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Overview of Education & Training

Educational Attainment Breakdown for Adult Literacy, Remedial Education, and GED Teachers and Instructors
College or Higher 58.5%
Some College 27.2%
High School or Less 14.3%

Most Significant Source of Postsecondary Education or Training
Bachelor's degree
Source: U.S. Department of Labor

In-Depth Look at Education & Training

Nearly all programs require teachers to have at least a bachelor's degree, but some require a master's degree in adult education or ESOL instruction. Some States require teachers to have a public school teacher license or a license specifically for adult education teachers.

Education and training. In most States, adult education teachers need at least a bachelor's degree, although some programs prefer or require a master's degree. Programs may also prefer to hire those with teaching experience, especially with adults. Many colleges and universities offer master's degrees or graduate certificates in teaching adult education or ESOL, although some adult education programs offer classes or workshops on related topics relevant for their teachers. These include classes on teaching adults, using technology to teach, working with learners from a variety of cultures, and teaching adults with learning disabilities. ESOL teachers also should have courses or training in second-language acquisition theory and linguistics. In addition, knowledge of the citizenship and naturalization process may be useful. Knowledge of a second language is not necessary to teach ESOL students, but can be helpful in understanding the students' perspectives. GED teachers should know what is required to pass the GED and be able to instruct students in the subject matter.

Professional development among adult education and literacy teachers varies widely. Both part-time and full-time teachers are expected to participate in ongoing professional development activities in order to keep current on new developments in the field and to enhance skills already acquired. Each State's professional development system reflects the unique needs and organizational structure of that State. Attendance by teachers at professional development workshops and other activities is often outlined in State or local policy. Some teachers are able to access professional development activities through alternative delivery systems such as the Internet or distance learning.

Licensure. Many States require teachers in these programs to have some form of license if they are employed in a State or local government-run program. Some States have specific licenses for adult education teachers, while others require a public school teacher license. Requirements for a license typically consist of a bachelor's degree and completion of an approved teacher training program.

Other qualifications. Adult education and literacy teachers must have the ability to work with students who come from a variety of cultural, educational, and economic backgrounds. They must be understanding and respectful of their students' circumstances and be familiar with their concerns. All teachers, both paid and volunteer, should be able to communicate well and motivate their students.

Advancement. Opportunities for advancement for adult education and literacy teachers vary from State to State and program to program. Some part-time teachers are able to move into full-time teaching positions or program administrator positions, such as coordinator or director, when such vacancies occur. Others may decide to use their classroom experience to move into policy work at a nonprofit organization or with the local, State, or Federal Government to perform research or to write teaching materials.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook

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