Vocational Teacher Preparation: The United States

  • Chris ZirkleEmail author
Reference work entry


The first federal legislative and financial involvement in the development of formal vocational education programs in the United States, the Smith-Hughes Act of 1917, required teacher preparation in vocational education. Historically, there have been two pathways to vocational teacher certification/licensure. The first is focused on a traditional teacher preparation model, using colleges and universities with degree programs consisting of general education, technical content, and teacher pedagogy, including student teaching. An alternative pathway has relied on work experience in the discipline in which certification/licensure is sought, supplemented by a teacher education program at a university. These differing pathways have existed for over 100 years. Vocational education in the United States has suffered from negative perceptions of quality and effectiveness, and vocational teachers have also been subject to concerns regarding their teaching abilities. The alternative preparation route has had widely diverse requirements and pedagogical preparation from state to state, due to the decentralized US educational system. As a result, vocational teacher preparation is not standardized across the United States. In addition, vocational schools using the alternative route to employ teachers have faced challenges in recruiting and retaining teachers from private industry. Another current challenge facing vocational teacher preparation in the United States is the reduction in financial support for vocational education programs, despite the need for skilled labor throughout the country. This has led to a corresponding reduced number of colleges and universities providing vocational teacher preparation programs. At a time when high-quality vocational teachers are needed, these and other concerns and challenges face the field.


Teacher education Career and technical education Vocational education Vocational teachers 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Volker Wedekind

There are no affiliations available

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