Career and Technical Education Teacher Career Description


Career and technical education teachers instruct students in various technical and vocational subjects, such as auto repair, healthcare, and culinary arts.

What they do

Career and technical education teachers teach vocational and technical content to give students the skills and knowledge necessary to enter an occupation.

Career and technical education teachers typically do the following:

  • Create lesson plans and assignments
  • Instruct students on how to develop certain skills
  • Show students how to apply classroom knowledge through hands-on activities
  • Demonstrate and supervise safe and proper use of tools and equipment
  • Monitor students’ progress, assign tasks, and grade assignments
  • Discuss students’ progress with parents, students, and counselors
  • Develop and enforce classroom rules and safety procedures

CTE teachers help students explore and prepare to enter a career or technical occupation. They use a variety of teaching methods to help students learn and develop skills related to a specific occupation or career field. They demonstrate tasks, techniques, and tools used in an occupation. They may assign hands-on tasks, such as replacing brakes on cars, taking blood pressure, or applying makeup. Teachers typically oversee these activities in workshops and laboratories in the school.

Some teachers work with local businesses and nonprofit organizations to provide practical work experience for students. They also serve as advisers to students participating in career and technical student organizations.

The specific duties of CTE teachers vary by the grade and subject they teach. In middle schools and high schools, they teach general concepts in a classroom and practical exercises in workshops and laboratories.

In postsecondary schools, they teach specific career skills that help students earn a certificate, a diploma, or an associate degree and prepare them for a specific job. For example, welding instructors teach students welding techniques and safety practices. They also monitor the use of tools and equipment and have students practice procedures until they meet the standards required by the trade.

In most states, teachers in middle and high schools teach one subject within major career fields. CTE teachers combine academic instruction with experiential learning in their subject of expertise.


Work Environment

Career and technical education teachers typically work in middle, high, and postsecondary schools, such as 2-year colleges. Others work in technical, trade, and business schools.

How to become a Career and Technical Education Teacher

Career and technical education teachers typically must have at least a bachelor’s degree. They also need work experience in the subject they teach. Public schools may require a state-issued teaching certification or license.

Career and technical education teachers generally need a bachelor’s degree in the field they teach, such as agriculture, engineering, or computer science.

All states require prospective career and technical education teachers in public schools to complete a period of fieldwork, called a student-teaching program, in which they work with a mentor teacher and get experience teaching students in a classroom. For information about teacher preparation programs in your state, visit

Many career and technical education teachers need work experience in the field they teach. For example, automotive mechanics, chefs, and nurses typically spend years in their career before moving into teaching.

States may require career and technical education teachers in public schools to be licensed or certified. Requirements for certification or licensure vary by state, but generally involve the following:

  • A bachelor’s degree with a minimum grade point average
  • Completion of a student-teaching program
  • Passing a background check
  • Passing a general teaching certification test, as well as a test that demonstrates their knowledge of the subject they will teach.

For information on certification requirements in your state, visit

Career and technical education teachers who prepare students for an occupation that requires a license or certification may need to have and maintain the same credential. For example, career and technical education teachers who teach welding may need to have certification in welding. In addition, teachers may be required to complete annual professional development courses to maintain their license or certification.

Some states offer an alternative route to certification or licensure for prospective teachers who have a bachelor’s degree or work experience in their field but lack the education courses required for certification. Alternative programs typically cover teaching methods, development of lesson plans, and classroom management.



The median annual wage for career and technical education teachers was $58,110 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $35,830, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $96,730.

Job Outlook

Overall employment of career and technical education teachers is projected to grow 2 percent from 2019 to 2029, slower than the average for all occupations.

Some employment growth across all types of institutions is expected over the next 10 years due to continued demand for career and technical education programs in middle schools, high schools, and postsecondary institutions. However, this growth is expected to be reduced somewhat as schools continue to require students to take more academic classes.

Similar Job Titles

Agricultural Education Teacher, Allied Health Teacher, Business Education Teacher, Cosmetology Teacher, Drafting Instructor, Family and Consumer Sciences Teacher (FACS Teacher), Instructor, Technology Education Teacher, Vocational Teacher, Business Education Teacher, Business Teacher, Career and Technology Education Teacher (CTE Teacher), Computer Teacher, Family and Consumer Sciences Teacher (FACS Teacher), Industrial Arts Teacher, Industrial Technology Teacher, Technology Teacher, Commercial Art Instructor, Computer-Aided Drafting and Designer Instructor, Electrical Technology Instructors, Electronics Technology Instructors

Related Occupations

Elementary School Teacher (except Special Education), Middle School Teacher (except Special Education), Recreation Workers, First-Line Supervisor of Personal Service Workers, Secondary School Teacher (except Special Education)


More Information

The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field.  Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas.  As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.


Magazines and Publications

Video Transcript

Being a teacher doesn’t always mean working in a classroom… career and technical education teachers can also instruct students in workshops, fields and kitchens. Career and technical education teachers teach students practical subjects to prepare them for a future career in fields such as auto repair, agriculture, healthcare fields, or culinary arts. Like all teachers, career and technical education teachers develop lesson plans and assignments, grade student work, enforce classroom rules, and discuss student progress with students and parents. These teachers focus especially on hands-on skills. They provide academic instruction as well as developing activities for students to practice actual work tasks. Students might replace brakes on cars, take blood pressure, or write a simple computer program. Teachers typically oversee these tasks in school workshops and laboratories, where safety is an important consideration. Some develop relationships with local organizations to create work experiences for advanced students. Most career and technical teachers work typical school hours in public middle- or high schools, following the traditional 10-month school year with a 2-month break during the summer. They may attend meetings before and after classes. Career and technical education teachers must have a bachelor’s degree and work experience in the field they teach. Public school teachers generally need a state certification or license.

Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH,
CareerOneStop, O*Net Online