College and other vocational instructors (NOC 4021)

High opportunity occupation

About this job

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

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

Watch the video below to see what a day in the life of a vocational instructor is like.

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


In general, college and other vocational instructors:

  • Teach students using lectures, demonstrations, discussion groups, laboratory work, shop sessions, seminars, case studies, field assignments, and independent and group projects
  • Develop curriculum and prepare outlines and teaching materials for courses
  • Prepare, administer and mark tests and papers
  • Advise students on educational programs and careers
  • Supervise independent and group projects, field placements, laboratory work and hands-on training
  • Give one-on-one tutorials and instruction
  • Supervise teaching assistants
  • Keep subject matter current

College and other vocational instructors may specialize in particular fields of study such as visual arts, dental hygiene, welding, engineering technology, policing, computer software, management or early childhood education.

Some instructors serve on committees that deal with budgets, curriculum, administration, and course and diploma requirements. Some may offer consulting services to government, businesses and other organizations.

Work environment

College and other vocational instructors typically teach in clinical, classroom or lab settings. They usually work during regular daytime hours, but may have some evening work. They must also be available to students during designated hours, either in person or by email, telephone or video conference. They have flexibility in terms of scheduling their time for course preparation, grading and research. Online courses also offer flexibility.

Adult education instructors often teach during evenings or on weekends. Those who work as corporate trainers or training officers must cater to the schedules of the client’s workplace and its workers. They may need to travel and perform administrative tasks.

Instructors may share offices. They may also teach at more than one school, which can mean travel between workplaces.

Technology is changing the work environment for instructors. Both public and private colleges are increasing online learning options for students. As a result, instructors need to be familiar with the associated technology.

Insights from industry

Since this is a very large occupational group, many openings are expected. But the trend toward part-time and part-year employment, including session and contract work, means that workers may not get full-time employment immediately. This trend will have less of an impact on vocational instructors, many of whom already teach part time while also working in the field.

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

Demand for college and other vocational instructors also varies based on the area of specialization. For example, increasing demand by businesses for skills upgrading, particularly in technical and applied technology fields, will increase demand for instructors in these areas.

The number of private post-secondary institutions that provide technical, vocational and language training has grown considerably. These schools 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 often find temporary positions as instructors or instructional assistants. With experience, they may move to regular part-time and then full-time positions.

College and other vocational instructors with long-term experience may progress to administrative positions. Those with strong academic qualifications may fill senior administrative positions such as department head, associate dean, dean or vice-president of academics or education.

Additional resources