How to Become an Adult Education Teacher

Keep your edge, teaching adults in the growing field of adult education.

With improved health care increasing life expectancies, and new technologies requiring older practitioners to seek continuing education, adults now have an abundance of opportunities to keep learning. Adult education teacher institutions offer personal enrichment, recreational, academic and vocational courses in areas as diverse as cooking, art, music, technology, math, language, and health and wellness.

Adults Teaching Adults

adult education teacher class

If you are a current or retired teacher, or are looking for extra work, becoming an adult education teacher may be the perfect fit for you. Most adult education instructors teach adults part time and have a passion for their subjects and their students. Many teach on weekends or at night.

From week-long self-enrichment workshops to year-long certification courses, adult education teachers offer a variety of class types and schedules.

Here are some things to keep in mind as you plan your career in adult education:

  • Determine the specifics of the classes you want to teach.
  • Find a university, community college or other venue or program that will include you in their curriculum.
  • Plan your course and gather or create materials for your class.
  • Depending on the venue, you may need to promote, advertise and market your own classes.

Work Environment

Once you start looking, you will find that opportunities to teach adult education courses are nearly everywhere. Universities and community colleges have full quarterly schedules of self-enrichment and continuing education classes. Public schools often have dance or music classes for adults at night or on the weekends. Local grocery and specialty stores offer cooking classes, and technology companies offer computer classes at night. Hospitals and private healthcare practitioners offer workshops on health and wellness, parenting, grieving and nutrition; and health clubs offer exercise and yoga classes. Senior and community centers are often excellent places to teach specialty courses for patrons of all ages, including various art and performing skills, outdoor recreation and academic endeavors.

Education and Training

Education and training requirements for adult education teachers vary as much as the industry's scope. If you are a cook, specific culinary school training qualifies you to teach cooking at community colleges; however, if you are a house builder with just a high school education or vocational training, you are still qualified to teach a class on house framing at your local home improvement store or community center.

Since there is no accrediting or certifying body for most adult education options, your knowledge of your subject matter and the way you present yourself to the adult education institution will determine your qualifications. Potential employers will often want to see proof of formal training in your area when such training exists, work portfolios and recommendations. See our article, How to Become a Teacher, to learn more about requirements for certified teachers.

Is Certification Needed to Teach Adults?

Many adult education courses require no particular certification beyond a knowledge and experience in your subject matter. However, credentials are often a plus when applying for adult education teaching positions.

For example, if you are teaching adults in a professional editing course at an experimental college at a state university, you will probably be a professional editor yourself, which requires a degree in writing or English, with several years of experience in editing. If you teach adult classes on wine tasting, you will most likely need a certificate from a certifying body in the wine field, such as the six-month course given by the International Sommelier Guild.

Self-enrichment courses for adults add a great deal to people's quality of life, and are very popular. If you have marketable skills in a particular area, you may find it satisfying—personally and monetarily—to teach adults in these varied education scenarios.