Teaching shop is one of the best jobs on Earth. I firmly believe that, hopefully by the end of this blog series you might believe that too. Imagine this, you love woodwork, you are a maker or you like learning to build new things; someone offers you a full time job with a fully functioning woodshop or makerspace, you have a large budget for tools and projects, you get to work with a new group of dynamic people each year, you get to choose the projects that get built, and you are rewarded by contributing to the growth of knowledge and skill of young people. By the way this job has paid vacation-3 months and if it snows we don’t work. This is not a dream, its a real opportunity.
Being a shop teacher is a really sweet gig and it might be the career for you. My goal is to get more woodworkers, makers, shop guys to make the jump into education. This blog will be organized into the following parts to organize the steps one would take to becoming a teacher:
- The state of shop classes in America
- The Pros and Cons of becoming a Shop teacher
- How to become a candidate for hire
- Choosing the right school for you
- How to be the Shop teacher
The state of shop classes in America:
Currently in the United States there is a diverse offering of shop classes, but the names or branding of programs vary widely state to state. Many localities did away with woodshop but many localities modernized or changed the names of programs. Currently in the United States there is a dire need for shop teachers, but few or none of the job postings will say: shop teacher needed. In the Commonwealth of Virginia if you want to teach shop you need to look for teaching jobs in these areas: Technical Education, CTE Teacher, Technology Education, Engineering Education, STEM Education, Vocational Education, Trade and Industry Education.
Then you would aggregate those jobs by course offerings v. your interests ie: maker projects, wood shop, metal shop, or something specific like automotive. In Virginia if you wanted to teach woodshop you would want to be in a school that offers or is willing offer the following courses: construction, carpentry, manufacturing, cabinet-making, or materials and processes. If you are interested in maker style projects you would look for courses like: STEM, Engineering, Mechatronics, or Project lead the way. A job posting generally will not include classes to be taught but you can call the school and the Supervising Administrator should be able to quickly tell you the courses associate with a job posting.
There are many jobs out there for people that want to teach Shop class. But you need to know the specific terminology used in your locality so you can search and find the right job for you.
Right now the pendulum is swinging towards hands-on, project based, skills oriented classes. In the past many localities did away with vocational education or shop classes. The motivating factors to bring these classes back or keep them in place has never been stronger. But the primary factor for the life and death of shop classes: quality teachers. Programs with good teachers stay in place and grow. Programs and shop classes without teachers quickly die off.
I am calling all makers, woodshop guys, engineers, builders, gearheads, blacksmiths, weekend warriors. If you like to work with tools, if you like to solve problems, if you like to build things and you like to help others learn: We need you to teach Shop class! Without you taking the reins, hands-on, project based, and skills oriented classes will not be available for the younger generation.