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Adult Education Teachers

What Adult Educators Do ?

Adult education teachers help people earn their high school or general education diploma after they have been away from school for a period of time. Adult education teachers typically help students sharpen their skills in crucial areas of communication, such as reading, writing and speaking English, as well as help them to improve their understanding of basic math. They may employ a wide variety of teaching skills since classrooms typically are full of students with different educational backgrounds. Adult educators might also work with students from a variety of different cultures and ethnic backgrounds. They may need to work at night or on weekends since many of their students may be pursuing their GED or diploma while working full time. They could look for positions in community colleges, public schools and community-based organizations and learning institutions.

How to Become an Adult Education Teacher

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov, 2012), most states require adult education teachers to hold at least a bachelor's degree as well as a teaching certificate. Many employers prefer to hire teachers that have a master's degree, however. Employers also prefer to hire teachers that have some previous classroom experience, the BLS notes.

Bachelor's and master's degree programs in adult education are structured around studying effective teaching strategies for adult learners, which is quite different from teaching children. Most states require adult educators to hold a teaching certificate, especially for government-run adult literacy programs. Other states require certificates especially for the field of adult education. Certificates may be earned through approved teacher-training programs, which may be offered on-campus or online. Communication skills, sensitivity to different cultures and the ability to adapt teaching methods can all be important for helping a teacher to excel.

Potential Career Earnings

In 2012, there were 66,040 adult education and secondary education teachers employed in the U.S. at median annual salaries of $48,590, the BLS reports (bls.gov, 2010). The bottom 10 percent of adult educators earned less than $27,460 per year, while the top 10 percent earned more than $82,490. States with large populations -- California, Texas, New York -- employed the highest number of adult educators in 2012. However, New Jersey, California and Wisconsin were the top-paying states, offering mean hourly wages above $30 an hour.

Employment for adult literacy and general education teachers is expected to rise by 15 percent from 2010 through 2020 as continued immigration to the U.S. powers demand for more adult literacy programs, according to the BLS. Additionally, the number of Americans who cut their high school education short but wish to fulfill the goal of earning a general education diploma may be looking to compete their GED education as well. Many of these workers may look to improve their competency at reading and writing through adult education programs, the BLS indicates.

Sources:

  1. Adult Basic and Secondary Education and LIteracy Teachers and Instructors, Occupational Employment and Wages (May 2012), http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes253011.htm
  2. Adult Literacy and GED Teachers, Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-2013 Edition), http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/adult-literacy-and-ged-teachers.htm#tab-6

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MED: Curriculum and Instruction: General Education
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