The life of a teacher is often envied—work days that end early, guaranteed vacation time, summers off, and endless amounts of gratitude from students. Education, in general, is an occupation that is usually both extrinsically and intrinsically rewarding, as both students and parents value the work of motivated educators. Education, surprisingly, is one of the most accessible occupations one can aspire to attain.
Teachers are soldiers of the educational sector. From day one, they begin and end student days. Because of the time spent in the classroom with students, state and local agencies require those teaching to seek certification once they have earned either an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, degree requirements are dependent on state mandates. Furthermore, most education degrees require teachers to complete practicum hours in the classroom. Most state credentialing offices have four major categories of certification:
- Early education (pre-kindergarten to sixth grade)
- Middle grades (fourth grade to eighth grade)
- Secondary Education (eighth grade to twelfth grade)
- Certification for all levels
A prospective student preparing to teach early education (self-contained classroom) is certified in the basic subject areas (social studies, math, language and literature, and science). Alternatively, someone interested in teaching in grades beyond sixth grade or early education would only need to take the exam for the subject they are teaching. For example, someone wanting to teach ninth grade math would need to have taken the requisite test for that subject area.
For those who like to teach, but do not want to teach K-12, they can teach at the college and university level. Lecturers and professors are a part of the high status group of teachers. The individual, at this point, is an expert in his or her subject area. Because of the need for expertise, this vocation requires the individual seeks not only a bachelor’s degree but also a master’s degree as well. In most cases, a doctorate degree is preferred in the university system. The benefits to teaching in academia are:
- Opportunities to research
- Opportunities for travel
- Sabbaticals (time allowed to work on research and projects)
While teachers and professors form the foundation of education, many other vocations exist for potential educators, and these careers support teachers. In the K-12 system, most of the staff that forms administration comes from within the ranks of former classroom teachers. The most common way to enter administration is to work between three and five years in the classroom, earn an advanced degree in education, and ascend the ladder into administration. Careers that are a part of administration include:
- Academic Deans: Deans oversee academic divisions and work with faculty.
- Academic Chair/Lead Teacher: In both the K-12 and collegiate system, this person performs the same duties but also works within committees to develop curriculum standards.
- Counselors: In both the university and K-12 systems, counselors oversee course scheduling and provide personal counseling to students having difficulties.
- Principal/University President: The person in this position is in charge of the overall operations, which include curriculum and budget.
In the traditional K-12, qualifications for most administrative positions mandate that an individual have at least a master’s degree in his/her own subject area and a credential or certification in educational pedagogy, if not a master’s in education or educational counseling. Many traditional and online colleges offer degrees in these areas. In fact, one program offered, Maryville’s doctorate in education online, leads to a doctorate in education (ED.D), a degree that will allow a person to work in administration. Essentially, more degrees translate into more opportunities for employment in administrations.
Interestingly, a whole industry devoted to supporting both levels of educational institutions provides the opportunities for employment outside of the classroom and university. Other jobs outside of the traditional K-12 and university system include:
- School board members
- Educational researchers
- Education consulting
- Vendors for classroom material
- Education policy makers
- Curriculum planners
These positions, while on the margins, form the industry that supports teachers educating students, an industry that ranges from policy making to curriculum development.
One of the mandates of UNESCO under the Sustainable Development Goal 4 is to provide inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all, an important idea for those going into education to consider. When sitting in on any graduation ceremony, high school or college, one understands the need for educators who want to contribute time shaping the individual and the need for educators at every level in transforming students into educated, qualified applicants prepared to deal with the competitive job market and his or her future success.