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Vocational Education Teachers, Postsecondary Career Overview

Teach or instruct vocational or occupational subjects at the postsecondary level (but at less than the baccalaureate) to students who have graduated or left high school. Includes correspondence school instructors; industrial, commercial and government training instructors; and adult education teachers and instructors who prepare persons to operate industrial machinery and equipment and transportation and communications equipment. Teaching may take place in public or private schools whose primary business is education or in a school associated with an organization whose primary business is other than education.

Salary for Vocational Education Teachers, Postsecondary

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U.S. $35,380
Annual figures are on top. Hourly figures are below in parentheses.
N/A = Information not available

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Career Outlook for Vocational Education Teachers, Postsecondary

Job openings will stem from faster than the average employment growth and many expected retirements. Competition is expected for tenure-track positions; better opportunities are expected for part-time or non-tenure-track positions. Ph.D. recipients should experience the best job prospects.

Employment change. Postsecondary teachers are expected to grow by 15 percent between 2008 and 2018, which is faster than the average for all occupations. Projected growth in the occupation will be due primarily to increases in college and university enrollment over the next decade. This enrollment growth stems mainly from the expected increase in the population of 18- to 24-year-olds, who constitute the majority of students at postsecondary institutions, and from the increasing number of high school graduates who choose to attend these institutions. Adults returning to college to enhance their career prospects or to update their skills also will continue to create new opportunities for postsecondary teachers, particularly at community colleges and for-profit institutions that cater to working adults. However, many postsecondary educational institutions receive a significant portion of their funding from State and local governments, so expansion of public higher education will be limited by State and local budgets.

Job prospects. Competition is expected for tenure-track positions; better opportunities are expected for part-time or non-tenure-track positions. A significant number of openings in this occupation will be created by growth in enrollments and the need to replace the large numbers of postsecondary teachers who are likely to retire over the next decade. Many postsecondary teachers were hired in the late 1960s and the 1970s to teach members of the baby-boom generation, and they are expected to retire in growing numbers in the years ahead. Ph.D. recipients should experience the best job prospects.

Although competition will remain tight for tenure-track positions at 4-year colleges and universities, there will be available a considerable number of part-time and renewable term appointments at these institutions and at community colleges. Opportunities will be available for master's degree holders because there will be considerable growth at community colleges, career education programs, and other institutions that employ them.

Opportunities for graduate teaching assistants are expected to be good, reflecting expectations of higher undergraduate enrollments. Graduate teaching assistants play an integral role in the postsecondary education system, and they are expected to continue to do so in the future.

One of the main reasons students attend postsecondary institutions is to prepare themselves for careers, so the best job prospects for postsecondary teachers are likely to be in rapidly growing fields that offer many nonacademic career options, such as business, nursing and other health specialties, and biological sciences.

Employment Overview

Postsecondary teachers held nearly 1.7 million jobs in 2008. The following tabulation shows postsecondary teaching jobs in specialties having 20,000 or more jobs in 2008:

Graduate teaching assistants 159,700
Health specialties teachers 155,300
Vocational education teachers 120,200
Art, drama, and music teachers 93,800
Business teachers 85,400
English language and literature teachers 74,800
Education teachers 70,200
Biological science teachers 64,700
Nursing instructors and teachers 55,100
Mathematical science teachers 54,800
Engineering teachers 40,600
Psychology teachers 38,900
Computer science teachers 38,800
Foreign language and literature teachers 32,100
Communications teachers 29,900
History teachers 26,000
Philosophy and religion teachers 25,100
Chemistry teachers 24,800
Recreation and fitness studies teachers 21,000
Sociology teachers 20,300
Postsecondary teachers, all other 298,000

Job Zone Description

Job Zone 4 - Preparation needed

Overall Experience
A minimum of two to four years of work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is needed for these occupations. For example, an accountant needs four years of college and several years of accounting work to be considered qualified.

Most of these occupations require a four-year bachelor's degree, but some do not.

Job Training
Employees in these occupations usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.

Accountants, chefs and head cooks, computer programmers, historians, and police detectives.

These occupations often involve coordinating, supervising, managing, and/or training others.

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Additional Resources for Vocational Education Teachers, Postsecondary Job Seekers

Professional societies related to a field of study often provide information on academic and nonacademic employment opportunities. Names and addresses of many of these societies appear in statements elsewhere in the Handbook.

Special publications on higher education, such as The Chronicle of Higher Education, list specific employment opportunities for faculty. These publications are available in libraries.

For information on the Preparing Future Faculty program, contact:

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