Teaching High School Technology

The global arms race has been replaced by the global technology race. The country with the biggest economy and the fastest innovation is more likely to maintain a strong global presence. Brains, it turns out, is mightier than brawn in the 21st century.

America is ready to take technology to the next level, with new initiatives to make us more globally competitive in technology, math, and science. “Our future is on the line,” said President Barack Obama. “The nation that out-educates us today is going to out-compete us tomorrow.”

If you stop and consider the technological advances made in the 20th century, you quickly realize how vital technology education has become. Between 1900 to 2000, vacuum cleaners, air conditioners, neon lights, airplanes, robots, televisions, computers, atomic bombs, mobile phones, and the microwave oven were invented. And that’s just the tip of the frozen-ice dispenser (also invented this past century).

We’ve made computers a necessary part of school, work, and play. We feel naked without our cell phones and we habitually communicate in real time with friends, family, and neighbors via text messages and Facebook. Technology now moves so fast that a cell phone is out of date by the time a two-year cell phone contract runs out.

A student who doesn’t know how to use the latest technology will likely do poorly in college. Technology has been integrated into online classes and electronic testing. Papers are e-mailed to professors, rather than printed.

Likewise, a student without a solid foundation in technology will do poorly in the job market, where everything from a cash register to the stock market is computer-driven. Even jobs where technology was previously unimportant, such as automotive repair, are now heavily dependent on new computer technology to diagnose malfunctions in cars (many of which feature their own computer technology).

In today’s world, technology is so integrated into our lives that kindergarteners take computer classes and fourth graders deliver reports on PowerPoint.

The digital revolution has had as much impact on today’s competitive global economy as the invention of fire, one might imagine. Therefore, high school technology teachers are becoming a vital part of every facet of a student’s life.

What is it like?

Schools across the country vary widely in the availability of technology. Some schools have virtually no computers, or perhaps one computer lab accessed by all students, where they learn basic computing. Other schools will be equipped with iPads and laptops, allowing each student to use the most advanced technological tools currently available. Obviously, this is a matter of economics. Technology teachers, however, can find schools across the spectrum to be rewarding.

Text Shorthand (your students can teach you)

  • I<3U, I love you
  • ::poof::, goodbye
  • tmrrw, tomorrow
  • BTW, by the way
  • BRB, be right back
  • AFK, away from keyboard
  • np, no problem
  • 9, parents watching
  • 99, parents no longer watching

Imagine introducing a high school student to the World Wide Web, because that student has no computer access at home. Think of the awe on that student’s face. Think of the infinite possibilities that student might envision when he or she realizes just how vast the world is, and understands that all of it can be accessed with a few key clicks.

Likewise, it will be exciting to watch more technologically advanced students create sophisticated things such as software programs, animation, blogs, publications, and web stores with the resources to do so at their fingertips.

A high school technology teacher prepares students to be technologically literate. Most schools adhere to the national Standards for Technological Literacy (STL). The STL covers the history of technology and takes a broad view of the definition of technology. It’s not a simple matter of the personal computer, the mobile phone, and the Internet. It begins with the first blade and the first flame of fire. It stretches across the boundaries of time and brings us to today with periods of enormous leaps, such as those of the 20th century.

High School technology students study the world of inventors, engineers, and innovators. They learn how energy is generated from coal, natural gas, nuclear power, solar, and wind power. They examine communications systems such as telephone, radio, television, satellite communications, fiber optics and the internet, as well as their manufacturing processes. Transportation, information processing, and medical technology such as genetic engineering are all important parts of the curriculum. Students also learn about emerging technologies such as fusion power.

Tech teachers don’t spend much time looking into details, but focus more on theory and concepts of technology. They teach students about the design process, development and production, and the use and maintenance of the product. Students will also learn to evaluate the effect of technologies on society, from the macro to the micro.

Global Tech Competition

The United States faces a lot of competition in the technological revolution. Here are just a few of the recent accomplishments and innovations going on internationally:

  • European Union—publishes more scientific papers in journals annually
  • South Korea—widest usage of DSL in the world
  • Seoul, Korea—Intel, the world’s largest chipmaker, opened a research center here
  • Finland—has the most cell phone users per capita in the world
  • India—receives $1.2 billion in research and development outsourcing per year
  • China—imposes tax penalties on importers, thus encouraging companies to manufacture there

As a teacher of tech, you might have access to labs where students can tinker with technology and get a real hands-on education, depending on the district. You’ll likely have a variation in student literacy to work with, perhaps a class of novices and a class or two of advanced technowizards. Some students will simply need to understand how to work a personal computer; others may be so interested in technology that they pursue a career in one of the quickly growing technology fields such as solar or plant energy systems. Other students may become more interested in technology and energy policies and may delve into the moral dilemmas of free trade on the Internet or the long-term cost of drilling for oil in Alaska. Tying lessons into the issues of the day can make teaching the subject quite fun, due to the broad scope of the subject and the broad proficiency and interests of students.

Can I get a job?

This area of teaching is growing almost as quickly as the technology itself. As more school districts receive grants and federal funding to expand their science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs, more schools will be hiring technology teachers.

And it isn’t just the federal government that’s concerned with how technologically prepared students are becoming. Mega-companies such as Apple and Microsoft have focused on putting more money and equipment into technology education, so they won’t have to outsource tech jobs overseas. These companies and many others have expressed concern that America’s students are not prepared to innovate technologically, and so they have difficulty finding an adequately educated workforce in their own backyards.

As the economy gradually improves, teaching positions will also improve. On average, high school teaching jobs are expected to grow 17 percent by 2020, a bit faster than the average profession in the U.S.

You can improve your odds of landing your dream job if you’re geographically flexible. While there is no guarantee of an opening in your current school district, there will be openings somewhere in the United States. High-need schools in rural areas, poverty stricken districts, inner cities and districts with high minority populations are always in need of qualified teachers, thus ensuring that new graduates can find a job.

What does it pay?

The average pay of a high school teacher is a little under $55,000; starting salaries range between $30,000 and $40,000 depending on location, local cost of living and economic stability in the area. Teachers are compensated for time on the job and additional education received. There is also room for advancement. A teacher who completes a master’s degree is eligible for administrative positions, which brings a significant bump in pay.

In addition to salary, school districts usually offer very good health insurance benefits and usually provide a match for retirement funds. Teachers are also paid extra for additional duties such as lunch room supervision and serving as advisor for extra-curricular activities such as technology club or Junior Engineering Technical Society (JETS).

How do I become a high school technology teacher?

A bachelor’s degree in Technology Education is generally required, though some states will allow those who have obtained degrees in a specific type of technology. Be sure to check with your local university or state board of education to make sure you take the appropriate courses and bachelor’s program to qualify. You can access a lot of this information on the Teaching Certification website.

In addition to a bachelor’s degree, you’ll need to get a teaching certificate. This takes a few months to a year, depending on state requirements. There will be coursework, as well as a semester of student teaching. Most teaching candidates get classroom experience with a qualified mentor teacher, prior to taking on the responsibility of their own classes. Once you’ve completed the requirements for a teaching certificate, you’ll need to pass a Praxis Test or state test. This will ensure that you have a proficient level of knowledge in technology, as well as of the learning process itself.

Each state requires something different, so visit www.teaching-certification.com to find out exactly what your state requires.

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