Your reason for making education your career path can be as simple as desiring to share what you love with others or to experience the satisfaction of watching a little light bulb go on when a student learns something new. Education careers involve a lot of hard work but one can also achieve a high level of satisfaction through these jobs.
Education Careers: What to Look For
In choosing a career path, it is important to be educated about the many aspects of a position. We felt that the most important factors to finding a job, beyond selecting something that interests you and fits your personality, are salary, job availability and advancement potential. These criteria will help you compare best education jobs.
For the education careers reviewed we took the income statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and O*NET OnLine to find the most accurate nationwide salary information. The salaries are laid out in bell charts. The charts mark what 10, 25, 50, 75 and 90 percent of the population make annually. We listed the 10th 50th and 90th percent amounts. We also took an average of the 10th and 25th salaries as an approximation of an entry-level wage. We used this entry-level wage as the salary rating for each profession. For professions that had their salary information broken down into subcategories, we averaged the salary information for all of the subcategories. Additionally, we factored special benefits into the overall salary rating.
We took information about job availability for these education careers from the BLS. Our rating is based on the projected percentage of change in job openings from 2008 to 2018. We also looked at why the job openings are predicted to change.
In education jobs, it really does come down to how much education you have. Typically, the more education you have, the more opportunities and higher pay you’ll receive. All of the positions we reviewed have opportunities for advancement to managerial positions as well as opportunities for lateral movement to other job titles within and outside of education careers. Even in positions that have less advancement opportunities, with more education and qualifications, you can move into other education jobs that provide an increased variety of prospects.
Many things should factor into your choice of education careers; however, these things may be solely based on personal preference. We felt that these types of things could not be scored because they differ depending on the person. Still, we wanted to point out some of these job aspects to help you find the positions that best fit your personality.
Most education jobs follow the same schedules as the students: days and evenings, 10 months out of the year. However, administrative positions and several other jobs follow normal business hours.
Interaction with Others
As one would probably suspect, most education careers are heavy on the student-interaction side. In our assessment, we considered three categories: working in a team, working solo and interacting with students. If a position involves working as a team, you will be working with other colleagues such as professors, teachers, researchers and collaborators. In the solo category are jobs where interaction with other employees, such as those listed above, are minimal. The final category involves interacting with students by working with and talking to them in environments such as classrooms, one-on-one visits and school campuses.
While requirements for education careers can vary between location and institution, we considered the standard requirements. Before you begin a course of study, check with state and local agencies, as well as businesses within the industry, for specific requirements. For instance, some employers might only hire graduates from schools that meet certain standards. Additionally, some schools and states will allow you to complete alternative requirements in order to receive your teaching license.
To further ensure your success in selecting a profession within education careers, consider the type of positions you are physically able to accept. If you prefer to stand and move around all day, a teaching job may be better for you than one where you would sit all day long at a desk. It is just as important to consider emotional requirements. In working with students, you may want to consider your ability to help others who have emotional problems or learning impairments. Another consideration in choosing between education careers is the amount of stress you can comfortably tolerate that comes from your workload or the expectations of others.
Basic Skills Required
Office and interpersonal skills are important in many education careers. Particular character traits are also important in some professions. While you do not have to possess all of the skills listed in the reviews in order to be successful, many of these skills and traits will be helpful in teaching jobs and administrative positions. Also, just because a trait you have is not listed does not mean it could not be valuable in the position you are interested in.
BLS projections show education careers looking favorable from 2008 to 2018. Overall, the number of positions is increasing, salaries are fairly competitive and there are a variety of advancement options. A job in education can offer you a variety of career paths, including positions as a curriculum developer, a higher education professor or a special education teacher. Each of the reviews includes a sample job description and an example of a typical day of someone in that profession.
You can also read articles on education careers.
Many job titles describe this position within education careers. Some of these include: curriculum specialist, instructional coordinator, personnel development specialist, instructional coach, instructional designer and director of instructional material. A curriculum developer is the person behind the scenes who supports teachers and plants the newest technology in the classroom and curricula. They assess teaching strategies and suggest ways to instruct students more effectively. Occasionally, they will even teach students, using new methods. When new state and federal guidelines come out, the curriculum developer assists teachers to incorporate these new standards into classrooms. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that this education job will grow the fastest until 2018. If you are interested in education careers, learn more about higher education teaching and special education teaching, our number two and three reviews respectively.
While salaries can range with location and school district budgets, O*NET reported that the average curriculum developer made 58,780 dollars in 2009. Most people’s salaries ranged from 33,520 dollars to 93,340 dollars annually.
In 2008, the number of curriculum developers was 133,900. The BLS projects that by 2018, the number will have risen to 165,000. This 23-percent increase in open positions is much faster than average according to the BLS. The BLS suggests that those with experience in math, science and reading will especially be in demand. Those working with continuing education courses, students with special needs and English as a second language are in demand as well.
The BLS expects this large increase of growth because of changes that are occurring in the education standards. New curricula need to be created to incorporate state and federal standards. Additionally, teachers need training on how to implement these guidelines into their classrooms.
Usually, curriculum specialists begin their careers in teaching jobs or in administrative positions. Informational coordinators, according to the BLS, can move to higher administrative positions, or leave the education field and work in the private sector as a manager or an executive. A curriculum developer can also write curricula for special education.
Unlike other educators, many do not have summers off. Their schedule is year round. They are sometimes required to work long hours. Many curriculum developers travel to the schools a lot in order to meet with administrators and teachers.
In order to be qualified, you need to have a master’s degree in teaching, educational administration or curriculum and information. You may also need a teaching license and other certifications and licenses, depending on the state in which you work. Some private schools and adult remedial programs do not require a teaching license for curriculum developers. If you are working with middle school or secondary schools, you need to be specialized in a subject such as geography, math or English. You may also be required to take continuing education courses throughout your employment. Some schools require curriculum specialists to have a Ph.D. or a degree in medicine or law, but most only require a master’s degree.
The BLS reported that some curriculum specialists find their work stressful because they feel pressure from administrators to maintain the curriculum and help teachers use current teaching methods. In such a position, you need to be able to keep up with the changing standards and with improvements in technology.
Instructing teachers can be a large part of your job. Sometimes this instruction is in after-school meetings. Other times, you might teach the teacher’s class and allow them to observe new teaching methods. You must feel comfortable teaching both students and teachers. Part of your instruction for teachers will be in the form of mentoring.
As stated above, working in this position can require you to travel to the schools for meetings and trainings. O*NET OnLine reports that the amount of time required travel time will most likely be minimal for this position.
The two main facets of curriculum developers’ duties are developing and preparing curricula and assisting teachers in sharing that information effectively. In doing this, you need to have a variety of skills. With every job come many opportunities to strengthen skills that you may already possess. As you consider career choices, think about what skills and talents you have and what you can do to cultivate other abilities.
You will need to have an ability to communicate clearly and tactfully with others. A large part of the work involves interpersonal communication. Much of the work involves working in teams to collaborate on ideas, evaluate current practices and teach people. You also need to be able to take criticism tactfully and deliver constructive criticism where appropriate.
