Industrial Arts Teacher Careers: Job Description & Salary Info

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Learn about an industrial arts teacher's job duties, salary and licensing requirements. Get straight talk about the pros and cons of a career teaching industrial arts.
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Pros and Cons of an Industrial Arts Teaching Career

Industrial arts teachers, also called career and technical education (CTE) teachers, provide a variety of vocational skills to students in middle and high school. Consider the pros and cons of a career in teaching industrial arts to decide if it's right for you.

Pros of a Career as an Industrial Arts Teacher
Above-average pay (average annual salary of about $57,000 as of May 2014)*
May get two months off per year*
Variety of job possibilities teaching auto repair, electrical wiring or technology*
Can be rewarding to prepare students for entering the workforce or choosing a career*

Cons of a Career as an Industrial Arts Teacher
Average job growth (nine percent for all CTE teachers from 2012-2022)*
Might need to discipline problem students*
Often need prior work experience before being able to teach a particular trade*
Job might include contacting students or grading assignments on the weekends and evenings*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Essential Career Info

Job Description

Industrial arts teachers provide instruction on a variety of subjects, including wood and metal working, air conditioning systems and small engine repair. With a background in computers, you might also teach computer-aided design (CAD), graphic design, computer repair or computer programming classes. You would be responsible for lesson preparation and usually must provide a series of hands-on learning experiences. You also must manage your classroom, communicate with parents, grade projects and provide career advice for students if they're looking to work in the trades.

If you work as part of a CTE team of teachers, you'll likely work together to design compatible curriculum. High school industrial arts teachers may be required to coordinate with local colleges to ensure compatibility between high school and vocational college programs. You may also work with local companies in order to set up apprenticeship, work-study or summer intern programs for your students.

Salary and Job Prospects

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), CTE teachers at both the middle and high school levels earned average salaries of about $57,000 as of May 2014 (www.bls.gov). The BLS projected only a five percent growth in employment for high school industrial teachers and a five percent growth at the middle school level between 2012 and 2022. This was due in part to schools' increased emphasis on core, non-vocational subjects like math and science. In general, teaching jobs are expected to be more plentiful in the South and West regions of the country.

What Are the Career Requirements?

Education and Licensing Requirements

According to the BLS, all teachers at public schools need to be licensed (sometimes known as certified). You can begin working as a teacher with a provisional license if you have a bachelor's degree or if you have significant verifiable work experience related to the subject you're seeking to teach. For a regular license, you must typically major in a subject related to your field, such as computer science.

You can earn a bachelor's degree in industrial arts education, although these programs are not widely available. You would take coursework in industrial arts, teaching methodology, student assessments, psychology and child development. Before earning your teaching license, you need to complete a student teaching practicum and pass a basic skills exam as required by your state. Once you're licensed, you need to meet continuing education requirements to maintain your status. In some cases, the bachelor's degree requirement for licensure may be waived for those teachers who have significant experience in their trade.

Top Skills for Industrial Arts Teachers

Teachers must be able to communicate clearly with their students. You should be able to work and collaborate with a variety of individuals. You'll need to be highly organized and creative to prepare unique lesson plans and activities. Since this teaching field is based on hands-on activities, you need to monitor students closely and provide helpful, step-by-step demonstrations. You also must remain calm when working with difficult students and parents.

What Employers Are Looking For

Job ads for teachers requested either teacher certification or provisional certification in the state where the job was being advertised. Additionally, employers often looked for applicants with effective communications skills and curriculum development experience. Here is a sampling of job postings that were advertised in May 2012.

  • A California trade school for grades 7-12 wanted a combined math/science and industrial arts teacher. The industrial arts portion of the job included curriculum development and implementation for classes of 20 students. California credentials for teaching industrial arts or vocational education were requested.
  • A Nevada high school district posted a job opening for a full-time industrial arts teacher. Responsibilities included lesson preparation, student assessments and communication with parents. The employer requested that applicants have a bachelor's degree, three years of experience and a Nevada teaching certificate (or the ability to earn one).
  • A Utah high school sought an automotive teacher who could motivate students, develop effective staff relations and establish a good foundation for further education. Candidates needed to develop and adapt curriculum plans, use computers to support student instruction and work under the direction of the principal. Applicants must have a CTE license with an automotive services technology endorsement.
  • An Illinois high school listed an opening for a part-time industrial technology teacher in wood and technology production. This was a job with potential for full-time employment. Candidates with a provisional teaching license were allowed to apply.

How to Stand Out in the Field

Industrial arts teachers who are qualified to teach a variety of different subjects might have an easier time finding jobs. This applies both within the field of industrial arts, but more especially to the related fields of math and computer science. Those individuals who can also teach traditional subjects, in addition to vocational or industrial arts subjects, should see better job prospects, according to the BLS.

Another option to help you stand out among job applicants is to obtain a graduate-level industrial arts education degree. Having a graduate degree might enable you to lead a department and shows your commitment to pursuing continuing education in your field. Coursework in a master's degree program usually includes topics in educational research, recent trends in technology education and lab planning for industrial/technical education. This degree program might also enable you to teach at the community college level.

Alternative Career Paths

Vocational Counselor

If the counseling aspect of teaching is most attractive to you, working as a vocational counselor may be a good path to pursue. This job generally requires a master's degree and licensure, depending on where you work. As a counselor, you'd meet with students and advise them about educational paths, classroom issues or academic goals. Depending on your educational focus, you may also work with them to overcome detrimental habits or work around difficult family situations. Jobs in this profession were projected to grow at an average rate of 19% from 2010-2020, reported the BLS. Vocational counselors earned a median salary of around $54,000 as of May 2011.

Construction Manager

If you have experience in the trades, but teaching isn't appealing to you, you might look into managing construction sites. For this job, you would coordinate and oversee the different workers who construct buildings of varying types. You need experience in construction and possibly a bachelor's degree in construction science or management to enter this line of work. The BLS projected that the field would grow about as fast as average and reported that construction managers earned a median salary of about $84,000 annually as of May 2011.

Postsecondary Vocational Teacher

Teaching a vocation at the postsecondary level is also a good option for career and technical teachers who wish to advance. Working for a vocational college doesn't necessarily require graduate education, and in some cases, experience may be valued over education. According to the BLS, postsecondary vocational teachers earned a median wage of about $49,000 annually as of May 2011. Postsecondary teaching jobs were predicted to grow 17% from 2010-2020. Part-time and adjunct teaching jobs were expected to be the most common positions available.

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Purdue University

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