College and other vocational instructors (NOC 4021)

High opportunity occupation

About this job

College and other vocational instructors teach applied arts, academic, technical and vocational subjects to students at community colleges, CEGEPs, technical and vocational institutes, language schools and other college level schools.

Want to learn more? Watch this WorkBC Career Trek video and see what it’s like to work in this type of career. 


Vocational instructor

Instructors must be able to work independently and prepare, organize and deliver teaching materials effectively.

This group includes department heads and trainers who work for private training establishments, companies, community agencies and governments to deliver in-house training and develop courses.

Common job titles
  • consultant, consultant - industry
  • department chair / head
  • instructor / teacher / lecturer, college
  • instructor, Bible college / seminary
  • instructor, CEGEP
  • instructor, conservatory of music


College and other vocational instructors:

  • teach students using a systematic plan of lectures, demonstrations, discussion groups, laboratory work, shop sessions, seminars, case studies, field assignments and independent or group projects
  • develop curriculum and prepare teaching materials and outlines for courses
  • prepare, give and mark tests and papers to evaluate students' progress
  • guide students on educational programs  and career decisions
  • supervise independent or group projects, field placements, laboratory work or hands-on training
  • give individualized tutorial/remedial instructions
  • supervise teaching assistants
  • may offer consultation services to government, business and other organizations
  • may serve on committees concerned with matters such as budgets, curriculum revision and course and diploma requirements

Special duties

Instructors in this group may specialize in particular fields or areas of study such as visual arts, dental hygiene, welding, engineering technology, policing, computer software, and management and early childhood education.

Work environment

College and vocational instructors typically teach regular daytime hours during the week, with some evening work. Instructors must be available to students during designated hours (or via email, voicemail or teleconferencing).

These occupations offer flexibility in scheduling time for course preparation, grading papers and exams or research. Scheduling flexibility is further increased by online courses. Instructors may share offices. They may also teach at more than one institution, which can mean extensive travel between places of employment.

Adult education instructors often teach during evenings or sometimes on weekends to accommodate older students. Those who work as corporate trainers or training officers must cater to the schedules of workers and/or the workplace. They must also be prepared to travel and perform administrative functions.

Insights from industry

Since this is a very large occupational group, many positions are expected. Because there is an increasing trend towards part-time employment, workers may not get full-time employment immediately.

College and vocational instructors are in demand in all regions of the province. Colleges located outside of the Lower Mainland and southern Vancouver Island regions tend to have more difficulty recruiting instructors, especially in speciality areas such as health programs and trades training. As a result, there may be more employment opportunities for instructors who are willing to work in northern and rural regions.

Demand for college and a vocational instructor also varies based on area of specialization. In some fields, such as English, there are a sufficient number of new graduates interested in instruction.

There is also increasing demand by businesses for skills-upgrading, particularly in some technical and applied technology fields, which will increase demand for instructors in these fields.

Changes in hiring practices are impacting work for college and vocational instructors. Part-time or part-year employment, including session and contract work, is becoming more common as institutions desire greater flexibility in hiring. This trend will have less impact on vocational instructors, many of whom remain up-to-date by working part time in their field of specialization and only teach part time.

Advances in technology will continue to impact the delivery of educational services. Both public and private colleges are increasing online learning options for students. As a result, many college and vocational instructors will be expected to learn the associated technology.

In recent years, the number of private post-secondary training institutions that provide technical, vocational and language training has grown considerably. These institutions often offer part-time work and contract positions, which usually pay less than equivalent positions in the public sector.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

Recent graduates typically obtain part-time session positions. With experience, these instructors may move to regular full-time positions.

College and other vocational instructors with long-term experience may progress to administrative positions in post-secondary education.

Veteran instructors with strong academic qualifications may fill senior administrative positions, such as department head, associate dean or dean.

Additional resources