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Adult and Continuing Education Teacher Career Guide

Teachers in adult and continuing education work in a variety of educational settings instructing adult students in a diverse assortment of courses such as art, music, math, language, technology, cooking, and health. These educators work with students seeking self-enrichment and recreation or those seeking academic or vocational instruction for career advancement. This guide provides further information on what adult and continuing education teachers do, how to become an adult and continuing education teacher, and adult and continuing education teacher salary and outlook.

Adult and Continuing Education Teacher Job Description

Adult and continuing education teachers work with adult learners in multiple subjects. These teachers may instruct academic courses, especially courses relating to GED or college preparation, or professional development courses oriented towards career training. Other adult and continuing education professionals lead courses taken for personal development or enjoyment. Depending on the subject taught, adult education teachers may work with groups of students in a classroom or in one-on-one private instruction situations.

Teachers working in adult and continuing education need a passion for what they teach and excellent communication skills to effectively impart their knowledge of a subject. As many adult and continuing education programs rely on tuition for revenue, instructors working in this field must be excellent program managers to ensure that instruction is given within budget while effectively serving students and encouraging future enrollment.

Adult and Continuing Education Teacher Requirements & Common Tasks

Many adult education teachers are trained and certified educators or professionals. Others simply have advanced experience and knowledge in their course matter. A teacher working in adult and continuing education needs interpersonal skills to deal with adult students, an approachable attitude, and an aptitude for their subject and teaching others. Teachers in this wide field need to prepare their classwork and assignments and must have the flexibility to work evenings and weekends.

In addition to having responsibility for direct instruction, adult and continuing education professionals must review and acquire lesson materials and commonly share responsibility in planning and administering course budgets. In some adult and continuing education programs, teachers are also responsible for developing curricula based on community needs. As well as teaching regularly scheduled courses, teachers working in adult and continuing education may also give presentations or lectures to the wider public about their programs or on the subjects in which they are expert.

How to Become an Adult and Continuing Education Teacher

Adult continuing education programs encompass a vast array of career possibilities including everything from math and foreign language to visual arts and time management. In most cases, an adult and continuing educator is expected to have at least a bachelor’s degree in education or the field of his or her specialty as well as at least five years of experience in the subject area(s) to be taught. Prospective educators in this field should plan to start their careers by earning a bachelor’s degree at an accredited school. The following steps represent the typical pathway to becoming an adult and continuing education teacher:

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree in the desired career field.
  2. After graduating from your bachelor’s program, earn at least five years experience in your career field.
  3. To teach in high schools or vocational schools, complete a teacher preparation program through an alternative route or by earning a master’s degree.
  4. Apply for teacher licensure in your state.
  5. Begin applying to open positions.

Following graduation, future adult and continuing education teachers should plan to enter the workforce for three to five years to gain experience in the field. Most adult and continuing education jobs demand demonstrated expertise and field-specific education. For example, a photography teacher may need a professional portfolio to qualify for a position, a writing instructor may need to be a published author, or a personal finance instructor may need an accounting background. As in most subjects, those who wish to teach adult and continuing education subjects in high schools or vocational schools typically must hold a state-issued teaching license. Those who are seeking to teach at the high school level and do not complete a teacher preparation program while earning their bachelor’s degree will typically return to school for an alternative route teacher certification program or a master’s degree in education.

For some careers in adult education, including adult education at community colleges, candidates should have at least a master’s degree in education or a related subject, preferably with a concentration in adult and continuing education. An adult and continuing education degree prepares students to teach using methods geared specifically towards the needs of adult students. Many prospective educators earn this master’s degree through classes online and in the evenings while working. There are also graduate-level certification programs that can qualify students to pursue adult and continuing education positions.

Adult and Continuing Education Teacher Salary & Job Outlook

Adult and continuing education professionals’ salaries vary based on the subject taught as well as the teacher’s education and experience. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, teachers specializing in adult literacy and high school equivalency diploma education earn an average annual salary of $50,280 per year, with job growth prospects of 7% through 2024.1 Career and technical education teachers, who specialize in vocational education, earn an average annual salary of $52,800 and have job growth prospects of 4% through 2024.2 Though many positions for adult and continuing education professionals are part-time, there are opportunities for full-time positions for qualified educators. Post-secondary teachers in academic and vocational subjects teaching for-credit courses on a full-time schedule earn an average of $72,470 per year and have job growth prospects of 13% through 2024.3

Helpful Skills and Experience

The best qualifications for becoming an adult and continuing education professional are a post-graduate degree and/or certification in the field and experience working in an industry related to the subject area(s) taught. Teachers of adult and continuing education subjects that commonly require licensing or other credentials, such as nursing, should hold the appropriate credentials. Educators should have excellent communication and writing skills as well as flexibility and patience with adult learners.

Possible Job Titles for This Career

  • Adult and Continuing Education Coordinator
  • Adult Education Instructor
  • Adult Program Coordinator
  • Community Education Instructor
  • GED Prep Instructor

Additional Resources

Adult & Continuing Education Degrees and Programs

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Frequently Asked Questions about Becoming an Adult and Continuing Education Teacher

Question: Do I need certification to become an adult and continuing education teacher?

Answer: State-level licensing is not required to become an adult and continuing education professional if the teacher is only leading classes of students who are over the age of 18. In some cases, such as remedial education or high school equivalency preparation classes that include students under the age of 18, a teaching license may be required.

Question: Is experience in the field always required become an adult and continuing education teacher?

Answer: Experience in the world of work is not always demanded by prospective employers, but is seen as a factor to the candidate’s benefit. In some fields, such as vocational automotive or business courses, experience may be more important than in others. Checking with local adult and continuing education employers in your area can provide a better understanding of the qualifications expected.

Question: Where do adult and continuing education teachers find work?

Answer: Educators in this field find work with many different types of employers. Community colleges and trade schools employ many adult and continuing education professionals. Community organizations also employ continuing educators, as do larger high schools and private schools that offer community programs after school hours. Still other work opportunities are found in private businesses looking to develop their employees’ abilities.

References:
1. US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, Adult Literacy and High School Equivalency Diploma Teachers: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/adult-literacy-and-ged-teachers.htm
2. US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, Career and Technical Education Teachers: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/career-and-technical-education-teachers.htm
3. US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, Postsecondary Teachers: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/postsecondary-teachers.htm