Industrial Arts Teacher – Career Information for Educators

Teaching Careers Updated March 9, 2017

Students in a woodworking class working with machinesThe 21st-century economy depends on a diverse array of talents and occupations. Highly educated professionals such as doctors, lawyers and software engineers capture much of the media’s attention. But the work of electricians, mechanics, carpenters, welders and builders is just as important to a functioning society. And it’s up to industrial arts teachers to equip their students with the know-how and hands-on skills to succeed in these crucial jobs.

Industrial arts educators teach students how to use a range of practical tools from soldering irons to water jet cutters. And in many modern industrial arts classrooms, the equipment includes more than just the standard saws and drills. To keep up with the times, many schools expose students to 3D printers, robots and other advanced electronics.

This guide will provide an overview of what it takes to become an industrial arts teacher, including the prerequisite education, likely income, and advantages and disadvantages of this career. Browse through the article or use the following links to skip forward to what you’re looking for:

At-a-glance
> Industrial arts teacher job description
> Who makes a good industrial arts teacher?

Types of industrial arts teachers
> Middle and high school industrial arts teachers
> Postsecondary industrial arts teachers

Professional development
> Continuing education
> What kinds of programs can help industrial arts teachers?

Related careers
> Jobs beyond teaching

Best of the web
> Websites to follow

At-a-glance: industrial arts teachers

Middle and high school industrial arts teacher Postsecondary industrial arts teacher
Minimum education Bachelor’s degree Bachelor’s degree
Estimated annual income $58,550 (BLS)
$59,935 (SalaryExpert.com)
$47,487 (PayScale.com)
$63,136 (Neuvoo.com)
$53,480 (Houston Chronicle)
$61,260 (BLS)
$49,977 (PayScale.com)
$54,571 (Salary.com)
$56,330 (Houston Chronicle)

Industrial arts teacher job description

Industrial arts teachers instruct students in an array of vocational subjects. Their courses may focus on engine repair, heating and air-conditioning systems, welding, or wood and metal working. They may also teach robotics, graphic design and/or computer-aided design (CAD).

Industrial arts teachers must prepare lessons and activities that help students understand the job functions of various trades. They frequently use demonstrations, hands-on activities, and repair or construction projects. This teaching style requires them to effectively communicate with students on how to use equipment responsibly.

Industrial arts courses involve more potential hazards than academic subjects. An important part of the curriculum covers safety procedures and preventive measures during potentially dangerous activities like welding and metalworking. Teachers in these courses must closely monitor students to ensure safety and compliance with the rules at all times.

Industrial arts teachers do give lectures, written assignments and tests in some cases, but the majority of their time is spent working with students to complete hands-on projects. However, industrial arts teachers are still required to give students grades and evaluate their performance. In addition, they communicate about student progress with parents (if applicable) and school administrators.

Industrial arts teachers are also known as industrial technology teachers, career and technical education teachers, or wood/metal/auto shop teachers.

Who makes a good industrial arts teacher?

People who are:

  • Good with their hands
  • Fanatical about problem solving
  • A compulsive tinkerer
  • Sociable and easy to talk to
  • Patient and resourceful
  • Capable of motivating and inspiring students
  • Organized and careful about time management
  • Devoted to service and education
  • Thoughtful about interacting with people from diverse backgrounds
  • Qualified with a degree in an education-related field

Interested in becoming an industrial arts teacher?

Check out this video to get a better sense of what you’ll encounter if you become an industrial arts teacher.

Different types of industrial arts teachers

The path to a career as an industrial arts teacher depends on where you want to teach. Most industrial arts teachers either teach students at middle and high schools, or adults enrolled in community colleges and vocational and technical training programs. Let’s take a look at these industrial arts education career paths in more detail.

Middle and high school industrial arts teachers

Industrial arts teachers in middle and high schools have traditionally taught classes called “shop” — often subdivided into courses such as wood shop, metal shop and auto shop. Some schools still use these designations, but others have reorganized vocational training courses into comprehensive industrial arts/technology education initiatives.

Continue reading to learn more about middle and high school industrial arts teachers

What middle and high school industrial arts teachers do

Middle and high school industrial arts teachers usually focus on training students in one or more of these skills:

  • Carpentry
  • Metallurgy
  • Automotive technology
  • Electronics and computer repair
  • Technical drafting and computer-aided design (CAD)
  • Robotics
  • Building and construction
  • Plumbing and heating system design and operation
  • Graphic design

Most of these courses are electives that students choose to enroll in. They’re also introductory, giving students basic training in the fundamentals of a trade.

