How to Become an Industrial Technology Teacher
March 10, 2021
Want to be the most active teacher in your school (OK, maybe the phys ed teacher is more active)? Industrial technology is a hands-on, practical subject students can apply as soon as they get home.
Secondary school students spend a lot of their day learning subjects that may not have much immediate bearing on their lives. Mathematics, science, language arts, and foreign languages are all important, but how often does a school kid actually apply those skills in the here and now?
And then there's industrial technology. Whether they're learning automobile repair, carpentry, electrical technology, plumbing, or cabinetry, students in these classes acquire knowledge they can use right away.
As an industrial technology teacher, you'll empower students with the knowledge of how things work and how to build and fix them. You'll give students a much-needed break from the stationary undertaking of passive learning and offering them the opportunity to do something. And, you'll teach them skills that they can carry into the real world to earn a living. Take that, French teacher!
In this article, we'll cover:
- The pros and cons of becoming an industrial technology teacher
- The kinds of industrial technology teaching careers
- The educational commitment to become an industrial technology teacher
- Licensure and accreditation to become an industrial technology teacher
- Resources for becoming an industrial technology teacher
- Typical advancement path for industrial technology teachers
- Further accreditation or education for industrial technology teachers
Pros and cons of becoming an industrial technology teacher
- This is a very hands-on job, so you won't be stuck sitting at a desk all day
- A degree in industrial technology education gives you have the opportunity to teach a wide variety of subjects, including auto repair, welding, carpentry, and computer-aided design (CAD)
- This job allows you to pursue subjects you love without having to commit to one or earn a living as an independent contractor
- You get to work teacher hours, which often means summers off
- With education budgets constantly in peril, your job might not be stable; industrial arts courses are often on the chopping block when schools need to make cuts
- For the same budgetary reasons, you could end up with much larger class sizes than is ideal, which makes it harder to enforce safety rules and provide students the individualized help they may need
Educational commitment to become an industrial technology teacher
The steps to becoming an industrial technology teacher are the same steps to become any type of teacher. You'll need a bachelor's degree; you should consider an undergraduate teacher education program, especially if you hope to teach before earning a master's degree. You'll also need student teaching experience in order to get hands-on training in a school. A full-time student can typically complete an undergraduate degree in four years.
How often do industrial technology teachers need ongoing industrial technology education training?
The amount of ongoing training necessary depends on your state and school requirements. Many states require teachers to continue their teacher education for their teaching certificates to remain valid. For this reason, a lot of teachers go on to earn their master's degree. Many school districts also require continuing professional development training, either instead of or in addition to a master's degree.
Where can you find local licensing and accreditation requirements for industrial technology teachers?
Most states use the Praxis. You can check out their website to find the requirements in your state. You can also learn more about licensing and accreditation requirements from the U.S. Department of Education.
Although a bachelor's degree is almost always required, under special or emergency circumstances you may qualify to teach based on your work experience. Technical education programs can help you sort out the requirements for employment.
Kinds of industrial technology teacher careers
What are the differences between industrial technology education at different grade levels?
Industrial technology teachers typically teach at the middle school or high school level and can teach a wide variety of subjects at either level. With middle schoolers, you'll likely teach an overview. For example, middle school programs might involve teaching general career and technical education courses such as electronic media, drafting, design, home repairs, woodworking, and small engine repair. You may teach every student at your school.
At the higher grade levels, you'll usually get to go more in-depth with your students, as students choose which courses to take based on their interests and future goals. You'll teach only those students who choose to study industrial technology, and you should have more time to devote to each of them. You might teach advanced woodshop to just a select few students who have already taken lower woodshop levels. You'll also likely find a lot of satisfaction knowing you're providing useful career prep to your students.
How much do industrial technology teachers make?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2018 the median pay for industrial arts teachers was $56,750 per year. Your level of education plays a role in your salary. Typically, teachers are only required to have a bachelor's degree, although you will likely make more money if you have a master's degree. Pay for teachers also varies widely based on your location. A high school industrial technology teacher in Massachusetts earns a mean annual income of $83,880; in North Carolina, that same teacher would more likely earn $50,680 per year.
What can you do with your industrial technology degree?
Most people who earn an industrial technology teaching degree go on to teach industrial technology. They have some options: many teach in public schools, but others teach in trade or vocational/technical schools. Your experience and your degree will also qualify you for many of the trades you teach to students, such as welding, carpentry, auto repair, etc.
There's an old saying: "Those who can do, and those who can't teach." Any good teacher knows this isn't true. More accurate is this aphorism: "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." If you're a great auto repair teacher, you have what it takes to be a great auto repairman (or woman!)
Licensure and accreditation for becoming an industrial technology teacher
How do licensure and accreditation for industrial technology teachers vary by location?
Although requirements from state to state, each state has a licensing exam and clearance qualifications to become a teacher. For example, in Pennsylvania, in addition to having a bachelor's degree, teachers must pass two standardized tests called the Praxis 1 & 2. The first Praxis is more general, and the second Praxis is specific to the subject you will teach. Pennsylvania teachers must also pass clearances including child abuse, FBI fingerprint criminal record, and PA State Police criminal history record.
How are licensure and accreditation requirements different for different industrial technology education levels?
This again depends on your state. Most states break education certifications into two or three different levels: elementary and secondary, or elementary, middle level, and secondary.
Resources for becoming an industrial technology teacher
- U.S. News & World Report is a great resource to turn to to find the top ranking career and technical education programs.
- If you need help paying for your industrial arts education, look into the different Federal Student Aid options.
- _SkillsUSA_ is also a great program that supports career and technical education teachers and students.
Typical advancement path for industrial technology teachers
Teacher burnout and demoralization is one of the main drawbacks of becoming a technical education teacher. About 17 percent of new teachers last fewer than five years before they decide teaching isn't for them. If you make it past those five years there's a decent chance you'll teach until retirement, which varies by state, but averages around age 59. Experienced teachers sometimes decide to move up to work in administration once they earn their master's degree.
Further accreditation or education for industrial technology teachers
Other than continuing education by following the rules set by your state, additional accreditation is typically not required. Continuing education is important for all teachers so they can make sure they are always at the top of their game. It's especially important for industrial technology teachers, because safety standards and common practices can change.
If you choose to continue your education, finding a master's degree program that encourages hands-on learning can help you improve your craft. You also have the unique opportunity to continue to learn more about teaching best practices and theory, or to learn more about vocational education by taking classes in different trades or education areas.
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