Career Profile: Vocational Education Teachers – Post-Secondary
After high school, many people go to university or community colleges to learn to become teachers, doctors, librarians, or computer experts. Other people choose to learn a trade such as construction, mechanics, and other fields through vocational school. If you want to help these types of people, you might want to consider becoming a vocational education teacher for post-secondary students.
According to government statistics, about half of Canadians between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four are studying at some form of post-secondary school, whether that is at a university, college, or vocational school. For many students, vocational school is a natural choice for what they want to do. The studies are practical and lead to jobs that can keep people working throughout their careers.
All schools need teachers who can give students the information and skills that they need to succeed in life. Teachers at vocational schools generally have degrees in education with additional training in a particular subject. For example, a teacher working with student mechanics would have mechanical training, whether through formal studies or work experience. An instructor in hairstyling would have training and experience in that field, and someone teaching transportation would have first-hand knowledge of that type of work. A degree in education normally takes four years to complete, besides the additional training.
After they finish their training, vocational teachers can work in private or public schools, for governments, or even for businesses. Salaries begin at about $42,000 per year and can rise to $107,000 with experience. Depending on the type of vocation that the instructor is teaching, the work might be mainly in a classroom or mainly out on the job. It can be physically difficult in some cases, although it usually requires more mental than physical effort.
Since studying is voluntary after high school, most students in vocational programs want to be there and will try to succeed or at least make a reasonable effort. Post-secondary vocational teachers normally have few behavioural issues to deal with, but it can still be hard sometimes to motivate students. Helping the ones who are struggling with the work can also be challenging. Working as a vocational teacher can be difficult in these ways, although it can also be rewarding. Vocational teachers need to understand students’ needs and adjust their teaching styles and content to suit the people they are instructing.
Certain times of the year can be very busy for vocational teachers, such as when students are completing exams, but generally, the work is steady from September to April or June. Some schools might close for the summer, but others continue with classes throughout the year. Even then, however, vocational teachers are likely to have extended breaks for Christmas, spring break, and other holidays. The days can be long, especially if the teacher needs to mark assignments, but vocational teachers can often adjust the timing and content of their courses to allow themselves enough time to finish the work.
Vocational teaching can be very practical, and some teachers might spend much of their time in garages or mechanic shops, showing students certain techniques. Other instructors spend much of their time in classrooms, teaching the theories behind the work. This aspect of the job makes vocational teaching a good choice for people with many different interests. It could be the right choice for you.
Career One Stop. “Career/Technical Education Teachers, Postsecondary.” https://www.careeronestop.org/Toolkit/Careers/Occupations/occupation-profile.aspx/technical-education-teachers.
Talent.com. “Vocational Teacher Average Salary in Canada, 2024.” https://ca.talent.com/salary?job=vocational+teacher.
Taylor, Alison. “Vocational Education in Canadian Schools.” https://www.edcan.ca/articles/vocational-education-in-canadian-schools/.
Zeman, Klarka. “From High School, into Postsecondary Education and on to the Labour Market.” https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/81-595-m/81-595-m2023004-eng.htm.