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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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,