Adult education lecturers defy the notion that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Ok, so these education professional have nothing to do with canine training regimes, but they do play an important role in helping adults to develop new skills, increase their employability and learn all about interesting new subjects.
A lot of the time, adult education is aimed at people over the age of 18 who have not obtained crucial qualifications earlier on in their lives. However, other adult education lecturers teach well-educated adults, who want to learn new skills, obtain professional qualifications or learn about a new subject that they had never considered exploring before.
Some adults take classes to help facilitate a career change; some adults participate in adult learning programmes for fun; and others take adult education courses in order to develop the vital skills that will help them to cope with the pressures of everyday life.
Adult education lecturers are employed by community colleges, further education colleges, higher education institutions and organisations in the voluntary sector that provide social and welfare services, such as life-skills training and adult literacy programmes.
The day-to-day activities and responsibilities of adult education lecturers are similar to other professionals in the education sector, i.e. schoolteachers, university lecturers and learning mentors.
Consequently, if you enter this profession you’ll be preparing lesson plans, giving lectures, leading discussions, running workshops and coordinating practical learning exercises.
In order to be a successful adult education lecturer, you’ll need to modify your teaching methods to meet the needs of different adult learners. This could even mean leading field trips and taking students on cultural visits to museums, talks and events.
In addition to your hands-on teaching activities, you’ll be required to carry out administrative duties, plan and implement a curriculum and manage the procurement of learning materials such as books and stationary.
Salary & benefits
Adult education lecturers employed in full-time positions can earn between £23,000 and £35,000 per annum, while salaries for personnel in senior management positions are around £35,000 to £50,000.
Usually, however, adult education lecturers are employed on a part-time or contract basis and are paid an hourly rate. Current rates for contracting adult education lecturers range between £15 and £40 an hour.
Adult education lecturers are usually required to work in the evenings and on weekends, since most of their students are likely to have day jobs.
Freelance lecturers that have a number of teaching contracts with various institutions may be required to travel around to different learning centres on a daily basis.
Some adult education lecturers who offer private tutoring services for adults may work directly in their students’ homes.
The majority of adult education lecturers have an undergraduate degree, HND or postgraduate qualification in a subject related to the one that they are teaching. If you don’t have any form of higher education qualification, you’ll certainly need to have extensive professional experience in a particular area and teach a relevant vocational subject.
Many people working in this area will also have a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), which can be particularly advantageous when competing with other people for teaching contracts.
In order to be employed in roles which are funded by the public sector, all adult education lecturer and private tutors must obtain Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS) status from the Institute for Learning (IFL), the recognised professional body within this area of the education sector.
Training & progression
Training and development schemes for personnel employed in the adult education sector are administered and monitored by the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted).
Various skills development courses are offered by City & Guilds, which lead to the completion of Level Four qualifications. It’s also important for adult education lecturers to become registered members of the Institute for Learning (IFL).
As you progress in your career as an adult education lecturer, you may move into a full-time position with senior management responsibilities. For instance, you may become a head of department or a senior education administrator. However, the opportunities available are usually few and far between.
More and more opportunities are actually opening up in the private sector with commercial training and skills development organisations, where salaries and opportunities for career progression are usually more enticing than positions with institutions that rely on public funding.