Industrial arts teachers’ responsibilities include:

  • Leading students through demonstrations of various techniques and applied skills
  • Assigning and supervising hands-on projects
  • Teaching safety procedures and protocols
  • Grading student participation, projects, homework and skill tests/exams
  • Authoring a syllabus and creating lesson plans
  • Staying up-to-date on the latest news in technology and design

Industrial arts teachers hold classes on a daily schedule for nine or 10 months of the year. They may work with students one-on-one or in smaller groups outside of class. Industrial arts teachers also set aside time before or after their daily class schedule to prepare for each day’s lesson and to grade student work and tests.

Education and certification requirements

A bachelor’s degree and a state-issued teaching credential qualifies you to teach industrial arts in most public schools in the U.S. You may also be expected to have a background working jobs in carpentry, metallurgy or another industrial art. Private schools may have lower or higher requirements depending on each school’s discretion. If you want a higher salary and better job opportunities, pursuing a master’s degree in an education-related subject may be a good option.

Income projections

The Bureau of Labor Statistics and various career-centered websites offer average salary estimates for middle and high school industrial arts teachers.

  • BLS: $58,550
  • PayScale.com: $47,487
  • SalaryExpert.com: $59,935
  • Neuvoo.com: $63,136
  • Houston Chronicle: $53,480

Pros and cons of being a middle and high school industrial arts teacher

As you consider a career in this field, make sure to take into account the positive and negative parts of the job.

Pros

  • Inspire the curiosity of young students on a subject relevant to their lives
  • Many full-time jobs come with good benefits
  • May get two or more months off per year
  • You need only a bachelor’s degree and a teaching credential
  • Teaching practical skills means you can put those skills to use in your everyday life or to earn extra income

Cons

  • May be necessary to discipline or provide extra incentives to unmotivated or disruptive students
  • Below-average job growth
  • Not as prestigious as other teaching jobs
  • May include contacting students or grading assignments on the weekends and evenings
  • Frequently necessary to have prior work experience before being able to teach a particular trade
  • Some industrial arts programs are underfunded or lack administrative support

Postsecondary industrial arts teachers

Postsecondary industrial arts programs usually aim to prepare students to enter a specific job or apprenticeship. Teachers work at community colleges and technical/vocational schools.

Continue reading to learn more about postsecondary industrial arts teachers

What postsecondary industrial arts teachers do

Therefore, industrial arts teachers must give students the technical training they need to get a job as a skilled tradesperson. In addition to introductory courses comparable to those offered at a secondary level, they also teach intermediate and advanced courses. This is why postsecondary industrial arts teachers usually specialize in a specific field such as carpentry, automotive technology, electronics and computer repair.

Regardless of their specialty, all postsecondary industrial arts teachers carry out similar job duties to ensure the success of their students:

  • Conducting demonstrations that show students how to complete important tasks in their trade
  • Working with students one-on-one or in small groups to complete skill-building projects
  • Writing lesson plans and keeping the class organized and on track
  • Pairing more-experienced students with less-experienced ones to ensure peer-to-peer learning
  • Giving advice to students on job and career matters
  • Developing course materials such as syllabi, project outlines and assignments, homework, skill assessments and more
  • Grading student participation, projects, homework and skill assessments
  • Teaching safety procedures and protocols
  • Keeping a schedule of open office hours to answer questions and provide professional guidance
  • Staying up-to-date on the latest news in technology and design

Some postsecondary industrial arts teachers work at community colleges. Others work for technical schools or vocational programs tailored to particular industries such as automotive repair or home construction.

Education and certification requirements

At minimum, postsecondary industrial arts teachers must have a bachelor’s degree. Getting hired as full-time faculty at a community college can be very competitive, so you may also need to have advanced training in a relevant field. Many schools also seek teachers with work experience or special accomplishments in the trade they plan to teach.

Income projections

Here are a handful of estimates of what you might earn as a full-time industrial arts teacher at a community college or vocational school:

  • BLS: $61,260
  • Houston Chronicle: $56,330
  • PayScale.com: $49,977
  • Salary.com: $54,571

Full-time faculty at community colleges generally command higher salaries than adjunct instructors, who are paid by the course and don’t always receive benefits. For more about the difference between full-time faculty and adjunct instructors, check out our article on community college instructors.