Another intangible skill you need is creativity, which can help you in curriculum design, training information, questionnaires and other instructional material. Creativity is also important in thinking of new teaching methods, ways to measure the effectiveness of teaching styles and in teaching students and training teachers.
Analytical skills are also an important characteristic of a curriculum developer. You need to be able to read the education standards and interpret their meaning to determine whether the curriculum meets the guidelines. You also need to determine whether the curriculum is age appropriate according to students’ reading and comprehension levels.
Writing skills are an important asset in curriculum development. Students and teachers will depend on the information you provide them with for their learning and teaching experience. You might also write grant proposals and other technical articles. Along with the ability to write, you need to be able to cater that information to the audience you are writing for. You will need to be organized and concise in your wording.
It also helps to understand technology and keep up on advances that can benefit the classrooms. As equipment gets older, you can authorize repairs, replacements and upgrades. If there is advancement in the technology for your, it is your responsibility to investigate whether that technology should be incorporated into the curriculum. Many positions will require you to know Microsoft Office and Adobe software. You also need to understand how to use the internet.
Many positions will require teaching experience. This can be a helpful skill because it can give you more credibility when working with teachers to improve their teaching abilities. It can also give you a better perspective on why the teacher does certain things. Administrative experience can help you to understand the goals and overall workings of the school.
A curriculum developer assists teachers by training them in the newest techniques and teaching methods. They review and revise curricula to stay current with new technology and state and federal guidelines. Their curriculum development responsibilities require them to travel to different schools to observe teachers and to give trainings. Their schedules follow normal year-round working hours. Since they work directly with teachers, it is helpful if they are good interpersonal communicators and if they have a teaching background.
A Day in the Life of a Curriculum Developer
Mike is a curriculum developer. His education career began in teaching middle school. He got his bachelor’s degree in teaching and had a lot of fun at it. However, he decided after quite a few years of doing so that he wanted do something else. He enjoyed writing and had written articles for an education magazine during the summer. As he considered the options he had for his career, he decided he wanted to work on school curriculum, writing lesson plans.
In the morning, he walks into his office, turns on the light and sits down at his desk. The stack of papers and notes on his desk are from yesterday’s work. While his computer is booting up, he starts going over his notes.
He was working on an activity for a spelling lesson before he left last night. After brainstorming several ideas, he decided he would create a crossword puzzle to help students learn the vocabulary. He started by listing the words in one column and the definitions for the words in a second column. Mike looked at several given definitions for the words he was defining. As he’d write the sentences, he’d run them through a program to check their reading level. They needed to be second grade reading level, which meant the sentence needed to be simple and concise. He also had to simplify any words that had too many syllables because second graders are just learning how to sound out one or two-syllable words.
Once he had figured out the definitions, he entered the names into a crossword puzzle making program. He then took the crossword puzzle image and put it into the page layout for the book. He made a couple more design changes but didn’t worry too much about that because the graphic design team would make changes on it as well.
Mike looked at his schedule to see how he was doing time wise. He still had three more activities to complete for the part of the workbook he was responsible for developing. The deadline for the book to go to the printers wasn't until the end of the month so he was okay.
They had started, he and his of team of curriculum specialist, by planning the content in the book. Together, they planned what words the book needed to cover and they looked over the new state guidelines to see what had changed. The curriculum developers looked through old textbooks and made curriculum development plans, what things needed to change and what still met the state and federal standards. At this meeting, they also discussed the changes the teachers wanted to make to the book.
Last week, Mike traveled to several schools, talking to second grade teachers in the state to see what they liked about the book and what could be beneficial in the next edition. He’d thought about the suggestions the teachers made and was prepared at this meeting with his team to discuss ways they could alter the curriculum to better meet the teacher’s needs.
The group looked at the overall content. They next went chapter by chapter, planning the exercises and activities. As they came up with their plan, they divided it up amongst them who would work on what part.
Once the pages were written, they would go to the editing team who would check facts, grammar, punctuation, spelling and for any other general errors. The editing team also has a copy of the state and federal standards and would determine whether the curricula they were creating meets these guidelines.
As a curriculum developer, Mike is also on the textbook team for seventh grade social studies. He’s been reading a book on the topic, highlighting important events and details he wants to study up on more. A professor at one of the state universities that has done a lot of research on the topic has been working with Mike on the project. The professor has been writing a history summary on the event and will soon send it to Mike. When he receives it, Mike will consider how the information meets the state and federal standards. He will make plans on how to incorporate any standards that are missing.
Most times, the information Mike gets is too advanced for the grade level so he considers terms that need to be defined and concepts that need to be simplified. This process however, will not be as challenging as converting it to a second grade reading level. It’s surprisingly difficult to communicate historical events to younger children who are at a lower reading and comprehension level because the language needs to be so simple. Seventh graders have a better grasp on vocabulary and can handle words with multiple syllables. The sentences can be more complex and have more than one idea in them. Sentences and paragraphs can be a little longer and activities can be more involved.
The tasks that Mike performs can vary quite a bit. Some days, he travels to schools in the district to meet with teachers and administrators. Other days, he observes classrooms and assists new teachers. Overall, Mike enjoys all of the things he learns as he studies the subjects he writes about. Working as a curriculum developer gives Mike the opportunity to use his teaching skills and creativity on a daily basis and he loves it.
Higher education teacher positions range from assistant professors and graduate student teachers to associate professors, technical teachers and professors. These higher education teachers work in colleges or universities. Higher education teachers can also fill positions as the head of a department. In such cases, they usually have more administrative than teaching duties. These education jobs provide opportunities for advancement. We found that curriculum developer had the best combination of salary, job availability and advancement opportunities.
Teaching jobs at the university and college level can be very profitable. Ten percent of higher education teachers make more than $121,850 in a year according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The average salary is $58,830 and less than 10 percent made less than $28,870 in 2008. Salary ranges can vary depending on the institution, location and area of study.
One of the nice things about working for a university or college is the additional benefits beyond standard medical benefits. Frequently, university employees receive tuition cuts or free tuition for family members, access to campus facilities and paid housing or other expenses.
The BLS has projected that employment will grow faster than average for university faculty. In 2008, the BLS reported that 1,699,200 people held these positions and they expect to see a rise in positions to 1,956,100. They expect a 15 percent growth in jobs because of the increasing number of people attending institutions of higher learning. Although this number is growing, it does not differentiate between tenure and non-tenure track positions.
The Faculty and College Excellence organization reported in their book, American Academic: The State of the Higher Education Workforce 1997 and 2007, that fewer schools offered tenure track positions, which increased competition for the positions. Tenure positions are important because they allow university faculty members the security that they cannot be fired without due cause. This allows them to pursue research findings that may not be popular or highly accepted. Instead of hiring professors for a tenure track, some schools are hiring full and part time non-tenure employees and graduate teaching assistants.
Universities and colleges advance their employees from assistant to associate professor and then professor. That order does not apply to all employees. Some people are hired as professors without first acting as an assistant or associate.
