Teaching Careers Updated October 29, 2019

Industrial Arts Teacher – Career Information for Educators

By Robbie Bruens October 4, 2012

The 21st-century economy depends on a diverse array of talents and occupations. The work of electricians, mechanics, carpenters, welders, and builders is essential 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.

At-a-glance: Industrial arts teachers

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, computer technology, graphic design, and/or computer-aided design (CAD).

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?

Someone who is:

  • 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

Industrial arts teachers in-depth

Most industrial arts teachers either teach students at middle and high schools, community colleges, or vocational and technical training programs. Regardless of the level at which industrial arts is taught, many of the responsibilities are consistent.

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 other academic subjects and an important part of the curriculum covers safety procedures and preventive measures during potentially dangerous activities like welding and metal-working.

Industrial arts teacher do give lectures and written assignments, as well as other traditional assessments. The majority of class time, however, is spent working with students to complete hands-on projects.

Teaching at various levels

One consideration in a career as an industrial arts teacher is at which level to teach. Some duties, expertise, and skill level depend upon the educational level of the teaching institution.

A number of factors come into play in deciding which education level to teach. These include:

  • Teacher’s educational level (postsecondary institutions typically require an advanced degree)
  • Range of knowledge and experience in subjects and abilities; the higher the instructional level, the more specialized field experience may be required.
  • Age and maturity levels of students — from middle school to college
  • Local salary considerations and employment opportunities

Middle and high school industrial arts teachers

Middle and high school industrial arts teachers usually focus on training students at an introductory level. Middle school students usually are required to obtain credits in the class, while high school students choose to enroll as part of their elective course load.

Middle and high school industrial arts teachers train students in one or more of the following 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

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 or vocational schools.

At the postsecondary level, students must receive the technical training they need to get a job as a skilled tradesperson. In addition to introductory courses, industrial arts teachers are also responsible for intermediate and advanced level courses. Because of this, postsecondary teachers usually specialize in a specific field, such as carpentry, automotive technology, electronics, or computer repair.

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

Education and certification requirements for industrial arts teachers

  • Education: Bachelor’s or master’s degree
  • Typical study time: 4-6 years

A bachelor’s degree and state-issued teaching credential is required to teach industrial arts in most public schools in the U.S. Many schools also seek teachers with work experience or special accomplishments in the trade they plan to teach. Higher salary often accompanies the completion of a master’s degree in an education-related subject. Also, getting hired at a community college can be very competitive. A master’s degree and advanced training in a relevant field can increase employment opportunities as well.

Most industrial arts teachers need to complete the following credentials to become employed:

  • Bachelor’s or master’s degree in technology or vocational training
  • A period of field work in student teaching
  • Successful completion of state examinations for certification or licensing

Certification and licensing

A state-issued teaching certificate or license is generally required to teach. Specific certification and licensing requirements vary from state to state. Teachers are often required to complete years of teaching and take professional development courses as a condition of certification.

Teaching License Reciprocity by State: Visit our state-by-state teacher licensing and reciprocity page for regulations in your state.

Salary range and employment projections

Salary ranges for industrial arts teachers can vary depending on the state, degree, and experience. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for an industrial arts teacher is $56,750. The lowest 10% earn less than $34,980 and the highest 10% earn more than $92,640.

According to ZipRecruiter.com, average pay for beginning industrial arts teachers by state varies from $34,231 to $48,308.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, salary can also vary depending on the institution of employment:

  • Middle school: $59,230
  • High school: $60,250
  • Community colleges: $55,790
  • Four-year colleges and universities: $57,240
  • Trade schools: $50,230

Here is a snapshot of average industrial arts teacher salaries across the U.S.:

  • Payscale.com: $49,073
  • Glassdoor.com: $46,949
  • ZipRecruiter.com: $44,138
  • Comparably.com: $57,344
  • Salary.com: $57,337

According to the BLS, the overall employment of industrial arts and technical education teachers is projected to show little or no change from 2018 to 2028.

As middle and high school students are required to take more academic classes and fewer career and technical classes, employment growth may be affected. Employment of vocational teachers in postsecondary institutions is projected to decline, seeing little growth in this industry.

Advantages and disadvantages

Pros:

  • Inspire curiosity
  • Connect with “nontraditional” students
  • Help students graduate with skills for real-world employment
  • Project-based and hands-on teaching
  • Mentoring students on job and career matters
  • Sharing the love of a trade

Cons:

  • Assessment and material preparation
  • Lower salary compared to other career options
  • Usually necessary to have prior work experience before teaching particular trades
  • Below-average job growth
  • Some programs are underfunded and undervalued

Professional development for industrial arts teachers

Staying current on the latest developments in education and in vocational training are an important aspect of being a successful industrial arts teacher.

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.

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, instructional improvement, lesson planning, 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 as well as your salary prospects.

Professional Associations

These groups will keep you up to date on the latest advances in industrial arts and vocational education, and give you access to networking opportunities.

Best of the web

The internet makes it easy for us to stay connected to prominent industrial arts educators. Here is a list of our favorites:

Favorite industrial arts websites and blogs:

Twitter and Instagram to follow:

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