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Become An Adult Educator

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Working As An Adult Educator

  • Training and Teaching Others
  • Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others
  • Getting Information
  • Coaching and Developing Others
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Deal with People

  • $59,228

    Average Salary

What Does An Adult Educator Do

Adult literacy and high school equivalency diploma teachers instruct adults in basic skills, such as reading, writing, and speaking English. They also help students earn their high school equivalent diploma.

Duties

Adult literacy and high school equivalency diploma teachers typically do the following:

  • Plan and teach lessons to help students gain the knowledge and skills needed to meet their goals, such as learning English or earning their high school equivalent diploma
  • Adapt teaching methods based on students’ strengths and weaknesses
  • Emphasize skills that will help students find jobs, such as learning English words and common phrases used in the workplace
  • Assess students for possible learning disabilities
  • Monitor students’ progress
  • Help students develop study skills
  • Connect students to other resources in their community, such as mental health services or job placement services

Before students enter these education programs, their educational level and skills are assessed. These assessments are typically performed by another staff member; however, in some programs the teacher may conduct the assessments. Based on the results of the assessment and student’s goals, teachers develop an individualized education program.  

Teachers must formally evaluate their students periodically to determine their progress and potential to go on to the next level of classes. However, they may informally evaluate their students’ progress continually.

Adult literacy and high school equivalency diploma teachers often have students of various education levels in their classes. As a result, teachers need to use different teaching strategies and methods that meet all of their students’ needs. They may work with students in classes or tutor them one-on-one.

Teachers prepare students for further education and help them to develop skills that they will need in the workplace. For example, they may teach students how to read a contract or how to estimate the cost of materials needed to remodel a kitchen. 

There are three basic types of education that adult literacy and high school equivalency diploma teachers provide:

Adult basic education classes teach students the basics of reading, writing, and math. Students who enter these classes usually do not have a high school diploma. They generally are 16 years or older and need to gain proficiency in these skills to improve their job situation.

High school equivalency and adult secondary education classes prepare students to take the test to earn a high school equivalent diploma. Some programs are combined with career preparation programs so that students can earn a high school equivalent diploma and a career-related credential at the same time.

The high school equivalency exam is composed of four subjects: language arts, math, science, and social studies. In addition to teaching these subjects, teachers also help their students improve their skills in communicating, critical thinking, and problem solving—skills they will need to prepare for further education and successful careers.

English as a Second Language (ESL), also called English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), classes teach students to read, write, and speak English. Students in these classes are immigrants to the United States or those whose native language is not English.

ESL teachers often focus on helping their students with practical vocabulary for jobs and daily living. They also may focus on preparing their students to take the citizenship exam.

ESL teachers may have students from many different countries and cultures in their classroom. Because the ESL teacher and the students may not share a common native language, ESL teachers must be creative in fostering communication in the classroom to achieve their education goals.

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How To Become An Adult Educator

Most adult literacy and high school equivalency diploma teachers must have at least a bachelor’s degree. Employers typically prefer workers who have some teaching experience.

Education

Most states require adult literacy and high school equivalency diploma teachers to have at least a bachelor’s degree. Some employers, such as community colleges, prefer to hire those with a master’s degree or graduate coursework in adult education or English as a Second Language (ESL). Some colleges and universities offer master’s degrees or graduate certificates in teaching adult education or ESL.

Programs in adult education prepare prospective teachers to develop adult education programs, to use effective teaching strategies for adult learners, to work with students from a variety of cultures and backgrounds, and to teach adults with learning disabilities. Some programs allow these prospective teachers to specialize in adult basic education, secondary education, or ESL.

Prospective ESL teachers should take courses or training in linguistics and theories of how people learn second languages. Knowledge of a second language is not necessary to teach ESL, but it can be helpful to understand what students are going through.