Advancement can come with additional educational achievements and researching findings. Universities and colleges are interested in employing postsecondary teachers that can bring attention to the school from their research findings and publications.
University and college postsecondary teachers spend on average 15 hours per week instructing in the classroom and attending faculty meetings. They set aside several hours each week as their office hours where they can give one-on-one assistance to students. In addition to this, they prepare coursework and grade the student’s work. Another role many teachers fill is as an advisor and supervisor for graduate students. Unlike K-12 teachers, higher education teachers assist the students as they study and conduct research. Many at the university level are expected to conduct their own research and publish those findings in addition their teaching responsibilities. Staff members read and keep abreast of the current thinking and research of their professions.
Most employees work full time but there are part time positions as well. Their schedules follow those of the students, typically 10 months of working with two months off. Oftentimes, higher education teachers can supplement their incomes by working during the summer months either within the school system teaching summer classes or coaching, or pursuing other business ventures outside the education sphere.
The hours for your classes will depend on the institution you work for. Many graduate programs are aimed for students who also work full time. In these cases, the classes would probably be evening classes. Other classes are in the earlier morning or throughout the day. Some classes are on the weekends as well. They typically have holidays off.
Higher education teachers work in a variety of settings, in teams, solo and with students. The most obvious is working with students. They collaborate and plan in committees and sometimes perform research in teams. Other times, they work on their own as they grade papers, plan their teaching material and conduct and prepare research for publication.
Colleges and graduate student positions usually require a master’s degree. Four-year universities require most of their staff members to hold Ph.D.s. With the change in the hiring dynamics, even qualified and highly educated individuals are offered non-tenure positions.
Although it is not required to have teaching experience in order to gain a teaching position, those with graduate teaching assistant positions have an advantage over those who have not taught. Likewise, many community colleges do not require their postsecondary teachers to have Ph.D.s but those with two master’s degrees are more attractive candidates to the college because they are qualified to teach more subjects.
Frequently, higher education teachers feel competing pressure to accomplish their teaching responsibilities and conduct and publish their research findings.
Universities and colleges anticipate that instructors will possess basic skills and character traits that will help them be successful in their profession. Depending on their specialty, these skills and traits can vary. Generally, schools are interested in those who can promote motivation and confidence in others. They need to be analytical, organized and an ability to communicate clearly and think innovatively. Even in teaching positions that are not directly related to writing, teachers need to be able to understand and perform basic functions of spelling, grammar, punctuation and math. In order to be successful, you need to be able to schedule your time and classroom material to fit in the time you have.
Understanding technology, particularly computers, is essential in these types of positions because of the need to incorporate new technology in the classroom. Many teachers use the internet to communicate with students, post the syllabus and other class assignments and to conduct research.
Compared to other education careers, higher education teachers make on average more than most. The BLS has projected that higher education positions will increase by 15 percent by 2018. Between 1997 and 2007, the increase in higher education positions consisted of more non-tenure positions than it has in the past. As a result, tenure track positions are more competitive.
A Day in the Life of a Postsecondary Teacher
Sherry is a professor with 25 years of experience and has been working at a university for 15 years. As a higher education teacher, she holds several degrees, including a bachelor’s degree in earth sciences, a master’s degree in public administration and a Ph.D. in coastal zone management. Throughout her career, she has enjoyed her education teaching jobs.
Sherry checks her email and telephone messages several times in the morning while she is getting ready to leave. One student has left a message requesting clarification on an assignment. As she’s walking in, a student is waiting for her in the hall. She opens up the door to her office, which is organized but packed with books of maps and grant papers. They discuss the final project that has this student worried. She offers to take a look at it and together they work out a modified plan and she points out some resources that might be helpful. Just as they’re finishing up, a colleague sticks his head in the doorway to see if she is on her way to the university faculty meeting.
They’re planning a new curriculum for the following semester so she grabs her papers for her class at 12:15 because she knows it’s probably going to run long. Everyone is assembled when she arrives at the meeting. Sherry slips in the door and quietly slides an empty chair up to the table as members of the committee move either way to make a space for her. They are discussing how they might be able to incorporate a new online mapping tool into their coursework.
On her way from her meeting, one of the higher education teachers from the committee hands Sherry a list of graduate student nominees to look over. They’re going to discuss their final decision tomorrow. As she’s standing in line at the café in the building to grab some lunch, she reads over the names. They’ve already discussed these students, met with them and discussed some more. They are choosing carefully because they will be working with these individuals for quite a while. Even after their programs are done, they will stay in contact. Her graduate students are always so helpful to her. She learns so much from them as she teaches them everything she knows. They spend long hours together planning discussion sessions for her classes and preparing for tests. Sherry frequently works with the graduate students as they are writing about their research. She remembers when she was trying to gain tenure status as a postsecondary teacher, how hard it was to meet the requirements. She had been worried all of the time about the book she was working on but it ended up being a great success. They actually use it as the introductory geology textbook now.
With her lunch in hand, she makes her way down to her classroom. Her graduate teacher assistant is already there when she arrives. He has written some examples on the whiteboard for her. As the students started filing into the classroom, they discuss the problem he is encountering in his research.
Once class is done, she meets with a couple of more students from her classes. She then completes some grading for another class. Then she is off to another class, a four-hour class that always seems long. Halfway through their discussion, she sees her student's eyes starting to look glazed over as she packs their minds full of information. So she shows them a comic that relates to the lesson. Over the years, and with vigilant searching, she had found one for every lesson. Some are funnier than others. But whether they make everyone roll in the aisle with laughter or just produce courtesy laughs, the humor helps to rejuvenate the classroom for another long stint.
On her way back from the class, she stops by one of her colleague’s offices to borrow one of his books, which will help her with something that she is working on for her latest book on secondary impacts from urban development in her area’s coastal zone. It sounds kind of boring, she admits to herself. Whenever she tells someone about it she notices facial expressions that reveal total indifference to the subject. She laughs to herself and wonders why she enjoys the topic so much, but then as soon as she takes out her notes and starts to organize chapters, she becomes engrossed again.
While she is deep into chapter five, the phone rings, and breaks her concentration. A student asks if she might take the final early so she can go out of town for the holidays. After the phone call, she glances at the clock. Although she had intended on returning to her work, she realizes that it is getting late, so she packs up her papers and suspends her thoughts on how to chart the course of the water table until tomorrow. Her work as a higher education teacher is never done but she enjoys it and knows there are always more options for professional and personal growth in education careers.
Special education teachers either work in their own classroom or in the same classroom as the general teacher to assist disabled students in the learning process. Frequently, they teach the students socially acceptable behaviors. Individuals with professions in this education career adjust the curriculum to meet the needs and abilities of the student. They record the students’ progress and report it to parents, K-12 teachers and educational administrators. They also suggest additional resources as needed.
The median wage was $51,970 in 2009 according to O*NET. In 2008, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that approximately 64 percent belonged to a union. They receive standard benefits; however, those in private school might receive additional benefits.
