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Working as an Adult Educator [NOC 4021]

Job Description

Adult education teachers teach reading, writing, English language skills, basic academic subjects, and job skills to adults.  Working as an adult educator, you:

  • Usually specialize in a specific field or profession
  • Develop curricula and prepare teaching materials
  • Teach lessons on English language skills, math, science, or other academic subjects
  • May teach technical skills or a trade, such as carpentry
  • May prepare students for GED tests (high school equivalency test)
  • May conduct workplace training
  • Prepare and mark tests and assignments, and keep records of students’ progress
  • May serve on committees to discuss budgets and course and diploma requirements

Sources: WorkBC Career Profile for Adult EducatorCareer Cruising database (Profile for Adult Education Teacher).

Industry Overview

Adult educators are in demand in all regions of the province. However, you may find more employment opportunities if you are willing to work in northern and rural regions, especially in speciality areas such as health programs and trades training.

Demand also varies based on your area of specialization. In some fields, such as English, there are a sufficient number of new graduates. There is also increasing demand by businesses for skills-upgrading. This is increasing demand for instructors, particularly in some technical and applied technology fields.

There is a growing trend towards part-time employment and you may not find full-time employment immediately.

In recent years there has been a significant growth in the number of private post-secondary training institutions that provide technical, vocational, and language training. These institutions often offer part-time work and contract positions. Typically, these positions pay less than equivalent positions in the government funded institutions.

Both public and private colleges are increasing online learning options for students. You will be expected to learn the technology associated with this form of instruction.

Source: WorkBC Career Profile for Adult Educator

Job Outlook in BC

job outlook for adult educators in B.C.
The Employment Outlook for BC provides job openings projections for adult educators within BC regions:

Region 2015-2025
Estimated Job Openings
Average Annual Employment Growth
Vancouver Island 610 1.2%
Lower Mainland / Southwest 4700 1.4%
Thompson-Okanagan 580 2.2%
Kootenay 370 1.8%
Cariboo 180 0.7%
North Coast & Nechako 130 0.7%
Northeast 190 0.95

Source: WorkBC Career Profile for Adult Educator

You can learn more about working as an adult educator

Types of Employers

Adult educators are employed by:

  • government-funded colleges and institutes
  • private career training schools
  • companies
  • community and government agencies


In British Columbia, the median annual salary is $66,739. Your wages are affected by your experience, area of expertise, and place of employment. Unionized instructors at a college usually make more than teachers at private career training schools.

In BC’s regions,Adult Educators can expect to make: 

regional hourly wages for adult educators

Table from Job Bank Canada Wage Report

Working Hours

You work a variety of hours depending on your work place. Some adult education instructors teach during evenings or weekends.  If you work as a corporate trainer you must accommodate the schedules of the workplace.  As well, you must be prepared to travel.

Part-time or part-year employment, including session and contract work, is becoming more common.

This occupation offers flexibility in scheduling time for teaching, course preparation, and grading papers and exams.  Increased offerings of online courses may also allow you greater scheduling flexibility.

Skills, Education, and Experience


  • Excellent written and oral communication
  • Critical thinking
  • Teaching/training/facilitation
  • Leadership skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Background in the subject area being taught

Education and Experience

  • Bachelor’s degree, a college diploma, or demonstrated expertise in the field of instruction is required.
  • Master’s degree in the field of instruction may be required.
  • Certificate, diploma, or degree in adult education may be required.
  • For instructors of trades, completion of apprenticeship training and industry or trade certification are required. Additional courses in teaching or a provincial teaching certificate may be required.


This occupation is not regulated in British Columbia.

Most recent entrants have an undergraduate university degree and many have a graduate degree. A certificate from the Provincial Instructor Diploma Program or degree in adult education may be required. The Provincial Instructor Diploma Program is taught through Vancouver Community College.

You can learn more about this program and other adult education certificates at:

Finding Jobs

You’ll find job advertisements in local newspapers, trade journals, and electronic sources, as well as through professional associations’ publications.

Often jobs teaching in professional college programs will not be posted but are only known through “word of mouth”. If you have a background in a specific profession, look to see which universities or colleges teach that program and contact the department head directly about possible teaching opportunities.

Local Newspapers

You can look at the Vancouver Sun and The Province at Vancouver Public Library for free. Check the job postings daily, the careers section in the Vancouver Sun on Wednesdays and Saturdays and in The Province on Sundays.

Job White Pages

  • Available online or in print at the Central Library
    NOTE: You can only access this database from the Central Library or VPL branch libraries. Access is NOT available from home or outside the Library.

Online Job Postings

Professional Associations’ Career Resources

Identifying the Right Position

When you browse job advertisements, you’ll find a wide range of different job titles that are relevant.

Look for these and other related job titles:

  • college teacher, (academic, technology, or vocational)
  • college instructor
  • community college teacher
  • company trainer
  • training officer
  • language school instructor
  • trainer, (vocational, computer, etc)

Creating a List of Potential Employers

You can use directories to produce lists of colleges and career training institutes in the Lower Mainland or BC. Contact them directly to find out if they’re hiring.

  • Reference Canada
    Click on “Start Search” beside Canadian Businesses, then select the “Advanced Search” button.
    Select both “Keyword/SIC/NAICS” under Business Type and “City” under Geography.
    In the top search box enter “colleges” (OR “community colleges” OR “institutes) and click LOOKUP.
    Select the appropriate headings.
    Lower down, select the Province, choose the cities, and click the “View Results” button.
    NOTE: You can access this database from a Library computer. If you are using a computer from outside the Library, you will need a Vancouver Public Library card to login to this database. After clicking on the database name, you will be asked to enter your library card number and PIN (usually last four digits of your telephone number).
  • Scott’s Directory of Canadian Schools
    Available at the Central Library. 379.971 J17d

Applying for a Job

In Canada, employers usually expect to receive a resume (curriculum vitae) and a cover letter that identifies the position you are applying for and summarizes your relevant experience.
Use the library catalogue to find books on writing resumes and cover letters specific to your industry.
To learn about applying for jobs in Canada, use the following guides:

Getting Help from Industry Sources

Industry Associations

Associations for adult education in BC and Canada can provide information and assistance. Registration and fees are usually required for membership.

Industry Journals

Search the Vancouver Public Library catalogue for journals related to your profession. Examples at the Central Library:

  • CAUT Bulletin / Canadian Association of University Teachers
    Also available in Print at VPL 378.1205 C212c