In fall 1992,118,000 vocational education teachers were teaching in the nation's public secondary schools.1 Seventy-nine percent of these were of teaching in comprehensive high schools; the remaining 21 percent were employed in vocational education schools. This survey obtained information about various characteristics of vocational teachers related to their level of preparation, including their primary teaching assignments, years of teaching experience, full- or part-time status, nonteaching work experience, and educational background (Table 2). Characteristics of vocational teachers are compared with academic secondary teachers, and differences between vocational teachers teaching in vocational schools and those teaching in comprehensive high schools are also presented.
Business and office education led a list of nine vocational education fields cited as the primary teaching assignment for vocational education teachers, with 29 percent indicating business/office education was their primary assignment (Figure 1). The second largest percentage (18 percent) of vocational teachers taught courses in trade and industrial education, and 10 percent taught courses primarily in technology education and industrial arts. From 3 percent to 8 percent of vocational teachers taught classes in other specified vocational subject areas. Twelve percent of vocational teachers indicated that their primary assignment was evenly split between an academic and a vocational course. The cover page of the questionnaire in the appendix lists all vocational subjects specified along with a description of each.
Vocational teachers averaged 17 years of teaching experience, 14 of which had been in their primary teaching assignment (Figure 2). The amount of teaching experience reported by vocational teachers was similar whether they were teaching in vocational schools, where they averaged 14 years of teaching experience and 12 years teaching in their primary assignments, or in comprehensive schools, where vocational teachers reported averages of 17 years teaching and 14 years teaching in their primary subject.
Almost all vocational teachers (97 percent) taught full time in fall 1992 (Table 2). Moreover, 91 percent reported that they were currently teaching in the subject for which they had originally prepared to teach. Vocational teachers in vocational schools were more likely to report teaching in the subject for which they had prepared; 95 percent of vocational teachers in vocational high school were doing so, as compared to 90 percent of vocational teachers in comprehensive high schools. The percentage of vocational teachers in vocational high schools who were teaching full time was about the same as vocational teachers in comprehensive high schools (98 percent and 96 percent, respectively).
This profile of vocational education teachers" teaching experience was very similar to that of academic subject teachers. Academic teachers had 18 years of teaching experience and had taught in their primary assignment for 15 years, on average. Like their vocational counterparts, most academic teachers were teaching full time and in the subject area for which they had originally prepared to teach (98 percent and 92 percent, respectively).
Two-thirds (66 percent) of all vocational teachers had paid work experience in a nonteaching occupation directly related to their current primary teaching assignment, and they reported having spent an average of 10 years employed in such positions (Table 2 and Figure 3). In contrast, a much smaller percentage (19 percent) of academic teachers reported having paid nonteaching experience related to their primary teaching area. Those that did averaged only 6 years of nonteaching experience. Approximately 6 percent of both vocational and academic teachers with nonteaching work experience related to their primary teaching assignment obtained this experience in the military.
Differences were also found among vocational teachers by the type of school in which they taught. Over three-quarters (80 percent) of vocational teachers in vocational high schools had nonteaching experience, while 62 percent of vocational teachers in comprehensive high schools had such experience. The amount of nonteaching experiences followed a similar pattern, with vocational teachers in vocational high schools having nonteaching experience reporting considerably more years of nonteaching experience (15 years) than those in comprehensive high schools (8 years).
Although vocational education teachers had considerably more "real-life" experience in their field of teaching than academic teachers, they tended to have fewer years of formal schooling. Eighty-eight percent of vocational teachers had attained at least a bachelor's degree (Table 3). For 39 percent of vocational teachers a bachelor's was the highest degree attained, and 50 percent reported holding a degree above a bachelor's. Among all vocational teachers, 6 percent held an associate's degree, 4 percent indicated that an occupational license was their highest credential, and 2 percent reported that a high school diploma was the highest degree they had obtained.
In contrast, virtually all academic teachers had a bachelor's degree and over half (60 percent) held a degree higher than a bachelors.
Vocational teachers in vocational schools had fewer years of academic preparation than their comprehensive school counterparts. For example, in comprehensive high schools, 95 percent of vocational teachers possessed a bachelors degree, but only 63 percent of vocational teachers in vocational high schools held a bachelors degree. Additionally, in comprehensive schools, 55 percent of vocational teachers had achieved a degree above a bachelors compared to only 33 percent in vocational schools.
Vocational teachers in comprehensive high schools are more comparable to academic teachers than to their counterparts in vocational high schools in terms of highest degree attained. Approximately 40 percent of both groups" highest degree was a bachelors. Sixty percent of academic teachers held a degree above bachelor's and 55 percent of vocational teachers in comprehensive high schools had also gone beyond the bachelor's degree.
1The sample of schools from which the teacher sample was drawn included all public secondary schools with 11th and 12th grades and included regional vocational schools.