The BLS projected that by 2018, the number of open positions will increase by 17 percent, bringing the projected openings to 554,900. This is growing because of earlier diagnoses, higher graduation standards and a lack of qualified teachers. There is more demand for these teachers in inner cities and rural areas; however, the salary in these areas is usually lower. Many areas are also in demand for those who work with students who have multiple disabilities. The need for bilingual teachers is also increasing.
You can move around in special education by taking leadership positions such as mentoring, managing teams, supervising or other administrative positions. You can oversee programs or establish policy at the government level. You can teach different age groups. Or, you can obtain additional education and teach the theory and practice at a college or university level to future teachers. You can also create the curriculum as a curriculum developer, our no. 1 education career.
You will work with students who have a variety of physical and learning disabilities. Much of the work is teamwork with other special education teachers, paraprofessionals and assistants. You create lesson plans that your students can understand and relate with. Work on lesson plans. Discuss the children’s advancement with the parent.
Most of these jobs follow the school schedule with summers off. They have additional opportunities to make money during the summer, either in or out of the school system.
O*NET OnLine reported that 57 percent of kindergarten through 12th grade special education teachers held a bachelor’s degree, 41 percent had a master’s degree and 2 percent had an associate’s degree. There are a variety of degrees and licenses you can obtain to be qualified as a special education teacher. Find out what degrees potential employers are interested in. Several of the associate’s degrees you can get are occupational therapy, paraprofessional education and an associate in elementary education. You can get a bachelor’s degree in special education or communication disorders and deaf education.
Some of the master’s degree programs are Master of Education, M.Ed., along with a specialized license; Master of Science, M.S., with a specialized license; Research in Special Education and Professional Practice in Special Education. Some licensing options are mild to moderate disabilities, severe disabilities, early childhood special education, early childhood visual impairment, early childhood hearing impairment, hearing impaired and visually impaired. You can also obtain a doctoral degree.
Special education teachers need to be understanding as they work with their students. Helping the students to learn and understand new concepts can take patience. Having the desire to help others is important in this profession. Being able to motivate others is also important as you work to help others meet their goals.
Sometimes the students can be hostile. The children might bite, kick, punch or be verbally abusive. Other times, they might be obstinate on uncooperative. You will need to be able to discipline through positive reinforcement.
Keeping track of all the paperwork, assisting and teaching students and administrative pressures can make these jobs stressful. Teachers sometimes change professions for this reason. Occasionally, people advance to leadership positions or change schools.
It is important to care about the students you work with. You need to be able to create relationships of trust with them. You can achieve a mutual respect with your students by remaining consistent in your treatment and communication with them.
Since you will be teaching students modified versions of the curriculum for their age group, you need to understand the subject material. You also need a basic understanding of grammar, spelling, punctuation, writing and math.
As you work with students who have electronic devices and other technology to assist them, you may need to understand that technology in order to assist them. Additionally, you need to understand computers and other electronic classroom tools.
Much of the work includes filling out paperwork and keeping records on the progress of the students you work with. Therefore, it is important to be organized in your work.
Analytical skills are also important as you determine the most effective ways to teach your students and as you assess their progress. You may also need to observe children in classroom settings and in one-on-one discussion to determine whether they have learning disabilities.
Similar to other teaching positions, you need creativity in your lessons in order to connect with your students. Some tasks may need to be presented in multiple ways before students may be successful in accomplishing them.
Communication skills are a must in this position. You will be working with parents, administrators, counselors, teachers and students. They will need to understand you in verbal interactions and in writing.
Positions for special education teachers are going to be increasing by 17 percent. These types of positions are good for those who enjoy working with disabled students. Those who work with students who have multiple disabilities or teachers who are bilingual will be in more demand. The large amounts of paperwork and other responsibilities can make these teaching jobs stressful.
A Day in the Life of a Special Education Teacher
The children arrive in the morning on the accessible bus. Rick meets them outside with his teaching assistants. He has an education career as a special education teacher. Together, they all go back to the classroom and start their day by going over their behavior goals for the day. They choose one goal that applies to all of the students. Then each student writes that goal on a card. He reminds his students throughout the day about the goal they made to help them achieve their goal.
Next, they have reading time for about half an hour. Each student reads with a teaching assistant or with Rick. Some students are reading chapter books and others read short stories.
One of the children in Rick’s class bites a lot. While Rick and the girl are reading, she tries to bite Rick. Rick moves his hand and uses positive reinforcement to remind her that she will get to put her card in the box if she does not bite anyone today. She thinks about it and decides not to bite him. Rick continues helping her with her reading assignment even though she wants to stop. They read a funny part of the story and laugh together and find personal application to the anecdote.
Occasionally, students need some motivation. The students might be discouraged with a certain subject such as math or English or they simply don’t want to do their assignment. When this happens, Rick and the teacher assistants patiently encourage the students to complete their work by reminding them of the rewards they receive for finishing. Rick and his assistants work one-on-one with the students in the classroom.
While the special education teacher assistant is presenting the spelling words, Rick reads notes from the parents of his students that update him about their progress at home. As Rick works with the students, he keeps track of their progress and setbacks. He meets with teachers and parents regularly to discuss where the students are in their special education. He also sends home a daily report to the students’ parents. Rick works on those reports periodically throughout the day.
He also grades their homework assignments. The curriculum is similar to those of their peers in other classes; however, Rick modifies the teaching methods and activities to fit his students’ abilities.
While the students are eating their lunch, Rick works on filling out reports about the students. He keeps copious notes on their progress to report back to their parents and to the school district. The paperwork can be overwhelming at times but Rick works to keep it organized and completed regularly so it doesn’t pile up.
After lunch, they have a classroom activity where they toss a beanbag from one student to the next while they talk about things the Native Americans in their area would have had when the explorers came through.
Then they complete a math worksheet. The worksheets are tailored to each of the students’ abilities. They work with a teacher assistant on their assignment. When they are done, they have free time where they can work on an art project, read, play math games or other interactive learning games.
They finish up their day by learning about measuring. They each receive a ruler and with their teacher assistants, go around the room measuring items with their rulers and writing down the amounts they find.
Just before school ends, they discuss their classroom goal. Everyone who met their goal gets to have a sticker on their folder and line up at the door to wait for the bell. Everyone says goodbye to everyone else until tomorrow. When the bell rings, Rick and the special education teacher assistants take the students out to the bus stop and the students get on the bus.
Counselors work in schools to assist students as they make academic and career choices. They help students meet graduation requirements. Individuals in these types of education careers also help them deal with personal, social and behavioral problems in classroom settings. Elementary and middle school counselors deal more with the latter than with academic and career plans. They test students for learning disabilities but they do not usually perform psychological counseling. If counselors become aware of things they think particular students may need additional help with, they direct those students to professionals.
Most people in this profession make between $29,360 and $82,330 annually according to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) records for 2008. Fifty percent of individuals make at least 51,050 dollars annually. An entry level position for teaching jobs, which we determined by averaging the 10 and 25 percentile earnings, was 35,700 dollars annually.
