So you want to be a Shop Teacher part 3: Become a Candidate for Hire

I am writing this as a guy that loves woodworking so I am very woodshop centric.  However the information in this blog holds true for a wide range of Career and Technical Education classes: Home Economics, Culinary Arts, Criminal Justice, Cosmetology, Metal Shop, Business Auto, Welding, Trades, Drafting, Graphics and Multimedia.  If you want to get hired to teach a cooking class much of the advice below will work for you.

Next this is advice is specific to Virginia, your state will have differences but the steps you would take to become a teacher would be similar.  To teach in Virginia you need a license, there are several ways to get a license but you can get hired and start teaching without a license.  

Get to know your school district.  The school division may not offer cabinet making, but they do offer advanced manufacturing which is similar.  Get to know the people: teachers, administrators and central office CTE administrators.  Send them an email, attend a curriculum night, career fair, or sign up to be a sub.

Take the test: Before you start these next paths I recommend that you take a pass any tests that are required by your state if possible.  In Virginia the Praxis 1 and 2 are required.  The Praxis 2 is specific to content areas: tech. ed., business, etc.  You do not need a four year degree specifically in technology education to pass these tests.  I have had numerous people pass the Praxis 2 for technology education by studying using ETS study guide and vocabulary from a Technology Education textbook.  As an administrator if I see that a person has taken and passed the Praxis 2 prior to applying I know that they are serious about career switching.

Choose a path to licensure before you apply to for a position.

The college route: pretty self explanatory go to college and get into a program that offers teacher credentialing in an area you are interested in.  You might have to look around the amount of universities offering teaching credentials is in decline.  If you have a degree you might want to look at an add-on certification or graduate degree for licensure.  Please note this is a singular path to becoming a teacher.  If you are not going to college to be a teacher you will probably use a combination of the paths below.  But this could be a 2 to 4 detour on your path to teaching.

Provisional Licensure: In Virginia we have a provisional licensure.  A person can be hired as a teacher if they have qualifications, but they do not have a teaching license.  The must earn a license with in 2 years.  An example would be a person with an engineering degree can be hired to teach STEM.  Once you are hired you may need to take classes or participate in a career switching program.

Graduate Cohort: A great way to attain licensure is to get a master’s degree.  Many universities pair licensure and graduate programs.  You might even be fortunate enough to have a graduate cohort in your local area.  Usually classes meet in a local school and the professor comes to the students.

Career Switching Programs: Many states have career switching programs that are focused on getting people into teaching.  Virginia has many career switcher programs and I have had several staff members graduate from EducateVA.

Should I start in a career switching program before looking for a teaching job?  Yes if you have the time and the funds.  If you are retiring from a job and you have time because you will not get a teaching job in February then yes.  If you are getting out the military and your state has a combat to the classroom program then yes.  But you can get hired first then start a switching program.  If you are short on funds you maybe able to get hired and take advantage of tuition reimbursement programs your division offers.

Technical Professional: Are you a working professional that does not have 4 year degree?  Your state may have an option for you to become a licensed Trade and Industrial Teacher.  In Virginia a person with a required amount of on the job experience can become a licensed teacher in a wide variety of Career and Technical Education areas.  You may need to take some classes or get some certifications after you get hired, but this is the way most trade and industrial teachers earn a teaching license.

Find a position and apply for it. 

Take your time and make sure your resume and application is free from errors.  Double check everything and then have a friend or family member check everything.  I am not an English teacher and I make errors all the time, but nothing sours me on a candidate like errors on a resume or application.  Make sure these documents are prefect.  Emphasize your experience that is related to education.  Coaching, training employees, mentoring, teaching adults, teaching Sunday school are items you want to include.  Find references that are supervisory and list them in your application, I don’t want friends or colleagues.  If you are struggling to find references list parents of children you may have coached or possibly adults you have trained.

Send a cover letter and resume to the Principal of the school and the Director of Human Resources.  

You do this and I know you are serious.  Additionally this might light a fire so to speak.  If you send me resume I am assuming you are sending resumes to other schools.  So I might call you in for an interview ahead of my timeline for hiring.

Know the season.

There is a hiring season in education, it is March to October.  During this time positions get approved by school boards, then posted.  Current teachers commit to the following year, transfer or opt out.  This creates positions and then they are posted.  If it is December you should concentrate on finding a licensure program and preparing for the Praxis.  In May you should be applying for jobs, no matter where you are in the process.

The process above can be a great deal of work and take years to complete.  If your resume comes across my desk for a critical need position (and most CTE positions are) and you look like a promising candidate.  I will drop everything and contact you for an interview.  If you have a good interview I will try to verify references with in three days so HR can hire you in less than two days.  In a week or less you can be on path to a new and rewarding career in education.  Or in less than a week you may have a fully equipped woodshop of your own.


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