Robotics Teacher: Education, Salary, and Outlook
Robotics is an exciting, expanding industry. According to the International Federation of Robotics, robot sales are steadily increasing by several billion dollars each year in the medical, agriculture, and manufacturing sectors. As more and more processes in these and other industries are left to robots, the next-generation workforce will need to be able to build, program, and maintain them. Robotics teachers provide essential education in this area.
Whether you’re an elementary school classroom educator or a high school technology teacher, you can incorporate robotics into your curriculum. Most elementary schools don’t offer classes dedicated to robotics. Rather, robotics may be part of a science curriculum or offered as an extracurricular club activity. In middle schools and high schools, robotics education is generally part of a larger technical education curriculum, although dedicated robotics classes are becoming more popular in high schools across the country.
Here, we look at what it takes to be a teacher of robotics, what the job pays, and how it’s expected to change in the coming decade.
At a glance: robotics teacher
The educators who teach robotics in K-12 settings are typically career and technical education (CTE) teachers. In addition to robotics, CTE teachers teach subjects including computer maintenance, electronic technologies, engineering sciences, and software and web page development. In many cases, CTE teachers specialize in a particular field, like robotics.
A robotics teacher works with students in a classroom setting, providing instruction and hands-on experiences with robots. Duties of a robotics teacher include:
- Planning and teaching robotics lessons and labs
- Writing assignments, quizzes, and tests
- Grading students and communicating with parents about their progress
- Facilitating student learning and overseeing hands-on learning
- Monitoring student progress through formal and informal assessments
- Working with other teachers and administrators to promote overall student achievement
- Staying on top of new robotics technologies and standards
- Managing classroom behavior by enforcing rules and implementing safety procedures
What makes a good robotics teacher?
First and foremost, a robotics teacher should be passionate about robotics and have a strong understanding of how they work and how to program, troubleshoot, and maintain them. The traits of an effective robotics teacher include:
- Flexibility. All students learn differently, and a good robotics teacher will make sure to provide a variety of lessons for different learning styles.
- Organization. Teaching requires a long list of administrative tasks, along with lesson planning and instruction time. A robotics teacher needs to be organized for optimal effectiveness.
- Patience. Not every student will be a natural at robotics. Patience with students who learn differently or more slowly is essential for ensuring that all students succeed.
- Energy. A robotics teacher should have an abundance of energy to meet the demands of the job, including administrative tasks, making robotics fun and interesting to students, and staying on top of changes in the industry.
- Positive. A positive attitude in the classroom helps to create a safe and respectful learning environment for optimal student learning.
Robotics teacher in-depth
Education requirements for robotics teachers
Educators who teach robotics in the K-12 classrooms must have at least a bachelor’s degree, along with experience in the field of robotics. The level of robotics experience a teacher need depends on the school’s guidelines and the level of robotics expertise the students have. A robotics teacher in elementary school will likely need less experience than a robotics teacher in high school or a trade school. Generally speaking, CTE teachers, including robotics teachers, should have around five years of field experience in the subject they teach.
Robotics teachers entering the teaching profession from another field will probably need to complete a student teaching program through an accredited university. Student teaching gives educators experience in classroom management and administrative duties. It provides an opportunity to try out teaching to ensure it’s the right profession for you.
Certification requirements for robotics teacher
Robotics teachers in public schools need to have a teaching certificate. Requirements for teaching certificates vary by state. Typically, teacher candidates must pass a general exam in their field to receive state certification.
In addition to having a teaching certificate, some robotics teachers may be required to hold a certification in the robotics field. They may choose or be required to complete an educator’s certification course in robotics. A number of post-secondary institutions and technical institutes offer robotics courses and workshops for educators, which often include curricula and resources that the teacher can use in the classroom.
Once a robotics teacher is hired, the school or district will typically require ongoing professional development to provide further education and keep teachers energized and up-to-date on state and national standards and best practices.
How much do robotics teachers earn?
Robotics teachers are usually certified CTE teachers who specialize in the area of robotics. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual pay for a CTE teacher is $56,750. The highest-paid 10% of CTE teachers make more than $92,640, while the lowest-paid 10% earned under $34,980 in 2018. High school robotics teachers typically make more than their middle school and elementary school counterparts.
Current salaries for career and technical education teachers are listed on a number of job search sites. Here are the salaries for CTE teachers reported by three of the most popular sites:
Employment projections for robotics teachers
CTE teachers specializing in robotics will likely increase in demand in the coming years, although the demand for CTE teachers, in general, is expected to remain stable through 2028, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. BLS points out that the state of the job market for CTE teachers depends on the type of school and the area of specialization. Employment growth for robotics teachers will also depend on school budgets and an increasing workplace demand for robotics-skilled workers.
Challenges and opportunities for robotics teachers
Teaching robotics is both gratifying and challenging. Teaching can be a very rewarding career for the right person. Some of the benefits of being a robotics teacher include:
- Forming strong bonds with students and other teachers and administrators
- Impacting the lives of students in meaningful ways
- Opportunities for lifelong growth and learning
- The opportunity to share a passion for robotics with young people
Some of the more challenging aspects of a robotics teaching job may include:
- Small budgets that can make it tough to purchase the supplies you need
- Working with administrators who are focused on numbers
- Limited plan time, which usually translates to evening and weekend hours spent grading, writing lessons, and doing other administrative tasks
- Working with students who have behavioral issues or who are disinterested in the class
Robotics teacher professional development
Robotics teachers have a range of growth opportunities. Some robotics teachers work in the classroom until they retire, honing their teaching skills and developing a robust curriculum over the years. Others go on to become instructional coaches or mentors to help other teachers. Still, others may move into administration or a teaching job at the college level.
States and school districts will have certain requirements for ongoing teacher education. States often require teachers to engage in continuing education in order to maintain certification. School districts typically require a certain number of hours of professional development activities each year. Continuing education for robotics teachers may include getting a master’s degree; participating in robotics courses or workshops through a university, trade school, or institute; and engaging in school-based training.
Professional associations for robotics teachers
Professional associations lend credibility to a robotics teacher’s resume as well as provide up-to-date information and resources for the classroom teacher. Here are some professional associations and foundations ideal for robotics teachers.
- The National Robotics Education Foundation (NREF) is a clearinghouse that publishes the Robotics Education Journal and offers curricula, products, and learning resources for robotics teachers.
- The Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA) is a global, nonprofit, member-based organization supporting the use of technology in education.
- The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ Robotics and Automation Society (IEEE-RAS) fosters the development of knowledge in robotics and automation through innovation and education.
Best of the web
Experienced and aspiring robotics teachers alike can find a wealth of resources, information, and support on the Internet. Here are some great websites, blogs, and twitter handles to follow.
Websites to visit
- The Robotics Education & Competition Foundation offers robotics and technology events and competitions to inspire students. The foundation also offers workshops and professional development for educators.
- The Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy studies how teachers use robots in the classroom and develops research-based solutions for classroom teachers.
Blogs to read
- The RobotLab blog provides a wealth of information about robotics in education and business.
- The Pitsco Education blog is by educators and for educators who teach robotics and other STEM topics.
- Classroom Robotics is a blog teachers and students dedicated to robotics in the world.