In the popular media, enrichment classes and enrichment programs are often lumped together and referred to as after school programs.  Enrichment teaching is simply the act of leading or functioning as the instructor in these kinds of classes and programs.  Enrichment and after school programs have only recently been in the headlines (thanks to celebrities and politicians espousing their value), but enrichment has been an integral part of many communities for over twenty years.

A Brief History of Enrichment Teaching

The terms “school enrichment” and “enrichment teacher” have only recently become a part of the popular vernacular.  Up until the late 1970’s, the majority of elementary schools in the United States offered elective classes as an integral part of their curriculums.  These classes were held before, during or after school and ran the gamut of the arts, sciences, sports, humanities, and were more often than not, free.

In the ensuing decades, the funding for these elective classes was cut back or in some cases, completely eliminated.  At the same time, there was a growing population of parents in need of after school care and programs for their children due to the expanding number of families with two working parents. Subsequently, there was a tremendous demand for after school elective style classes and quality supervision of children.  This void is what paved the way for Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs), private industry and enterprising individuals to take over where schools and school districts left off.

Currently, this industry is experiencing a renaissance.  The enrichment industry’s place in our nation has become well defined – that of an indispensable service to the community.  Enrichment programs are now commonplace in schools.  In addition, enrichment style classes are being offered outside the confines of schools – you need only to visit YMCAs, parks & recreation departments, studios, daycare centers and other venues to see that.  There is also a new found notoriety being cast as celebrity endorsed legislation is being pushed through state and local governments to provide funding and support for these programs. 

Not surprisingly, there has been an explosion in the number of enrichment program providers and organizations to meet the demand.  While this rise in demand has been a boon to our industry, it falls upon its leaders to be vigilant as to not lose sight of our duty to serve the needs of the public in a safe and responsible manner.     

The founders of the National Enrichment Teachers Association have been at the forefront of the enrichment industry for over twenty years.  In that time, we have identified and defined the suite of skills, tasks and knowledge enrichment teachers must possess to do their jobs safely and effectively and used this set of criteria to develop the NETA certification exam.  The exam was developed using methods consistent with the exacting standards of the National Organization for Competency Assurance (NOCA). [back to top]

What is an Enrichment Teacher?

Enrichment teachers instruct elective-style (non-graded) classes and/or workshops to children/minors.  Enrichment teachers may conduct classes at public and private school campuses as well as at non-school venues.  Enrichment teachers primarily teach outside of regular school hours; before school, after school, evenings and on the weekends.  The students of an enrichment teacher participate in enrichment classes on a voluntary basis; hence, their progress and/or performance are not subject to grade-based assessment and the teachers of these classes are not subject to credentialing requirements.  To gain employment as an enrichment teacher you will need an advanced level of training and proficiency in the subjects you wish to teach, as well as prior experience working with children.  Many employers will acknowledge both volunteer work as well as paid jobs when considering an applicant.   
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What Can Enrichment Teaching Do For Me?

Enrichment teaching can be a career or it can be a stepping stone to other pursuits.  Whether you are looking to enrichment as something to do as a part time endeavor or as a long term career, consider the benefits afforded to both: 

  • Build Your Resume:  If you are currently in college or have just graduated, enrichment teaching can be a wonderful tool with which to build your resume.  Get practical work experience teaching children in addition to the theoretical studies you receive in the classroom.  This will aid you in your search for future positions as well as credentialed teaching position as you avoid the pitfall of having obtained your degree without practical, verifiable, in-the-field work experience.
  • Earn College Credit:  Many degree programs across the country allow students to utilize their life work and work experiences to create an Independent Study course that will meet a program’s requirements.

 Part-Time Work:  You can create a work schedule specifically tailored to fit your needs.  Whether you are currently a student, semi-retired, or already have full-time work, enrichment teaching can fit very conveniently into your existing schedule and be a welcome source of extra income.

  • Full-Time Work:  Enrichment classes are not just limited to the one to two hours after school.  If you choose to do so, you can earn full-time wages by teaching at several different venues throughout the day and on the weekends too.
  • Impacting Your Community:  Enrichment classes have long been touted for keeping children off the streets, lowering the likelihood that they would commit or become victims of crime and markedly improving their test scores.  There have been numerous scientific and statistical studies which bear out this fact.  Becoming an enrichment teacher enables you to make a positive contribution to your community. [back to top]



There are some basic and very important criteria you must be able to fulfill in order to become an enrichment teacher.
Are you a legal adult?  You must be at least 18 years of age or older to work with children.

Are you proficient in the subject you wish to teach?  You must have a thorough, comprehensive knowledge of the subject you wish to teach.  Many employers in the enrichment industry will not provide a specific curriculum for you and the expectation is that you are able to design a curriculum that is safe, comprehensive and age appropriate before they hire you.  Documentation and/or demonstration of proficiency in a subject or discipline will be reviewed by each individual employer on a case-by-case basis as a condition of employment.  Examples of proficiency:

  • Be currently taking and/or have taken upper division college classes or AP classes relating to your subject or discipline.
  • Advanced to professional level private studio training in your subject or discipline.
  • Certified instructor in your subject or discipline.
  • Apprentice or internships in your subject or discipline.
  • Past professional experience in your subject or discipline.

Do you have previous experience working with children?  Most employers require a minimum of one year verifiable experience working with children as a condition of employment.  Prior experience could be a paid position, volunteer work, apprenticeships, youth group leadership, tutoring, etc.
Do you have a clean criminal record?  All employers will require their enrichment teachers to submit to a criminal background check and/or fingerprinting as a condition of employment.  If you have a criminal record, (specifically drug offenses, violent crimes, child abuse, child endangerment, child pornography, lewd conduct, etc.) you will be ineligible to work with children.  Also depending on the employer, other offenses and infractions on your criminal record may prevent you from obtaining employment. [back to top]


Almost any specialized elective course can be turned into an enrichment class.  The following is just a partial list of enrichment classes which have been offered at schools, YMCAs, community centers and other child care facilities throughout the nation.  


Musical Theater
Choir / Singing

Reading Tutorial
Foreign Languages
Fine Arts
Homework Club

Team Sports
Arts and Crafts


If there is a particular subject, class or field of study which you do not see represented here, there is no need to be discouraged.  If there is a demand for it and it can be taught safely and effectively, almost any subject you can think of can be offered as an enrichment class. [back to top]