The BLS says school counseling positions are growing faster than average, at 14 percent. This means that by 2018, they project that instead of 275,800 positions there will be 314,400 job openings. They anticipate this increase because they expect there will be more job openings than graduates. The BLS also reported that counselors are taking on more responsibilities such as helping students with crises, drug and alcohol abuse, death and suicide.
You can advance by moving into more administrative roles such as directors or supervisors. You could relocate to a larger school or become an education administrator. You could also go back to school for a higher degree and teach at the college level. Or you could move out of the education sector and set up or join a private or group practice.
School counselors have their own office or classroom. You work the same schedule as students, with summers off. You might take continuing education courses during the summers to recertify. College counselors more frequently work year round. There are full time and part time positions. Some positions are year round. Some people work at multiple schools/campuses. You will work in teams with teachers, parents and administrators. You will also work on your own, filling out administrative paperwork. A large part of your job is to meet with students. Extra hours and travel can be part of your schedule. You might travel for conferences and training.
You must have a school counseling certificate and most states require you to have a master’s degree in counseling through education, psychology or human services. Specific requirements vary by state. The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) lists each state’s requirements. They may include attending an accredited school, completing specific courses, so many hours of experience, taking an examination, receiving an institution recommendation, certification and passing a background check. A number of states require you to complete your program through an accredited school. The Council on the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) lists the schools that are part of the accreditation program.
Once you receive your certification, you will be required to take continuing education courses and recertify. Each state determines how frequently you must recertify, though most states require it every five years. According to ASCA, Missouri has a one-year renewal certificate; Nevada and Tennessee have a 10 year renewal certificate.
You need to be able to listen to other people’s problems but school counselors do not assist with psychological matters. Many people quit after a couple years because of the stress. You will need to have good emotional health to cope with the stress in this position.
To be successful in this position, you need to have the desire to help others. As the background check may suggest, you must be a trustworthy person. You also need to be able to analyze and make decisions. In working with elementary students especially, you will need to assess whether students might have learning disabilities. As you will be interacting with many people, including students, parents, administrators and teachers, you will need to have strong interpersonal communication skills—including verbal and written communication—and an awareness of body language.
Becoming a counselor can provide you with a variety of advancement options, competitive salary compared with other education careers and the Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates an increase in job openings through 2018. It can be a stressful career but it can also be rewarding as you assist students in overcoming challenges and planning their careers and academic futures.
A Day in the Life of a Counselor
Cheryl is a counselor at a middle school of 400 students. She started out as a teacher but decided after nine years of teaching that she wanted to change directions in her education career. She had heard there was a large attrition rate for new counselors, which worried her. But after she consulted with several school counselors, she felt confident about her choice.
She has now been a counselor for 7 years and is really enjoying the work. She performs a variety of tasks. For the next two weeks, Cheryl and her fellow counselors will meet with the students and their parents to go over the students’ career goals and plan follow-up on their graduation requirements.
Cheryl takes some time in these meetings to talk to the parents and female students about the district’s new program, Women in Science and Technology Careers. She explains how their school is working with the district to encourage more girls to go these types of careers. She tells the parents and students about how the district will be interacting with the local section of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) this year. Cheryl encourages the female students to get involved in the events that SWE will hold.
In between meetings, Cheryl meets with students who have scheduled appointments. In these meetings, she helps the students make changes to their schedules. Sometimes students will come in seeking help with family or substance abuse problems.
Occasionally, students who are very depressed or suicidal come to her. Since she only does school counseling, she refers them to psychological counseling resources that can help them further. In some cases she contacts parents, teachers and professionals to assist the adolescents. When their meetings end, she fills out the forms that document their meetings.
Close to noon, one of the office administrators brings over a new student who needs to obtain a class schedule. The student is very quiet and does not have a desire to take any of the classes that the school offers. Cheryl chats with the boy for a while and tries to learn more about him. After several unsuccessful attempts, she suggests some classes for the boy and prints off his schedule. She helps him find his classes and then lets him head off to lunch.
The school district Cheryl works in recently changed how they utilize their counselors. Cheryl now goes into the classrooms and teaches the students about how to deal with stress, gives them anger management tips and teaches them other life skills.
Cheryl also administers personality tests and helps students identify careers that might fit their interests. She shares scholarship information and helps students know the qualifications for attending particular schools and programs. Some students are very interested in their futures and others have no interest at all. Cheryl works with these students to help them discover their skills and talents. She feels excited when she, as a counselor, is able to help students learn about themselves and become more motivated.
Education administrators perform a variety of roles including: deans, assistant deans, principals, assistant principals, district administrators, provosts (chief academic officers), department heads, chairpersons, vice presidents, directors, registrars and directors of administration. These education jobs help the educational institution to run smoothly. They set the atmosphere of the school by the way they lead. They support their faculty and some conduct interviews for incoming teachers. Depending on their position, they might oversee the resources for their school and manage the budget.
In 2008, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that 90 percent of education administrators make more than $45,050 annually. Fifty percent make at least $82,275 a year, and 10 percent make more than $160,500 annually. They receive good health benefits and special benefits such as campus access, generous pension plans, several weeks of vacation every year and tuition cuts for their families.
The BLS has projected that between 2008 and 2018 the demand for educational administrators will increase by 8 percent. This percentage change will raise the current 445,400 people in that profession to 482,500 nationwide. The government anticipates this increase will come because thousands of baby boomers will be retiring. The government also expects an increase because administrators at the district level are giving more responsibilities to the schools, which may make positions at the school level less desirable.
Most administrators move into that position from teaching jobs, whether at grade school level or college level. Less frequently, administrators are hired directly out of college. When that happens, they can start in assistant positions or even as principals.
Once you are an administrator, you can advance in your career by moving to a larger school or receiving more education, or both. With some experience under your belt, you can work your way up to superintendent, also known as chief school administrator. You could also become the president of an educational institution. One of the struggles with this is that there are few upper administrative positions, so the competition is greater.
Working as an administrator is a full-time, year-round job that frequently requires overtime. The BLS reported that in 2008 about 35 percent of administrators worked more than 40 hours a week. Some of that overtime comes from attending extracurricular activities such as band and choir performances, sports, school plays, fieldtrips and other events. These activities are usually in the evenings or over the weekend. Individuals in this profession often work directly with students and other educators. You will also have tasks that you will complete individually. Principals and assistant principals discipline students, which can be a difficult part of the job description.
The education level that you will need depends on the type of institution you work for. In 2008, 55 percent of postsecondary and 84 percent of kindergarten through 12th grade administrators held a master’s degree. In that same year, 63 percent of preschool administrators had a bachelor’s degree. These numbers include private schools, which do not have the same standards as public school systems.
You will also probably need a license to be an educational administrator. The licensing requirements differ according to state and institution. According to the BLS, postsecondary schools typically don't expect their instructors to be licensed.
Education administration positions can be stressful. For example, principals spend lots of time "putting out fires" by disciplining students and addressing the concerns of teachers and parents. In such situations, you may be called upon to mediate discussions. As school districts move more responsibility to the schools, school administrators have more pressure to accomplish all of their duties.
