Frequently Asked Questions About Teaching in the Career & Technical Education Field

Career and Technical Education fields include a variety of subjects including Agriculture and Natural Resources; Arts, Media, and Entertainment; Building Trades and Construction; Education, Child Development, and Family Services; Energy and Utilities; Engineering and Design; Fashion and Interior Design; Finance and Business; Health Science and Medical Technology; Hospitality, Tourism, and Recreation; Information Technology; Manufacturing and Product Development; Marketing, Sales, and Service; Public Services; and Transportation. The 15 recognized CTE fields in California result in 58 identified career pathways and many of these training programs need teachers! CTE (formerly known as vocational education) provides career-related training and certificates as well as advanced degrees to participants. The venues for CTE instruction in California range from high schools, where single subject credentials are required to teach, to adult schools and ROP (Regional Occupational Programs), to Community Colleges and private vocational schools.

CTE teachers teach in a wide variety of settings. High schools clearly offer many CTE subjects although, the amount of vocational and CTE courses taught in California's public schools has diminished over the last 3 decades. Recently, the California Department of Education has played an increasing role in bringing school administrators and board members back around to understanding the value of career and technical education. In the past decade, many high schools stopped offering CTE and other elective courses, focusing instead on requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act as well as California's Academic Performance Index and the California High School Exit Exam. Indeed, Education Department data show a 32 percent decline in CTE course offerings from the 1987-88 school year to the present, leaving jobs in the automotive, building and construction trades, engineering and manufacturing industries, and others going begging for qualified workers. Additionally, cuts resulting from the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978 resulted in decreased funding to the schools for the equipment, laboratories, costly tools and materials, and technical resources needed to provide CTE instruction.

Because of shrinking resources in the public high schools, other settings have increased their offerings of vocational coursework. The California Community Colleges are the largest provider of vocational coursework in California and at City College of San Francisco alone, 45 % of the college offerings are in the technical and CTE areas. Both credit and noncredit courses provide CTE preparation and teachers are needed for many subject areas. Public high school students often attend Community Colleges as part of their CTE coursework. The Community Colleges have been better able to provide some of the labs, materials, and industrial equipment needed in the CTE curriculum than many high schools that are forced to dismantle vocational classrooms with each round of budget cuts. Computer labs, state-of-the-art electronic equipment, science laboratories, culinary kitchens, automotive workshops, woodworking, and home economic classrooms are all examples of the type of coursework that has shifted from public high schools to other settings.

CTE teachers may also work in private, for-profit, or nonprofit vocational schools that may focus on one area of study or multiple areas of study. Another setting for CTE instruction in the public arena can be found in the Regional Occupational and Adult Education systems. ROP and Adult Education classes are often free to the participant and provide coursework related to career preparation and skill development. In San Francisco, adult education is provided through City College of San Francisco and ROP is provided by the San Francisco Unified School District in partnership with City College of San Francisco. Teachers in specific Adult Education and ROP areas are also in demand.

Because of federal requirements related to "No Child Left Behind", high school teachers must be deemed qualified and must possess a credential. A Single Subject Credential qualifies you to teach in middle and high schools where students move to different classes during the course of the day. The Single Subject Credential is available in a variety of CTE subjects including Vocational Education, Math, Science, and others. A major in your subject, as well as general undergraduate coursework, is needed to obtain this type of credential. If a teacher is teaching in a publicly funded high school, then a single subject credential is required. For example, a high school may offer a CTE Pathway in Biotechnology. Students will need courses in biology delivered by a credentialed biology teacher in addition to career-related coursework and preparation.

Another example can be found in the culinary arts. In addition to cooking and culinary experiences, students will need courses in math, science, nutrition, and even health and sanitation delivered by credentialed teachers in science, math, or health. In vocational subjects like welding or automotive arts, high school teachers still need to major in a vocational area in college and then get a credential in Vocational Education. In a high school setting, credentialed teachers need to be developed and recruited who have both teaching credentials and industry experience.

In the community college setting, teachers of academic courses need Masters of Arts or Sciences in addition to BA or BS degrees in their subjects of instruction. Teachers in vocational courses and CTE pathways often have different requirements. Community college teachers teaching in subjects where no graduate degree is available (like many CTE subjects) need a combination of experience and education to be deemed qualified. For instance, the minimum qualifications for an automotive, teacher in a noncredit class at CCSF is 6 years of industry experience, an AA degree, and the ability to be hired by the college district and clear various related requirements including a TB test, fingerprinting clearance, criminal background check, etc. Many CTE areas have similar minimum qualifications and teachers with both industry experience and academic preparation are needed. Adult education and ROP programs have a similar set of standards for occupational teachers. Of course, many teachers have more advanced degrees and more industry experience than the minimum, but all teachers also need pedagogy and training in how to actually teach what they know to adults. An Adult Education Credential can provide the "how to teach" content for Vocational and CTE teachers in adult settings. This credential consists of 4 basic courses on teaching adults and specific learning strategies for adult education and is available locally from San Francisco State University.

Because vocational education has been cut from the curriculum in so many high schools due to lack of funding, few future teachers chose vocational areas to major in college because of the perceived lack of job openings. This has created a shortage of high school, community college, and vocational school teachers in many areas related to CTE. Additionally, few teachers have the current, relevant job experience needed to provide the career support needed for many of the technical fields. Community colleges also are seeking teachers with a combination of industry experience, academic rigor and preparation, and pedagogy. This combination of skills is hard to find a subject area preparation and the ability to teach the content to others are two distinct and often unrelated skills.

Because California has a K-12 teacher shortage, some teachers are teaching with emergency permits. Typically, these teachers have a Bachelor's degree, have passed the California Basic Education Skills Test (CBEST), and are working towards specific subject mastery and/or completion of credential program requirements. Because of the federal NCLB (No Child Left Behind Regulations), the Emergency Permit will soon no longer be allowed for employment nor available in California.

