondary level were $58,170 as reported by the BLS.

I wish you the best as you pursue your new career and train to become a teacher at a trade school.


  • Career/Technical Education Teachers, Secondary School, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2015, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes252032.htm

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