Leadership skills are vital since you will be directing staff. Managerial skills are also very important. Depending on your position, you might be overseeing a couple dozen teachers, hundreds of students, and support staff such as janitorial services and lunch providers. You may also need to keep track of school or district equipment and fundraising events.
Many of these high-profile positions will require you to interact with teachers, superintendents, school boards, curriculum developers, parents, students and other members of the community. It is imperative that you have good interpersonal skills.
Some of the other skills you might need are spelling, basic math, computer and technology, and organization. A variety of characteristics can also help you be successful in these positions, including determination, decisiveness, confidence, trustworthiness and the ability to motivate others.
The BLS has projected that job openings in this field will increase through 2018 and that there are good advancement opportunities. Of all the education jobs we reviewed, education administrators have the greatest possibility of earning the highest salary.
A Day in the Life of an Education Administrator
Greg recently changed careers from teaching to being an education administrator: a vice-principal at a junior high school. He didn’t just change professions overnight. He went back to school to get a master’s degree in education administration and graduated in the spring. Throughout his graduate work, Greg corresponded with people who had education careers in the school district whom he had known for some years. He accepted an internship position that allowed him to get some experience.
Now he spends his days meeting with students and parents. This morning, a teacher showed a girl into his office who was breaking the dress code. Greg talked to her about the message she was sending from the outfit she was wearing. He explained the importance of the dress code and reinforced that she needed to wear clothes that met that standard. He asked her if she wanted to call home to get a change of clothes or if she wanted to wear one of the school t-shirts for the rest of the day. She chose to call home.
Not long after that, a mother came in to discuss her concerns with an education administrator about a book that the English class had just started reading. She had the book in her hand and sections marked that she felt were inappropriate. She referenced how her daughter told her that multiple students in the class were offended by the content. Greg talked to the principal and then scheduled a time when a committee could meet and discuss the concerns.
As the students started their lunch break, Greg went out into the hall to observe the flow of traffic and talk to the students. He has been meeting with a committee to propose some structural changes to the cafeteria. Greg has been considering several floor plans that could increase the room for a community area next to the tables. In addition to considering design ideas to present to the committee, he has also been piecing together a fundraiser idea that could help fund the project.
On his way back from the cafeteria, one of the teachers asked him to look at her overhead projector. She said it hadn’t been working all week despite her efforts to fix it. He told her that he would talk to one of the curriculum developers when he met with him this afternoon to discuss some state curriculum standard changes.
After his meeting with the curriculum developer, he went out to the bus loading area and watched the students as they entered the buses. Every day, there seemed to be at least one student who was oblivious to the bus driving up. He would remind the students to stay up on the curb as the buses pulled in.
On his way back, he stopped at the school principal’s office to sum up the meeting he had with the curriculum developer. The two education administrators then had a quick meeting with the teachers that were affected by the changes to the standards. They all looked at their schedules and planned a day they could meet with the curriculum developer to enact the new guidelines.
Librarians, or media specialists, can work in four types of libraries: academic, school media centers, corporate and public. Academic libraries are connected with institutions of higher education such as colleges and universities. School media centers are in elementary schools, middle schools and high schools. Corporate libraries, sometimes found in museums, hospitals, law offices and research facilities, carry books that pertain to a certain topic. Librarians may be one of the more commonly misperceived education careers because they have been stereotyped in movies and TV shows as a profession of old ladies who spend all their time shushing everyone who talks.
Media Specialists made on average between $33,190 and $81,130 per year in 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). They also reported that 30 percent of librarians were part of a union. School districts and employers in this profession usually provide their librarian employees with health benefits.
The number of media specialists is growing about as fast as average professions, with a projected 8 percent increase through 2018. They expect a large number of librarians will retire, but they anticipate that budget cuts and the increase in technicians and assistants will keep the librarian profession from growing more rapidly.
Experience and education can give you opportunities to advance within the facility. If you start off in a center with minimal librarian experience and education, you can move up the ranks as you strengthen your skills and increase your familiarity with the procedures. If it is small, you might want to consider changing locations. Many media centers have departments within them that can provide opportunities to move into more administrative positions such as the head of a department. You can also become a director or the chief information officer. These positions are much more competitive because they are limited and pay well. For more administrative positions, you usually need a doctoral degree.
Librarians in public schools have less opportunity to advance, especially if they are the only librarian in the school. However, they can move into other administrative functions within the school or move to other schools that have larger facility.
Generally, the size of the facility will dictate the advancement opportunities. If it cannot afford many opportunities, you can continue to grow in your librarian profession by finding a new facility to work at.
Academic libraries are typically open during the weekend and on some holidays. The building hours can be very long and can extend into the early morning. Specific departments, such as Special Collections, may only be open during normal business hours. Librarians are expected to work when the library is open and sometimes, even when it’s not.
School media centers are open during school hours. Librarians usually have the same holidays as the teachers. They still have the opportunity to interact with students but usually don't have to discipline them like teachers do.
In order to work as a school librarian in most institutions, you’ll be required to have a master’s degree in library and information studies (MLIS) from an American Library Association (ALA) accredited school. Some schools have online programs and others offer on-campus programs. According to the BLS, some schools do not require librarians to have an MLIS but will employ those who have a master’s degree in education with a specialization in library media.
Working as a librarian is predominately a sit-down job. Librarians work at computers for long portions of the day and as a result can have eye strain, headaches and other health concerns from being sedentary.
These librarian positions can be stressful when you are trying to assist others in finding information so they can meet their deadlines. Librarians may need to do some lifting and climbing ladders to restack books on shelves. Larger, more modern facilities make this more convenient with safer book storage and more staff members dedicated to shelving books.
When you work with people day in and day out, if you want to be happy in your job you need to be a people person. Interpersonal skills are very important for a librarian. You need to be able to communicate clearly with others over the telephone, in emails and in person.
Being familiar with modern technology is a large part of being a librarian as well. The art of finding information continues to evolve as technology constantly changes. Most media centers now supply users with computers and access to the internet. Many are taking on online chat services to help users and students as well. Understanding and keeping up with changes in technology will help you remain an important resource.
Library science continues to evolve with the advent of new technology such as online chat features and internet services. Those who enjoy connecting people to the information they need are a good match for school librarian and other librarian positions. Librarians can advance to opportunities in specific departments, as department heads, the director or even a chief information officer.
A Day in the Life of a Librarian
In Jessica’s education career, she is a librarian, or media specialist, at the law library at the university in her city. She became interested in library science after spending a semester of countless hours in the school library researching cases for a final paper in one of her classes. When she first entered the law library, she was out of her element. She thought she was fairly familiar with the workings and common sense behind the organization of such facilities but when it came time to find cases and laws there, she felt totally lost. Jessica soon discovered how helpful the school librarians were in her research process. They pointed her in the right direction many times and saved her countless hours of fruitless research time.
As the semester was ending, she was talking to one of the media specialists about how she was looking for a summer job. The man told Jessica that they were hiring assistants to shelf books and insert amendments in the back of books. It didn’t sound like the most glamorous job, but Jessica considered how much it could help her in her upcoming semesters if she was more familiar with the building so she applied.
