Continuing Teacher Education

Teachers are required to renew their certificates on a periodic basis in every state, and most states require proof of some type of continuing education in order to issue a certificate renewal. The exact requirements vary from state to state, but many states require at least ten credit hours of continuing education before a teacher can apply for a renewal on an existing certificate.

States Vary on Continuing Education Requirements

The vast majority of states are on the five-year renewal cycle for teacher certificates, although six- and even ten-year cycles are not unheard of. A very few states have renewal cycles shorter than five years.

The biggest difference in how states structure their renewals is in how many continuing education hours they require for renewal and in how they calculate those hours. A common scheme is to require ten Carnegie units of study, roughly equivalent to ten college semester hours of education, per five-year renewal. However, teachers should study their states’ requirements to determine exactly how their continuing education hours are calculated.

States may also have different requirements for different grades or descriptions of educational professionals. For example, those who are classified as administrators may have different professional development requirements than teachers, and counselors or support personnel may also have separate educational requirements.

Who Teaches Continuing Education Classes?

In order to teach continuing education classes to teachers or other professionals, most instructors have a degree in adult education. Adult education degrees are usually master’s programs that are offered to professionals who hold bachelor’s degrees in an academic or an educational field. The master’s program for adult education focuses on skills and knowledge specifically designed to help teach those who teach in adult settings such as technical schools and colleges.

How Much Can I Earn As A Continuing Education Teacher?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for an adult education teacher is $65,050. This includes adult education of all descriptions, including those who teach continuing education classes for teachers and other professionals.

The annual salary of adult education professionals depends in large part on where they are employed. The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that those who work in colleges and universities earn the highest median salaries at $65,240 for those employed by four-year colleges and $67,080 for those in junior colleges. Those who are classified as educational support services earn $53,990, while those in other schools earn $51,730. Technical and trade school instructors earn a median annual salary of $43,060, the lowest median wage for this job classification.

What Is The Job Outlook for Continuing Education Teachers?

While the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that job opportunities for postsecondary teachers in general will rise by 17 percent between 2010 and 2020, many of these opportunities will actually be in continuing education fields. As more people return to school for specialized educational needs such as getting a promotion or meeting job requirements, more teachers will be needed for continuing education classes. This is especially true in the education field, where job opportunities are also expected to grow over the next ten years. This means that more people will need the help of continuing education teachers.

How Do I Become a Continuing Education Instructor?

A master’s degree in adult education or a related field can qualify you to teach continuing education classes to teachers. Many educators who specialize in helping teachers renew their certificates actually work for state departments of education or contracted firms that specialize in providing these services to school systems, such as regional educational service companies or colleges that subcontract these services to local schools.

In order to secure employment with one of these organizations, many continuing education teachers work as classroom teachers or administrators for some time before applying for these jobs. This gives them hands-on experience that is very valuable when teaching classroom teachers or administrators and helps them understand the purpose of their curriculum.

Although individual states may have requirements for those who teach continuing education courses, there is no standard for these types of positions. Many companies or organizations that hire continuing educators set their own standards based on their clients’ needs for specific classes.

Becoming a continuing education instructor can be a great compromise for someone who wants to teach but prefers to work with professional adults instead of adolescents or college students. For those with an interest in providing support to teachers to help them keep their jobs, the role of continuing educator may be a perfect fit.

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