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What Does a Vocational Instructor Do?

Nick Mann
Nick Mann

A vocational instructor is a person who teaches students specific skills or a trade such as auto body repair, welding, and heating and cooling. These individuals are post-secondary teachers and often work in community colleges that offer two year degrees. Being successful in this career typically requires a person with excellent communication skills and the ability to build rapport with students and faculty members. Generally speaking, it takes a minimum of a bachelor's degree to become a vocational instructor, but a master's degree is ideal. Some common job duties of this position include developing course outlines, preparing lessons, teaching students, evaluating student performance and maintaining classroom supplies.

Prior to the start of each semester, a vocational instructor will usually develop a course outline. This outline might cover the curriculum, course materials, instructor expectations, the grading system and any other relevant information. Depending upon the subject, an outline may also list any additional materials that a student must obtain. For example, if an instructor is teaching heating and cooling, students may need to purchase certain tools. Basically, a course outline is designed to provide a reference point for students.

Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

Another integral responsibility of a vocational instructor is preparing lessons. To provide students with the best education possible, daily lesson plans are normally prepared well in advance. This can include choosing which chapters in a text book to go over, lab assignments and homework assignments. Consequently, it's beneficial for a vocational instructor to be well organized and cover materials sequentially so students can build upon knowledge.

Perhaps the most important part of this position is actually teaching students. In many vocational institutions, this includes both lectures and lab work. Unlike many four year schools, these students will often spend a considerable amount of time working hands on. For example, a vocational instructor teaching auto body repair is likely to focus primarily on working on cars and spend a minimal amount of time studying textbooks.

A vocational instructor will also be responsible for evaluating student performance. Determining how well or poorly a student is performing is usually accomplished through testing and grading. If a student isn't meeting expectations, an individual might provide one-on-one tutoring.

In addition, it's important for an instructor to maintain classroom supplies. Unlike traditional institutions, many vocational courses require a considerable amount of tools and equipment to adequately teach students; for example, a welding course may require gas tanks, safety gear and cuttings tools. It's the job of a vocational instructor to monitor supply quantities and ordering new items when necessary.

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