Technology is increasingly becoming a component of basic literacy. Most jobs today require some degree of technical know-how, whether it's data analysis for business or financial roles, medical device and health informatics expertise for health care professionals, educational technology for K-12 teachers, or advanced information system maintenance for IT workers. Online degrees in technology education prepare instructors to help today's workforce develop technology skills.
Technology education programs offer aspiring teachers a broad education in both the technologies used in many industries and the methods for teaching these technologies to K-12 students and adults. As one online master's degree from Ball State University puts it, the program trains graduates to develop a "theoretical and practical understanding of technological content, pedagogy and research [and] to effectively implement" this knowledge in the classroom.
Sample course titles in technology education include:
- Strategies and materials for career and technical education
- Curriculum development in technology education
- Standards-based technology curriculum for K-12
- Communication and information systems training
- Technology education for elementary school
- Technology use and assessment
- Research in technical education
Technology teachers may work with any sector of the population, from elementary school children to mid-career adults. Some of the technology subjects they teach include basic computer use, manufacturing processes, industrial technologies such as lasers and robots, graphic design and multimedia, health informatics, scientific technologies, and transportation systems. Technology educators generally specialize in a type of technology, target group of students or specific industry.
Online degrees in technology education
Technology educators typically have a college degree in education, either at the bachelor's or master's level. Both online education degrees are available in a digital media format convenient for working professionals. Many online programs place students in a local classroom to practice their teaching skills as part of a hands-on practicum. Common degree programs include the following:
- Bachelor of Science. The four-year degree is the standard minimum credential for K-12, adult vocational and corporate technical educators.
- Master of Arts or Science. The two-year graduate degree requires advanced coursework and an independent research project.
- Master of Education. The two-year professional educator master's degree offers advanced coursework with an emphasis on applied training for the classroom.
In addition, some programs offer a certificate in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) or technology education for teachers who already have an undergraduate degree.
Careers in technology education
Technology educators at the middle and high school levels are generally required to hold a bachelor's degree and meet state licensing requirements. At the college level, a master's or doctoral degree is often required for teaching positions. Some technology educators may also find work in support roles helping teachers or institutions coordinate technology and technological resources.
According to the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association (ITEEA), there has been a serious shortage of technology educators since the late 1990s. In 2006, the ITEEA estimated a shortage of 13,000 technology educators nationwide. Technology teachers are in particularly high demand in certain regions of the U.S., reports the American Association for Employment in Education, including the Great Plains and Midwest, Southeast, Mid-Atlantic states and the Northeast.
Technology education at a glance
- Salaries: The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a mean annual salary of $56,011 for career and technical educators at the high school level in 2010. At the college level, computer science teachers earned $78,190.
- Employment: Estimates of the technology educator shortage range from 9,000 to 13,000 positions, but all reports see an urgent and persistent need for trained teachers in STEM fields.
- Education: A bachelor's degree or higher is generally required to work as a technology educator.