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What Career and Technical Education Teachers Do

Career and technical education teachers help students in middle school and high school develop career-related and technical skills. They help students explore or prepare to enter a particular occupation, such as one in auto repair, healthcare, business, or the culinary arts.


Career and technical education teachers typically do the following:

Career and technical education teachers use a variety of methods to help students learn and develop skills.

They teach students the theories and techniques of their field and the laws and regulations that affect that industry. They demonstrate tasks, techniques, and tools used in the field.

They also assign hands-on tasks, such as styling hair on mannequins and replacing brakes on cars, to help students develop skills. Students typically practice these tasks in laboratories in the school.

In addition, teachers use work-based experiences to help students apply what they have learned in the classroom to real-world settings. Some students use class time to work at a business that is willing to let them learn on the job; the business then provides feedback about the student’s performance to the teacher. In some schools, students run businesses that are owned by the school, such as a school store, to apply their knowledge and skills in a nonclassroom setting.

Some career and technical education teachers teach in traditional schools. These teachers may be part of a career academy, where they work closely with academic colleagues to create a career-themed school within a school. Others teach in regional career and technical education centers that serve students from many districts. Some teach in a career and technical education high school, where students are in workshops and laboratories for most of the school day.

What career and technical education teachers do depends on their particular field. The following are examples of types of career and technical education teachers:

In agricultural science, students learn a variety of subjects related to the science and business of agriculture. Classes may cover topics such as agricultural production; agriculture-related business; veterinary science; and plant, animal, and food systems. Teachers in this field may have students plant and care for crops or tend to animals to apply what they have learned in the classroom.

Career and technical education teachers in family and consumer science teach students about nutrition, culinary art, sewing, and child development. Students in these settings may run early childhood education classes with teacher supervision, manufacture and market clothing, or create menus and cook for a school function.

In health-related occupations, students learn the skills necessary to work as technicians or assistants, such as nursing or dental assistants, in health care. Teachers in this field may have students practice their skills by measuring blood pressure and administering blood sugar tests on other staff in the school. Some programs allow students to receive the certifications necessary to enter the field.

Business and marketing students learn the skills needed to run a business or make sales. They learn the basics of financial management and marketing. Career and technical education teachers in this field may guide students as they develop and establish a business. Many programs operate school-based enterprises in which students operate real businesses that are open to the public.

Career and technical education teachers in trade and industry specialize in an occupation such as in automotive technology, cosmetology, heating and air-conditioning repair, electrical wiring, or computer networking and computer repair. Teachers use laboratory work to allow students to learn through a hands-on approach.

Career and technical education teachers in technology instruct students in general education subjects, such as math and science, through the hands-on application of technology. For example, they may have students build a robot to learn about physics, computer science, and math. These programs are often a precursor to engineering degrees.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition