A vocational teacher is an educator who works in various settings, and teaches skills for particular occupations or trades. Some of these occupations might include plumbing and heating, auto repair, and cosmetology, for example. He or she might work in a public or private institution, such as a middle school, high school, community college, or independent technical school. A vocational teacher may also offer career advice and other practical assistance to students. The position usually requires a bachelor’s degree, at minimum, as well as completion of a teacher education program. In some cases, however, someone pursuing a teaching position can substitute professional experience for a college degree.
In a middle or secondary school, a vocational teacher may also be called a shop or computer teacher. His or her main role is to expose students to practical skills that can be utilized in their careers and lives later on. Some common examples are culinary arts, computers, and woodworking. Many secondary schools offer only a few vocational classes, in addition to traditional academic subjects, while other schools are created specifically for emphasizing certain vocational or technical skills.
Some of the subjects that a vocational teacher might instruct are heating and air conditioning, plumbing, and automotive skills. Many students are also interested in areas such as landscaping and agriculture. Nutrition and culinary arts are also popular fields, as are cosmetology and hairdressing. In many locations, medical assistants and technicians are in high demand as well. A number of the more specialized programs are taught at community colleges and independent trade schools.
In areas where there are shortages of qualified teachers, a qualified vocational teacher might also teach traditional academic subjects, such as math and science. Often, he or she might also offer career counseling to students. In addition, he or she might act as a mentor to students or help them find an apprenticeship or internship.
To be a vocational teacher in the U.S., a professional license is usually required. Obtaining one typically entails earning a bachelor’s degree in the subject to be taught, as well as completing some form of teacher training. Many professionals seek alternate routes to licensure, however, when they do not have the time or money to dedicate to additional schooling. In recent years, it has become more common for teachers to earn their license by accumulating a certain amount of practical experience in the field.