Pros and cons of being a postsecondary industrial arts teacher

Keep in mind both the advantages and disadvantages of becoming a postsecondary industrial arts instructor:

Pros

  • Teach students who are dynamic, enthusiastic and eager for opportunities
  • Rewarding to educate many first-generation college students, often from immigrant families
  • Many full-time jobs come with good benefits
  • You may have a lot of opportunity for time off or vacation
  • You may only need a bachelor’s degree and relevant work experience
  • Teaching practical skills means you can put those skills to use in your everyday life or to earn extra income on the side
  • Less likely to have to deal with disruptive students than in middle or high schools
  • Can be rewarding to prepare students for entering the workforce or choosing a career

Cons

  • Not seen as prestigious as other teaching jobs
  • May include contacting students or grading assignments on the weekends and evenings
  • Lower pay than other postsecondary teaching jobs
  • Usually necessary to have prior work experience before being able to teach a particular trade
  • Many teaching positions at community colleges are adjunct, meaning lower pay, few benefits and little job security
  • Some schools suffer bad management or little faculty support

Professional development for industrial arts teachers

If you decide to become an industrial arts teacher, you’ll want to start thinking about your career prospects, skills and connections. First, you should focus on improving your abilities in carpentry, automotive technology, computer-assisted design or another skill taught in industrial arts programs. Maybe you focus on developing your abilities in one particular industrial skill set, or you can stretch your talents across different areas of expertise.

You may also consider joining a professional organization such as the Association for Career & Technical Education or the North American Council of Automotive Teachers. These groups will keep you up-to-date on the latest advances in industrial arts education and give you access to networking opportunities.

Benefits of continuing education

Becoming an industrial arts teacher requires a high level of skill in two areas. First, you must have mastery of the industrial arts you plan to teach. Second, you must have expertise in teaching itself. No matter how skillful you are as a carpenter, you won’t succeed as an industrial arts teacher if you can’t teach woodworking skills to others. If you want to improve your abilities as an educator, consider pursuing a master’s degree in an education-related field.

What kinds of programs can help industrial arts teachers?

Concordia University-Portland offers an online degree program that can help prepare you for job opportunities as an industrial arts teacher:

MEd in Career and Technical Education

This program focuses on Career and Technical Education (CTE) foundations, frameworks for teaching CTE, CTE instructional improvement, CTE lesson planning, CTE curriculum integration, multiple assessment strategies, classroom management, CTE program promotion and development, CTE advisory committees, dual credit agreements, and postsecondary transitions.

With an MEd in Career and Technical Education, you will expand your opportunities as an industrial arts teacher and your salary prospects.

Jobs for industrial arts teachers beyond teaching

With additional education or certification, industrial arts teachers may become librarians, instructional coordinators, assistant principals, principals or an educational administrator at a college or university.

Librarian: A master’s degree in library science (MLS) is generally required for employment. Some states also require librarians to pass a standardized test.

Instructional coordinator: Instructional coordinators generally need to complete a master’s degree related to a subject like curriculum and instruction, and they may be required to have a teaching or education administrator license.

Academic advisor: With a master’s degree in an education-related field, you can transition into being an academic advisor at either the K-12 or college/university level.

Education consultant: Industrial arts teachers can become education consultants if they want to tackle challenges in a variety of schools and education systems. You’ll probably need an advanced degree in an education-related subject.

Education policy analyst: With an advanced degree in an education-related subject, industrial arts teachers can become policy analysts and examine big-picture issues affecting education nationwide.

School principal: Industrial arts teachers wishing to become a school principal should seriously consider earning a master’s degree in an education-related field. Most states also require public school principals to be licensed as school administrators.

Educational administrator: Depending upon the position, either a bachelor’s or master’s degree may be required. For a higher-level position such as dean or president, a master’s degree or doctorate in educational leadership may be required.

Best of the web: our favorite industrial arts teacher blogs and websites

The web makes it easy for us to stay connected to prominent industrial arts educators. Here is a list of our favorite websites and blogs, in no particular order:

Favorite industrial arts websites and blogs

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Many people believe that a degree in education automatically transfers to a career in teaching. While classroom teaching is a frequent outcome for education-degree graduates, there are many other careers that may fit you and your goals. A background in education can provide you with knowledge that can benefit many industries, including business, public service and guidance. Educators are desirable as researchers, educational program designers, counselors and consultants. Your career path is entirely dependent on the atmosphere you would like to work in, the work you are interested in doing, and the salary you desire.

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