Engineering Teacher Job Description
Engineering is one of the most popular majors at the undergraduate and graduate level. Many secondary schools are also starting to offer engineering classes to meet the need for better science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. Engineering teachers are the educators who lead these classes.
Many engineering teachers specialize in a particular area of engineering, such as mechanical, civil, chemical, biomedical, or agricultural engineering. However, there are some educators who teach students about general engineering principles. Most engineering teachers are employed full time at postsecondary schools, but some teachers also work part time or educate students at the secondary level.
Engineering Teacher Duties and Responsibilities
Specific job duties for engineering teachers vary based on their employer. However, there are several core tasks common to all engineering teachers, such as:
Engineering teachers determine course objectives and then design a curriculum to help students achieve these objectives. This involves determining what to teach, when to teach it, and how to teach it.
Design Learning Environments
Student do most of their learning in a classroom environment. Engineering teachers design learning environments that are engaging and conducive to different styles of learning.
Engineering teachers assess student learning progress through formal and informal assessments. They communicate assessment data to stakeholders and, when appropriate, use assessment data to adjust instruction.
Advising students on education and career matters is an integral part of teaching. Engineering teachers frequently advise students in formal sessions before or after class.
Collaborate with Other Educators
Engineering teachers often collaborate with other educators, including other teachers and administrative professionals. This is especially true of engineering teachers who teach a class that is part of a series of courses required to complete a certificate, diploma, or degree program.
Engineering Teacher Skills and Qualifications
Engineering teachers not only possess subject matter knowledge, but they also know how to pass it on to their students in a clear and effective manner. Many employers prefer candidates with a master’s degree and the following skills:
- Subject matter knowledge – engineering teachers understand scientific laws and engineering principles, including energy sources and applications, machine systems, and material behavior
- Teaching skills – the ability to plan course content, select applicable teaching materials, and assign appropriate coursework is important since engineering teachers are responsible for developing curriculum and teaching students new skills
- Research experience – to have credibility and value in the classroom, engineering teachers conduct necessary research to stay up to date on emerging industry news and trends
- Problem-solving skills – engineering teachers design experiments, utilize modeling, and apply critical thinking and logic to solve a variety of engineering problems
- Interpersonal skills – engineering teachers have strong interpersonal skills; they build rapport with students and communicate clearly and effectively with colleagues and administrators
Tools of the Trade
Engineering teachers often use the following tools in the course of their work:
- Classroom technology (3D printers, interactive whiteboards, etc.)
- Software (MATLAB, GNU Octave, etc.)
- Classroom response systems
Engineering Teacher Education and Training
A bachelor’s degree in engineering or teaching is the minimum requirement for individuals who teach engineering at the high school level. Engineering teachers need a master’s degree in engineering or teaching (with some graduate-level hours in engineering) to teach at community colleges, technical schools, or career schools. Four-year colleges and universities typically seek applicants with a doctoral degree in engineering. Many institutions prefer candidates with teaching experience or hands-on work experience in the engineering field.
According to state laws, teachers at the elementary, middle school, and high school levels need a license to teach in a public school. These requirements do not apply to teachers at the postsecondary level. Engineering teachers can earn voluntary certification in their area of expertise from various organizations. For example, geotechnical engineers can earn geotechnical engineering certification from the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Engineering Teacher Salary and Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), engineering teachers at the secondary level earn a median annual wage of $59,000. The highest-paid secondary teachers (in the top 10 percent) earn nearly $88,000. The lowest-paid secondary teachers (in the bottom 10 percent) earn about $40,000.
Postsecondary engineering teachers earn a median annual wage of $98,000. The highest-paid postsecondary teachers (in the top 10 percent) earn almost $184,000. The lowest-paid postsecondary teachers (in the bottom 10 percent) earn almost $50,000. Engineering teachers at every level typically receive additional compensation in the form of benefits, such as health insurance, retirement options, and paid vacations.
According to the BLS, employment growth for secondary engineering teachers is expected to be about 4 percent through 2026. The BLS is projecting 15 percent growth for postsecondary engineering teachers in that same period due to increased college enrollment. Competition for full-time tenure-track positions is fierce since more institutions are filling vacancies with part-time, rather than full-time, staff. Engineering teachers seeking part-time positions have the best career prospects.
Want to learn more about working as an engineering teacher? We’ve compiled a list of industry resources to help you learn more about this career path:
American Society for Engineering Education – this professional organization is committed to advocating for best practices in engineering education. It provides professional development opportunities, research related to the latest teaching trends and methods, and other resources for engineering educators
Becoming a Professor: A Guide to a Career in Higher Education – this comprehensive guide was written by two educational psychology professors, Marie Iding and R. Murray Thomas. It explores the different kinds of teaching positions available at different types of institutions, making it an informative read for people who are considering a career as an engineering teacher
Teaching College: The Ultimate Guide to Lecturing, Presenting, and Engaging Students – written by Norman Eng, a doctor of education and a marketing expert, this guide for postsecondary teachers offers advice on writing a syllabus, planning lessons, and motivating students through engagement
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