CTE Teacher: Education, Salary, and Outlook
Career and technical education teachers, or CTE teachers, prepare young people and adults for a wide range of careers that demand specialized skills. CTE teachers are employed in middle schools, high schools, community colleges, junior colleges, and trade and business schools. Most CTE teachers work during the day, although some teach weekend or evening classes.
CTE teachers help prepare students for high-tech, high-demand careers in a variety of industries, including information technology, healthcare, finance, STEM, and human services. Career and technical education courses give students hands-on experience with current, real-world technologies and help close the skills gap while providing students with an alternative to college.
At a glance: CTE teacher
Twenty-first-century jobs require 21st-century skills, and CTE teachers help impart those skills to the next generation of workers. Each sector of the workforce, particularly middle- and high-level jobs require moderate to high digital skills. CTE teachers help bridge the gap by providing technical education to young people entering the workforce.
Generally, middle and high school CTE teachers teach one subject within a major career field, combining classroom instruction with hands-on learning experiences. In post-secondary institutions, they teach the specific career skills that students need for a certificate, diploma, or associate’s degree and a job in their field.
The duties of a CTE teacher include:
- Planning and delivering classroom lessons, workshops, and labs
- Creating exams, quizzes, and assignments
- Supervising and facilitating student learning and hands-on practice
- Monitoring student progress
- Sharing information with students, parents, other teachers, and the administration
- Staying apprised of current educational and safety standards for various industries and equipment
- Managing the classroom by enforcing the rules and teaching safety procedures
Who makes a good CTE teacher
CTE teaching may be the right choice for people who are:
- Organized: Staying on top of changing technologies is a job in itself, but a CTE teacher must also maintain an organized classroom, be an effective planner, and attend to a range of administrative tasks including grading, reporting, attending meetings, and ordering supplies.
- Flexible: A good CTE teacher knows that not all students learn the same way. Flexibility enables a CTE teacher to provide students with opportunities to explore the course content in a variety of ways.
- Patient: The abilities of students in a CTE classroom vary. Students learn at different paces, and patience with those who need extra time or help is essential for student success.
- Positive: A safe, respectful, and positive learning environment is crucial for all students, including CTE students. An optimistic attitude in the classroom helps students succeed.
- Energetic: A CTE teacher needs a lot of energy not only to teach students career and technology skills but also to stay on top of changing and emerging technologies and industry trends and bring new knowledge into the classroom.
- Experienced: CTE teachers have work experience in their field, enabling them to provide relevant, real-life instruction to students seeking a technical career.
CTE teacher in-depth
Education requirements for CTE teachers
Candidates for a CTE teacher position must have at least a bachelor’s degree in the field they teach or in a related field. However, more and more employees are looking for higher education training.
CTE teachers also need to have practical work experience in the subjects they teach. How much work experience a CTE teacher needs depends on the teaching job. For example, more experience is required of a teacher working at a post-secondary institution than one working at a middle school. Many CTE teachers have enjoyed a long career in their field and choose to teach as an alternative to retiring.
All states require that CTE teachers in public schools complete a student teaching program through an accredited university. Student teaching provides prospective CTE teachers with teaching, classroom management, and administrative experience as well as the opportunity to find out whether teaching is right for them. CTE teachers in public schools must also pass a background check.
Certification requirements for CTE teachers
Individual states have different requirements for CTE teacher certification. In addition to requiring a bachelor’s degree and a student teaching stint, some states require CTE teachers to pass a general teaching certification test in their area of expertise. Additionally, some states require CTE teachers to carry current credentials in their field.
Alternative certification or licensing programs are offered by some states for prospective CTE teachers who have the degree and work experience requirements they need but not the educational requirements. These programs typically provide instruction on teaching methods, lesson plans, and classroom management.
Once hired, CTE teachers may be required by their state or institution to complete professional development courses to maintain their certification or license.