Many adult literacy and high school equivalency diploma teachers take professional development classes to improve their teaching skills and ensure that they keep up with the latest research in teaching adults.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Some states require adult literacy and high school equivalency diploma teachers to have a teaching certificate to work in government-run programs. Some states have certificates specifically for adult education. Other states require teachers to have a certificate in elementary or secondary education.

To obtain a license, adult literacy and high school equivalency diploma teachers typically need a bachelor’s degree and must complete an approved teacher-training program. For more information, contact the state director of adult education. Contact information can be found from the U.S. Department of Education.

Training

In order to receive certification or licensure, teachers may need to perform fieldwork, commonly referred to as student teaching. During student teaching, they work with a mentor teacher and get experience teaching students in a classroom setting. The amount of student teaching that is required varies by state.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Adult literacy and high school equivalency teachers must collaborate with other teachers and program administrators. In addition, they talk with students about their progress and goals, and must explain concepts in terms that students can understand.

Cultural sensitivity. Teachers must be able to work with students from a variety of cultural, educational, and economic backgrounds. They must be understanding and respectful of their students’ backgrounds and be familiar with their concerns.

Patience. Working with students of different abilities and backgrounds can be difficult. Teachers must be patient when students struggle with material.   

Resourcefulness. Adult literacy and high school equivalency diploma teachers must respond appropriately to difficult situations and think on their feet. For example, they need to be able to alter their teaching methods to meet the needs of each student they teach and find ways to keep students engaged in learning.

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Adult Educator Demographics

Gender

Female

66.2%

Male

31.6%

Unknown

2.3%
Ethnicity

White

65.0%

Hispanic or Latino

14.4%

Black or African American

11.4%

Asian

5.9%

Unknown

3.4%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

56.8%

French

10.8%

Russian

8.1%

Italian

8.1%

Bulgarian

2.7%

Chinese

2.7%

Vietnamese

2.7%

German

2.7%

Hebrew

2.7%

Cheyenne

2.7%
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Adult Educator Education

Schools

Walden University

8.8%

Liberty University

7.4%

University of Kentucky

5.9%

National Louis University

5.9%

Northeastern Illinois University

5.9%

University of Phoenix

5.9%

University of Wisconsin - Platteville

4.4%

Chicago State University

4.4%

University of Central Oklahoma

4.4%

Strayer University

4.4%

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

4.4%

Fordham University

4.4%

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

4.4%

Capella University

4.4%

West Virginia University

4.4%

Northeastern University

4.4%

Notre Dame of Maryland University

4.4%

Florida State University

4.4%

Southern New Hampshire University

4.4%

University of Illinois at Chicago

2.9%
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Majors

Elementary Education

15.4%

Education

13.0%

Business

8.7%

Psychology

7.2%

English

6.3%

Educational Leadership

5.3%

Special Education

4.8%

Teaching English As A Second Language

4.3%

School Counseling

3.8%

Communication

3.8%

Social Work

3.4%

Secondary Education And Teaching

3.4%

Management

2.9%

Mental Health Counseling

2.9%

Law

2.9%

Fine Arts

2.4%

Curriculum And Instruction

2.4%

Nursing

2.4%

Public Administration

2.4%

Criminal Justice

2.4%
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Degrees

Masters

43.0%

Bachelors

22.7%

Other

14.2%

Certificate

7.6%

Doctorate

7.0%

Associate

4.7%

Diploma

0.6%

License

0.3%
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Top Skills for An Adult Educator

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  1. Class Instruction
  2. Curriculum
  3. Language
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Key Responsibilities and Achievements: Develops class syllabus, appropriate class materials & curriculum for class instruction.
  • Participated in soliciting appropriate curriculum resources to improve the quality of educational instructions and maintaining inventory for budget considerations.
  • Delivered instruction to English language learners varying in aptitude to improve their English reading, writing, and spelling skills.
  • Developed and delivered individual and group ESL instruction to adults seeking skills for more effective English communication in international careers.
  • Establish the adult literacy unit.

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Top Adult Educator Employers

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Jobs From Top Adult Educator Employers

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