Many more teachers are needed to replace teachers due to retire in the next few years, accommodate growing school districts and combat the staff shortages created by reduced class size. Teachers with expertise in the areas of math, science, and special education in addition to CTE areas are desperately needed in California, as are teachers with a broad understanding of the developmental needs of children and youth and mastery of a language other than English. Community college and adult education teachers are needed in growth industries. The nursing shortage, the demand for biotech workers, the demand for computer networking and information technology workers, the growth in service areas like hospitality and culinary arts, and the critical shortage of "traditional "blue-collar workers like electricians, welders, construction trades workers, and plumbers have created a growing need for teachers in the trades and technical pathways.

In California, it generally takes 5 years or more to become a traditionally credentialed teacher. A bachelor's degree is required plus a fifth-year consisting of coursework on the "craft of teaching" and a student teaching experience. There are accelerated programs, internship programs, and blended programs that may allow you to speed up this process.

In general, there are several distinct types of credentials granted in California, but the two most common are the "Multiple Subjects Credential" and the "Single Subject Credential." Credentials are issued by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing in Sacramento, after at least one year of post-bachelor's degree training at an approved institution. All course requirements, testing, and classroom experience requirements must be completed before students can be recommended for a credential. Special Education credentials are also available and are especially in demand in California. Additionally, some educational institutions have combined MA/Credential programs that usually take 2 or more years to complete.

The CTE field for adults is more complicated. Adults may become employed by a community college, ROP or Adult Education program with a broad array of required experience, qualifications, certificates, degrees, and credentials required. Currently, in California, there are 175 separate CTE teacher credentials, an inefficient structure that makes credentialing teachers difficult and fails to reflect industry realities. The legislation is being proposed this year to streamline the number of CTE credentials down to 15, reflecting the major industry sectors and simplifying teacher credentialing. Because the minimum qualifications for a community college teacher in a vocational program is 5 years of industry experience and an AA or AS degree, additional coursework on "how to teach" is often required. The Vocational Adult Education Credential is a 4 course credential on how to teach adults that can provide valuable pedagogy and curriculum planning content. There are additional requirements as well.

All K-12 teachers must pass the CBEST, the California Basic Education Skills Test. The purpose of the CBEST is to assess and verify acceptable proficiency in reading, writing, and mathematics skills. It's a good idea to take this test while you're still in school so that the Math and English subject matter is still fresh. The CBEST assesses your skills at the high school level, so students still in high school can take the test. The CBEST has math, reading, and writing sections. Individual sections or the entire test may be repeated. For more practice tests visit CBEST.

If you intend to get a Single Subject Credential for teaching in high school, you can either take the required courses in that subject or you must pass the appropriate subject matter test. Subject tests can be quite rigorous. For more information on subject matter tests, visit PRAXIS or CSET Both of these test companies administer single subject area tests.

If you intend to teach in a community college, adult education or public ROP program you will need a combination of academic preparation, industry experience and references. An AA degree and 5 years of industry experience is often the minimum requirement for a vocational teacher, with a BA and 3 years of experience being another option. All future teachers need to pass a variety of criminal background checks, including fingerprinting and some health screenings, like a negative TB test.

CCSF doesn't offer a bachelor's degree or a teaching credential. However, there are courses you can take that will allow you to transfer into a bachelor's degree program, acquire your bachelor's degree and then enroll in a credential program. If you already have a BA degree and are missing lower-division courses, you can take them here before entering a credential program.

CCSF does offer AA and AS degrees and when combined with at least 5 years of recent, verifiable industry experience provide the minimum requirements for community college, adult education, and ROP teachers in a number of CTE, noncredit and vocational subjects.

All students interested in teaching in CTE areas in K-12 settings are encouraged to enroll in a field experience course (CDEV 71 or CDEV 75) to obtain the field experience hours, enroll in Child Development courses to learn more about working with children and youth, enroll in an Orientation to Education course (CDEV 150) to learn about the educational history and current issues in schools today, and take the CBEST test.

Courses developed to meet the specific needs of future teachers include Physical Science 11 and Lab for Teachers, Engineering 108A & B, Hands-On Math, and CBEST Prep and CSET Prep, Learning Assistance 52 A & B.

Students interested in teaching high school or middle school are encouraged to enroll in CDEV 75, Supervised Secondary Fieldwork, Incentives are available to students interested in teaching Math or Science as they are both critical shortage areas if they want to pursue a single subject credential. Math and science teachers are often critical components of CTE Pathways in computer science, engineering, biotechnology, related health fields, and information technology areas. Students interested in teaching CTE subjects in high school need single subject credentials in Vocational Education, math, science, art, and other CTE subjects and need to major in that area and obtain a credential.

Future CTE teachers in adult education settings like community colleges, vocational schools, adult education, and ROP settings may be able to obtain much of their academic training at CCSF. Often, an AA degree, paired with recent, relevant industry experience is what is needed to teach in CTE areas. CCSF provides a range of AA degrees as well as related certificates in vocational areas. Future CTE teachers with industry experience may complete the necessary coursework needed to obtain minimum qualifications at CCSF. Teachers will often need to explain technical journals to students, describe complicated procedures orally and in writing and work with individuals and small groups of students as well as large groups in a classroom or laboratory setting. Courses such as public speaking, composition, English as a Second Language, foreign languages, mathematics, and science courses all support the teaching of technical and CTE courses in addition to industry experience. Additionally, future vocational teachers in adult settings often need a vocational credential. CCSF and SFSU will be working together to provide the adult education credential at the CCSF campus to future teachers interested in teaching in CTE and vocational areas.