Teacher, Self-Enrichment Education
- Many self-enrichment teachers are self-employed or work part time.
- Teachers should have knowledge and enthusiasm for their subject, but little formal training is required.
- Employment is projected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations, and job prospects should be favorable; opportunities may vary by subject taught.
Self-enrichment teachers provide instruction on a wide variety of subjects that students take for fun or self-improvement. Some teach classes that provide students with useful life skills, such as cooking, personal finance, and time management. Others provide group instruction intended solely for recreation, such as photography, pottery, and painting. Many others provide one-on-one instruction in a variety of subjects, including singing, or playing a musical instrument. Some teachers conduct courses on academic subjects, such as literature, foreign languages, and history, in a nonacademic setting. The classes taught by self-enrichment teachers seldom lead to a degree and attendance is voluntary. At the same time, these courses can provide students with useful skills, such as knowledge of computers or foreign languages, which make them more attractive to employers.
Among self-enrichment teachers, their styles and methods of instruction can differ greatly. Most self-enrichment classes are relatively informal. Some classes, such as pottery or sewing, may be largely hands-on, with the instructor demonstrating methods or techniques for the class, observing students as they attempt to do it themselves, and pointing out mistakes to students and offering suggestions for improving their techniques. Other classes, such as those involving financial planning or religion and spirituality, might center on lectures or rely more heavily on group discussions. Self-enrichment teachers may also teach classes offered through religious institutions, such as marriage preparation or classes in religion for children.
Many of the classes that self-enrichment educators teach are shorter in duration than classes taken for academic credit; some finish in 1 or 2 days or several weeks. These brief classes tend to be introductory in nature and generally focus on only one topic—for example, a cooking class that teaches students how to make bread. Some self-enrichment classes introduce children and youth to activities such as piano or drama, and they may be designed to last from 1 week to several months.
Many self-enrichment teachers provide one-on-one lessons to students. The instructor might only work with the student for 1 or 2 hours per week and then provide the student with instructions on what to practice in the interim until the next lesson. Many instructors work with the same students on a weekly basis for years and derive satisfaction from observing them mature and gain expertise.
All self-enrichment teachers must prepare lessons beforehand and stay current in their fields. The amount of time required for preparation can vary greatly, depending on the subject being taught and the length of the course. Many self-enrichment teachers are self employed and provide instruction as part of a personal business. As such, they must collect any fees or tuition and keep records of their students’ accounts. Although not a requirement for most self-enrichment classes, teachers often use computers and other modern technologies in their instruction or to maintain their business records.
Work environment. Few self-enrichment education teachers are full-time salaried workers. Most either work part time or are self-employed. Some have several part-time teaching assignments, but it is most common for teachers to have a full-time job in another occupation, often related to the subject that they teach. Although jobs in this occupation are primarily part time and pay is relatively low, most teachers enjoy their work because it gives them the opportunity to share with others a subject that they enjoy.
Many classes for adults are held in the evenings and on weekends to accommodate students who have a job or family responsibilities. Similarly, self-enrichment classes for children are usually held after school, on weekends, or during school vacations.
Because students in self-enrichment programs attend classes by choice, they tend to be highly motivated and eager to learn. Students bring their own unique experiences to class, and many teachers find this aspect of the work especially rewarding and satisfying. Self-enrichment teachers must have a great deal of patience, however, particularly when working with young children.
Training, Qualifications, and Advancement
The main qualification for self-enrichment teachers is expertise in their subject area, but requirements vary greatly with the type of class taught and the place of employment.
Education and training. In general, there are few educational or training requirements for a job as a self-enrichment teacher beyond being an expert in the subject taught. To demonstrate expertise, however, self enrichment teachers may be required to have formal training in disciplines such as art or music, where specific teacher training programs are available. Prospective dance teachers, for example, may complete programs that prepare them to teach many types of dance—from ballroom to ballet. Other employers may require a portfolio of a teacher's work. For example, to secure a job teaching a photography course, an applicant often needs to show examples of previous work. Some self-enrichment teachers are trained educators or other professionals who teach enrichment classes in their spare time. In many self-enrichment fields, however, instructors are simply experienced in the field, and want to share that experience with others.
Other qualifications. Self-enrichment teachers should have good speaking skills and a talent for making the subject interesting. Patience and the ability to explain and instruct students at a basic level are important as well, particularly for teachers who work with children.
Advancement. Opportunities for advancement in this profession are limited. Some part-time teachers are able to move into full-time teaching positions or program administrator positions, such as coordinator or director. Experienced teachers may mentor new instructors.
Teachers of self-enrichment education held about 253,600 jobs in 2008. The largest numbers of teachers were employed by public and private educational institutions and providers of social assistance.
Employment of self-enrichment education teachers is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations, and job prospects should be favorable. New opportunities arise constantly because many of these kinds of jobs are short term and they are often held as a second job.
Employment change. Employment of self-enrichment education teachers is expected to increase over the 2008–18 period by 32 percent, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. The need for self-enrichment teachers is expected to grow as more people embrace lifelong learning and course offerings expand. Demand for self-enrichment education will also increase, as more people seek to gain or improve skills that will make them more attractive to prospective employers. Some self-enrichment teachers offer instruction in foreign languages, computer programming or applications, public speaking, and many other subjects that help students gain marketable skills. People increasingly take courses to improve their job skills, which creates more demand for self-enrichment teachers.
Job prospects. Job prospects should be generally favorable in the coming decade, as increasing demand and high turnover create many opportunities. These opportunities may vary, however, because some fields have more prospective teachers than others. Opportunities should be best for teachers of subjects that are not easily researched on the Internet and those that benefit from hands-on experiences, such as cooking, crafts, and the arts. Classes on self-improvement, personal finance, and computer and Internet-related subjects are also expected to be popular.
Median hourly wages of self-enrichment teachers were $17.17 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $12.50 and $24.98. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $9.15, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $32.68. Self-enrichment teachers are generally paid by the hour or for each class that they teach. Earnings may also be tied to the number of students enrolled in the class.
Part-time instructors are usually paid for each class that they teach, and receive few benefits. Full-time teachers are generally paid a salary and may receive health insurance and other benefits.
For More Information
For information on employment of self-enrichment teachers, contact local schools, colleges, or companies that offer self-enrichment programs.