While she worked there that summer, Jessica realized how much she enjoyed helping people find the information they needed. She also got to know the online resources better. She watched her coworkers work one-on-one with students as they looked for resources like she had done. She also observed them teach classes. Jessica was surprised at how many classes librarians teach. Frequently, professors brought their classes in to get an overview on the facility’s resources. Other times, classes would learn about particular databases and search strategies in more depth. The classes would also meet one of the librarians who would then work specifically with their class to help them navigate the building throughout the semester.
While Jessica was there, she took time to ask her coworkers questions about their work as librarians and how they kept up with all the technology. She would also volunteer for opportunities to assist them with bigger projects. When they were preparing for classes to come in for instruction, she would offer to help them in whatever ways they needed.
One day, a librarian coworker encouraged Jessica to look into getting a master’s degree in library and information science. Jessica considered her career plans and decided to research accredited master’s degree programs that would allow her to take online classes. While she pursued her degree, she continued to apply her knowledge to her work. Slowly she began taking on more responsibilities. She worked with other librarians to catalog books and select and order books.
Jessica continued to observe her other coworkers while she shelved books. She worked on skills she saw they possessed in order to make herself more valuable as an employee. On occasion she would meet with her supervisor and discuss the things she was doing to help out. They discussed her future opportunities and options.
When Jessica graduated with her master’s degree, her supervisor said they still didn’t have a full-time position available, but they helped her find a librarian job in a university near her house. Her coworkers’ terrific recommendation of her hard work and friendly personality were very beneficial in helping her beat the competition for the librarian position.
Kindergarten through twelfth-grade (K-12) teachers instruct students on a variety of subjects. But teaching jobs involve more than just teaching students. K-12 teachers are responsible for grading assignments, assessing the progress of their students, meeting with parents and administrators, making their classrooms aesthetically pleasing, updating class websites, tutoring students, performing duties such as hall monitoring, participating in leadership positions for school clubs and establishing and rules of conduct.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that in 2008, 10 percent of the teachers in this profession made less than $30,970 annually. The median salary was $49,140, and 90 percent made more than $80,970. Average entry-level wage, which was calculated from the average of the 10th and 25th percentile, was $37,084 annually.
In 2008, around 3.5 million people were k-12 teachers, according to the BLS. They project that by 2018, the number of educators will increase by 13 percent, making that number 4 million. The majority of education jobs come from this profession.
There are more advancement opportunities for teachers who have a master’s degree. You could move into counseling, a position as a curriculum developer, a higher education teacher or you could move into education administration.
School teachers usually work for 10 months of the year and have a summer break. There are often options to work for the school district as a summer school instructor during the summer break. You can also find another job to make money during those months – or you could even take a vacation.
To become a teacher you need a bachelor’s degree in education and licensing from the state. Some schools require a master’s degree for their positions. Many states now offer alternative ways to become licensed. Check with your specific state for alternative ways of licensing.
A teacher goes through a lot of training before taking over a classroom. Before you can begin teaching, you must fulfill a period of student teaching. Once you have completed all of your classes and you start teaching, you'll need to take continuing education courses to keep up-to-date on your teaching methods and instructional material. You will also need to renew your teaching license periodically. Licensing periods vary according to state.
Being an educator can be a difficult job because you interact with students from all sorts of backgrounds. Some have emotional problems while some others have learning disabilities. Some students may need lots of attention or may refuse to obey rules set by the teachers and school.
Teacher jobs require you to be on your feet for a large portion of the day. You will also do a lot of walking around, lifting and bending. Since students typically have lots of energy, teachers need to be able to keep up with your students’ energy levels. You need to have good health.
As a K-12 teacher, you need to have leadership and management skills in order to maintain order in your classroom. Frequently, educators act stricter in the beginning of the school semester to help establish authority in the classroom. You need to also lead by example in your classroom.
Teachers need to be able to communicate clearly with students, staff and parents. Understanding nonverbal cues is an important part of understanding your students. You need to be able to listen to what your students are saying both verbally and nonverbally.
Even if you teach a specific subject, you need to have a basic understanding of writing, grammar, spelling, punctuation and math skills. You also need to stay current on new technology and incorporate it into classroom instruction.
Some characteristics that are important for those who want to be school teachers are innovation, determination, the ability to motivate others, confidence, the ability to make decisions, organizational skills and analytical strengths. You need to have the desire to help others, as that will be your main responsibility. You should also be trustworthy.
K-12 teachers make up a majority of the education jobs, with higher education teachers coming in second. These educators plan for lessons, instruct students, assess their understanding, grade papers and conduct other administrative duties. Between 2008 and 2018, the BLS projects that teaching jobs will increase 13 percent. Teachers need to be able to lead by example and communicate clearly.
A Day in the Life of a K-12 Teacher
Brooke, who is an elementary teacher, comes into the classroom in the morning to get ready for the school day. She opens the windows to let in the cool morning air and gets out the classroom preparation materials for the day. Then she makes copies in the copy room and writes the agenda for the day on the whiteboard.
Slowly, the students begin to come into the classroom. Some are noisy and restless, teasing and talking. Others come in quietly and sit in their desks and wait for the bell to ring. Brooke notices the empty desk in the front of the class where Marti sits. Brooke is nervous about Marti. Even though it’s still early in the school year, Brooke has noticed that Marti’s attendance is spotty and Marti never does her homework. Brooke has several concerns about Marti’s home life. She plans on talking to someone during recess about her concerns to see what ideas they have for her.
They start their morning routine of studying grammar. She has written down a couple of sentences and encourages the class to copy the words and add the proper punctuation and correct any spelling errors. She keeps an eye on the class and when everyone seems to be done with the exercise, they go over it as a class. David raises his hand to point out the need for a semicolon. Brooke thinks to herself about how much he has improved since they helped him to get an eye exam and suggest to his family that he wear glasses.
Then Brooke asks the class to get out their spelling books. They work on the spelling exercises for this week’s spelling words while she grades some papers from yesterday. She looks up occasionally to see how everyone is doing. She sees Nancy playing with her eraser instead of working on her assignment. She asks Nancy if she is done with her work. Nancy replies that she doesn’t know how to do this section. Brooke gets up and goes over to her desk and they talk about the assignment. She stays there with Nancy for a while until she's able to do the assignment on her own. As Brooke walks back to her desk, Rob raises his hand so she goes over and helps him as well.
The bell rings and the children all run out for recess. During the short recess, she walks down to the office to share her concerns about Marti. On her way back, she grabs some construction paper from the supply room next to the teacher’s lounge. With the construction paper in hand, she enters her classroom along with her students who are returning from recess.
Reenergized, her students jump into the math worksheet she passes out. Together they walk through the steps of adding and subtracting and filling in the blanks for the missing numbers. She notices several of the students struggling so she helps them individually. Tom finally seems to understand how to see the pattern of the numbers and fill in the correct missing numbers on the worksheet.
