Preparing, Licensing, and Certifying Postsecondary Career and Technical Educators

Publication February 2002

The purpose of this paper is to synthesize the literature that is available on preparing, licensing, and certifying postsecondary career and technical educators. In addition, the paper sought to discuss various methods that could be used to prepare, license, and certify postsecondary career and technical educators. After examining the literature in the areas of preparing, licensing, and certifying career and technical educators, it can be seen that the majority is at the secondary, not postsecondary, level. Furthermore, when trying to identify the basic requirements of each state for postsecondary career and technical education (CTE) teachers, it became evident that this information is not readily available, and is sometimes even confusing within states. With these concerns identified, the author wants to state up front that empirical evidence to clearly guide CTE administrators, college faculty, and policymakers on preparing, licensing, and certifying postsecondary career and technical educators is lacking. This paper presents an overview of the information that was available and presents methods that could be used—and would definitely need to be examined through a systematic research plan—to examine the impact on student achievement.

Career and technical education (CTE) administrators at the postsecondary level are challenged to fill faculty vacancies with individuals who are prepared and qualified to deliver CTE instruction. Indeed, this is not a new problem for CTE. In 1985, Erekson and Barr reported that at the secondary-level, provisional certificates were being issued to relieve the shortage of occupational skills teachers. Since then, programs for alternative and emergency certification have grown, and in 2000, Ruckel reported that 115 programs exist in over 40 states, and more than 250 colleges are involved in some type of alternative certification program. These findings suggest filling classrooms with qualified teachers is not only problematical for CTE positions, but for many fields within education.

The responsibility of filling these positions will continue as an increasing concern, with the escalating shortage of teachers in CTE fields (Wright, 2001a). With a lack of licensed teachers available to fill positions in the secondary schools, many alternative options are being pursued to qualify teachers to enter the classroom. These challenges not only face secondary career and technical educators, but also affect other levels of education, such as community and technical colleges.

The field of CTE is faced with the charge to place qualified instructors into the postsecondary classroom. Career and technical teacher preparation programs have reported a shortage of teachers and a reduction in the number of programs across the nation (Lozada, 1999). In 1994, Lynch reported that colleges and universities in the United States have decreased their capacity to train teachers for the CTE field. As a consequence of the reduction of programs, Lynch (1994) stated the enrollment of students in career and technical teacher preparation programs has also declined. These factors have caused the elimination of CTE teacher preparation programs across the nation. In turn, this will have a bearing on the number of individuals who seek to pursue a degree to teach CTE at the secondary and postsecondary levels.

An examination of the Occupational Outlook Handbook (2000–01) shows the fastest growing careers are in CTE areas. Many of the fields included within the high-pay areas that have growth potential are computer support specialists, registered nurses, secondary teachers, computer programmers, police patrol officers, paralegals and legal assistants, commercial artists, and medical and health service managers. In addition, other CTE areas are experiencing high growth, including database administrators, personal care and home health care aides, medical assistants, physician assistants, data processing equipment repairers, health information technicians, physical therapy assistants and aides, and dental assistants. These forecasts, combined with the associate degree being the projected education and training in highest demand from 1998 to 2008, will cause an even greater demand for teachers at the community and technical college level (U.S. Department of Labor, 2001).

Properly prepared and qualified CTE instructors are needed to educate and train students to be productive in many of the careers that are showing growth trends for the future. Faculty in CTE must have competence in the technical field, as well as the field of teaching and learning. Degree programs, many traditional in nature, are available to prepare career and technical educators to enter the classroom. Yet, despite these conditions, community and technical colleges are still challenged to acquire career and technical educators who are prepared. In addition, it is challenging for qualified faculty in CTE to stay abreast of changes in their fields.

Bartlett, J. E., II. (2002, February). Preparing, licensing, and certifying postsecondary career and technical educators. Columbus, OH: National Dissemination Center for Career and Technical Education.

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