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Teachers—Self-Enrichment Education

Significant Points
  • Part-time jobs, a lack of benefits, and self-employed workers are relatively common among self-enrichment teachers.
  • Teachers should have knowledge and enthusiasm for their subject, but little formal training is required.
  • Demand for self-enrichment courses is expected to rise as more people embrace lifelong learning and as growth continues in the numbers of retirees, who have more free time to take classes.

Nature of the Work

Self-enrichment teachers provide instruction in a wide variety of subjects that students take for personal enrichment or self-improvement. Some teach a series of classes that provide students with useful life skills, such as cooking, personal finance, and time management classes. Others provide group instruction intended solely for recreation, such as photography, pottery, and painting courses. Many others provide one-on-one instruction in a variety of subjects, including dance, singing, or playing a musical instrument. The instruction self-enrichment teachers provide seldom leads to a particular degree and attendance is voluntary, but dedicated, talented students sometimes go on to careers in the arts. Teachers who conduct courses on academic subjects in a non-academic setting, such as literature, foreign language, and history courses, are also included in this occupation.

Self-enrichment teachers provide instruction on a wide range of subjects, so they may have styles and methods of instruction that differ greatly. Most self-enrichment classes are relatively informal and not demanding of instructors. Some classes, such as pottery or sewing, may be largely hands-on, with the instructor demonstrating methods or techniques for the class, observing students as they attempt to do it themselves, and pointing out mistakes to students and offering suggestions to improve techniques. Other classes, such as those involving financial planning or religion and spirituality, may be more similar to a lecture in nature or rely more heavily on group discussions. Self-enrichment teachers may also teach classes offered through religious institutions, such as marriage preparation or classes in religion for children.

Many of the classes that self-enrichment educators teach are shorter in duration than classes taken for academic credit; some finish in 1 or 2 days to several weeks. These brief classes tend to be introductory in nature and generally focus on only one topic—for example, a cooking class that teaches students how to make bread. Some self-enrichment classes introduce children and youths to activities such as piano or drama, and may be designed to last anywhere from 1 week to several months.

Many self enrichment teachers provide one-on-one lessons to students. The instructor may only work with the student for an hour or two a week, but direct the student what they should practice in the interim until their next lesson. Many instructors work with the same students on a weekly basis for years and derive satisfaction from observing them mature and gain expertise. The most talented students may go on to paid careers as craft artists, painters, sculptors, dancers, singers, or musicians.

All self-enrichment teachers must prepare lessons beforehand and stay current in their fields. Many self enrichment teachers are self employed and provide instruction as a business. As such, they must collect any fees or tuition and keep records of students whose accounts are prepaid or in arrears. Although not a requirement for most types of classes, teachers may use computers and other modern technologies in their instruction or to maintain business records.

Working Conditions

Few self-enrichment education teachers are full time salaried workers. Most either work part time or are self-employed. Some have several part-time teaching assignments, but it is most common for teachers to have a full time job in another occupation, often related to the subject that they teach, in addition to their part-time teaching job. Although jobs in this occupation are primarily part time and pay is low, most teachers enjoy their work because it gives them the opportunity to share a subject they enjoy with others.

Many classes for adults are held in the evenings and on weekends in order to accommodate students who have a job or family responsibilities. Similarly, self-enrichment classes for children are usually held after school, on weekends, or during school vacations.

Students in self-enrichment programs attend by choice so they tend to be highly motivated and eager to learn. Students also often bring unique experiences of their own to classes, which can make teaching these students rewarding and satisfying. Self-enrichment teachers must have a great deal of patience, however, particularly when working with young children.

Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement

The main qualification for self-enrichment teachers is expertise in their subject area, but requirements may vary greatly with both the type of class taught and the place of employment. In some cases, a portfolio of one’s work may be required. For example, to secure a job teaching a photography course, an applicant would need to show examples of previous work. Some self-enrichment teachers are trained educators or other professionals who teach enrichment classes in their spare time. In many self-enrichment fields, however, instructors are simply experienced in the field, and want to share that experience with others.

In some disciplines, such as art or music, specific teacher training programs are available. Prospective dance teachers, for example, may complete programs that prepare them to instruct any number of types of dance—from ballroom dancing to ballet. In addition to knowledge of their subject, self-enrichment teachers should have good speaking skills and a talent for making the subject interesting. Patience and the ability to explain and instruct students at a basic level are important as well, particularly when one is working with children.

Opportunities for advancement in this profession are limited. Some part-time teachers are able to move into full-time teaching positions or program administrator positions, such as coordinator or director, when such vacancies occur. Experienced teachers may mentor new instructors.


Teachers of self-enrichment education held about 253,000 jobs in 2004. About 3 in 10 were self-employed. The largest numbers of teachers were employed by public and private educational institutions, religious organizations, and providers of social assistance and amusement and recreation services.

Job Outlook

Employment of self-enrichment education teachers is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2014. A large number of job openings is expected, due to both the growth of the occupation as well as to many existing teachers retiring or leaving their jobs for other reasons. New opportunities arise constantly in this occupation because many self-enrichment education jobs are short term and are often held as a second job.

The need for self-enrichment teachers is expected to grow as more people embrace lifelong learning and as course offerings expand. Self-enrichment education will also grow as a result of demographic changes. Retirees are one of the larger groups of participants in self enrichment education because they have more time for classes, and as the baby boomers begin to retire, demand for self enrichment education should grow. At the same time, the children of the baby boomer will be entering the age range of another large group of participants, young adults–who often are single and participate for the social as well as the educational experience.

Teachers who are knowledgeable in subjects that are not easily researched on the Internet and those that benefit from hands-on experiences, such as cooking, crafts, and the arts, will be in greater demand. Classes on self-improvement, personal finance, and computer and internet-related subjects are also expected to be popular.


Median hourly earnings of self-enrichment teachers were $14.85 in May 2004. The middle 50 percent earned between $10.39 and $20.80. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $7.90, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $28.85. Self-enrichment teachers are generally paid by the hour or for each class that they teach.

Part-time instructors are usually paid for each class that they teach, and receive few benefits. Full-time teachers are generally paid a salary and may receive health insurance and other benefits.

Related Occupations

The work of self-enrichment teachers is closely related to that of other types of teachers, especially preschool, kindergarten, elementary school, middle school, and secondary school teachers. Self-enrichment teachers also teach a wide variety of subjects that may be related to the work done by those in many other occupations, such as dancers and choreographers; artists and related workers; musicians, singers, and related workers; recreation workers; and athletes, coaches, umpires, and related workers.

Sources of Additional Information

For information on employment of self-enrichment teachers, contact schools or local companies that offer self-enrichment programs.

  • Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2006-07 Edition,

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