Average salaries for CTE teachers
The salary range for CTE teachers varies considerably, depending on geographical location, whether the institution is a middle school, high school, or post-secondary institution, and how much education and experience the teacher has.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for CTE teachers in May 2018 was $56,750, meaning that half of the nation’s CTE teachers earn less than that and half earned more. The lowest-paid 10 percent of CTE teachers earned less than $34,980 in 2018, and the highest-paid 10 percent earned more than $92,640.
CTE teachers in middle schools earned a median salary of $59,230 in 2018, while secondary school CTE teachers earned a median salary of $60,250. Vocational education teachers in post-secondary institutions earned a median salary of $53,120.
Here are the current CTE teacher salaries listed on popular job recruiting sites:
Employment projections for CTE teachers
The United States was home to 214,000 CTE teaching jobs in 2018. The demand for CTE teachers isn’t expected to change much between now and 2028 and will depend on the type of institution. The demand will be driven by the continuing need for programs that prepare students for career and technical work.
Public school funding is an important factor that will affect the demand for CTE teachers in the future. As education budgets are slashed around the country, employment growth for CTE teachers may be affected.
The job market for CTE teachers may be better for some specialties than for others, especially at the post-secondary level. For example, the healthcare industry is expected to need many more skilled workers in the next decade, increasing the need for CTE teachers with experience in healthcare support.
Overall, experts predict a 2% growth in CTE teacher careers in secondary schools, a 3% growth in middle schools, and a 3% decrease in post-secondary institutions by 2028.
CTE teachers with a long history of work experience and those who have the appropriate education and certifications in their subject area will have the best job prospects in the next 10 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Challenges and opportunities for CTE teachers
The advantages of a CTE teaching career include:
- The strong bond teachers form with their students and other staff members
- An ability to impact students’ lives in a meaningful, positive way
- Opportunities for personal and professional growth and learning
- Traditional school work year
The disadvantages of a CTE teaching career include:
- Stretched school budgets that can make it difficult to get the supplies and support you need in the classroom
- Frustration with school administrations when they don’t seem to support teachers
- Lots of meetings before and after classes
- Limited planning time at work
- Difficult students who are disruptive or don’t complete their assignments
CTE teacher professional development
CTE teachers have many opportunities for growth and development. Those with years of teaching experience may choose to become mentors to help less-experienced teachers improve their skills. They may aspire to the position of lead teacher or department chair, or they may seek an advanced degree and move into administration, counseling, or instructional coordination.
Continuing education for CTE teachers
Continuing education requirements for CTE teachers depend on state laws and institutional policies. In states where CTE teachers must maintain their professional licenses and certifications in the subject they’re teaching, continuing education is an important part of the CTE career. Likewise, if the state requires CTE teachers to be certified or licensed, educational requirements may be required for renewal. Public school districts and colleges typically have their own continuing educational or professional development requirements for CTE teachers.
Professional associations for CTE teachers
Several professional associations for CTE teachers offer information, resources, advocacy, and fellowship.
- The Association for Career & Technical Education helps CTE teachers achieve their goals to make a difference in students’ lives, including through professional development.
- The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards provides a comprehensive guide to CTE standards for teachers of students aged 11 and up.
- The National Association of Agricultural Educators advocates for agricultural education and provides professional development for agricultural educators.
- The National Consortium for Health Science Education partners with state leaders, organizations, resource providers, and others to bridge the health industry skills gap through quality education.
- The National Business Education Association supports people and groups engaged in business instruction, research, administration, and dissemination of information.
- The International Technology and Engineering Educators Association promotes and supports the teaching of technology, engineering, design, and innovation.
- The American Technical Education Association supports post-secondary technical educators, emphasizing professional development and best practices.
- The International Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education (CHRIE) supports hospitality industry educators, researchers, and professionals through professional development, networking, publishing, internships, and leadership.
Best of the web
The Internet helps you stay connected to the CTE community and provides a wealth of resources for the CTE teacher. Here are some links to CTE-related blogs and Twitter feeds.