Before lunch they take some time to talk about the map. She pulls down the map for their state and they discuss what the lines mean on the topographic map. She shows some pictures of mountains and then they look at the same mountains as they look on the map.
They all take lunch and when they come back to the classroom, they have reading time. Over the years she has spent time reading children’s books and collecting them for her classroom library. She gets out the chapter book she's been reading to them. It's one of her favorites. They are nearly three-fourths of the way done with the book. When she starts to close it at the end of the chapter, the class moans and begs her to read another chapter. She looks at the clock and considers how much time they need for the rest of the day’s activities. She decides against it for today but balances out her class’s disappointment by telling them about the art project they’re going to do at the end of the day.
She turns on the overhead projector and puts on some images of Indians native to their area. They talk about the clothes the Indians wore and the types of weapons and houses they had. She passes out a worksheet about the Indians they have been discussing. They complete the worksheet together while they discuss different aspects of the Indians’ lives and the way the environment influenced the way they lived.
When the children come back in from recess, they find examples of paper stained glass windows hanging along the windows. They all run in and look at the different examples. She asks them to sit in their chairs and they start cutting and gluing to make their own stained glass window decorations. She laughs at a joke one of her students tells and plans to write it down to share with her colleagues.
Right before the bell rings, they collect all of the paper scraps and glue. Then they place their creations on the windowsills to dry until morning. As the students leave, Brooke gives them high fives and they run out to go home.
Brooke enjoys her education career as a teacher. She finds satisfaction in watching the children in her class grow and learn.
Adult Literacy, Remedial, GED Teacher
Within education careers, adult literacy, remedial and GED teachers instruct students who need to increase their reading level, want to receive a general equivalency diploma (GED) or are learning English for speakers of other languages (ESOL). Generally, attendance is not required at these night and weekend classes, and students are more motivated because they choose to attend the class. Assignments are not graded. Since there are students in the class who need help with a variety of things, it can be difficult to meet everyone’s needs sufficiently. For information on other teaching jobs and education careers, read more about higher education teachers and K-12 teachers.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that 10 percent of literacy teachers made less than 25,958 dollars annually in 2008. Likewise, 10 percent made more than 81,016 dollars annually in the same year. They reported that the median salary was 46,301 dollars. We figured the average entry level worker makes 30,615 annually. We found that amount by averaging the 10 and 25 percent amounts as reported on the BLS website.
Many of these teachers do not receive standard benefits because they are part-time employees. Full-time employees usually receive health benefits. Most do not receive special benefits such as those that higher education teachers or education administrators might receive.
In 2008, the BLS reported that there were 96,000 adult literacy jobs. They project that number to increase by 15 percent by 2018 to 110,400 literacy teachers. In addition to these positions, many people work as unpaid volunteers. A need for teachers in these literacy classes is growing. The BLS suggests that this could be because people are seeking to increase their language skills to become a more desirable job candidate in an increasingly literate workforce. Additionally, teachers are changing jobs or retiring. According to the BLS, California, Florida, Texas and New York have higher populations of people who have limited English skills. Teaching English can be a valuable skill.
These literacy positions have a high turnover rate, which provides an increased opportunity for advancement. Usually, teachers who have a master’s degree, experience or additional certifications are more desirable candidates for such advancements. Some of the advancement options you might consider in this field are as a full-time teacher, coordinator, administrator or director. You could also create an entrepreneurial venture and teach literacy and remedial courses through a private company. If you choose to do this, be sure to comply with local, state and federal requirements and standards.
Your classes will most likely be in the evening or on the weekends to allow working students to attend. You will interact heavily with students in large group, small group and one-on-one settings. Such classes attract a variety of students. Some have graduated from universities in foreign countries and need help learning English, or their educational degrees did not transfer to the U.S. and they need additional schooling. Other students never graduated from high school and may need assistance learning to read. The students might vary greatly in age as well. Some facilities are not up-to-date, which will affect your working environment.
You must have at least a bachelor’s degree to work as a teacher. Some schools might require you to have a master’s degree. You might also be required to have a teaching license or other teaching certifications. In order to keep current on your teaching methods and materials, you will need to take continuing education courses in the form of workshops and activities. You may also need to perform student teaching before you begin teaching on your own.
While you are teaching, you will most likely be on your feet most of the time. As you interact with students who have struggled in previous educational experiences or those with learning disabilities, you will need to be able to constructively handle frustration and stress.
You need to have an understanding of teaching GED subjects and how to most effectively teach English and reading to others. You also need to speak English proficiently. In addition to speaking well, you need to be able to communicate clearly and listen actively both to verbal and nonverbal messages. Successful teachers support and motivate their students and seek to empathize with them. It might also be helpful to understand the naturalization and citizenship process. You should also be aware of community resources that might help your students.
Working as an adult literacy, remedial and GED teacher can be a wonderful position if you enjoy helping people increase and strengthen their language skills. You can assist people from a variety of cultural and educational backgrounds to prepare for additional schooling and job experiences.
A Day in the Life of an Adult Literacy, Remedial, GED Teacher
Mike’s work as an adult literacy, remedial and GED teacher begins in the late afternoon. He teaches classes part time in the evenings to a group of students from a variety of backgrounds. Some of them are highly educated and others dropped out of junior high. Mike holds several education jobs right now. In addition to teaching this group at night, he teaches ceramics at a high school during the day and he works as a tutor once a week. He was teaching English as a private tutor before he started working for the state as a literacy teacher at night.
Mike got his bachelor’s degree in secondary education and received a master’s degree in adult education. In his evening class, he has a man from Peru who has a Ph.D. in education. They enjoy talking about their work together. The man is learning the English language so he can teach in the U.S.
About half of Mike’s students are from other countries. A couple of them have no former education beyond elementary school. Others have a variety of secondary education and higher education. Several of his students have learning disabilities. One of his students, Phil, has dyslexia, which is a learning disorder that makes it difficult to learn how to read and write. Mike has been working with Phil to increase his literacy. He’s trying to help him feel more comfortable reading out loud. Phil reads out loud to Mike.
While Mike works with Phil on his reading skills, he has a small group of GED students work on some practice math questions as a group. He can hear them discussing the questions and reviewing their classroom material for the answers.
At the same time, a small group of English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) students watch a short video clip. They have a worksheet that asks them questions about what the people in the video are talking about. When they hear the people on the video talk about something that is on the worksheet, the students fill in the blanks of the sentences with the words the actors are saying. When the video ends, they discuss what the video was about. They also circle the verbs they hear in different conjugated forms. Their homework is to write down the infinitive form of the word, or to write down the verb in its basic form, such as "to be" or "to run."
When the two groups are done with their practice questions and video, Mike pairs them up in groups of two to work on a grammar worksheet. He puts one native English speaker with one ESOL student. He does this because the students who grew up speaking English typically can hear when something sounds wrong and the ESOL students usually know the grammar rules better than the native speakers. When they have completed their grammar worksheets, they go over the worksheets as a class.
In each class session, they work on different literacy skills. Mike brainstorms ways he can present the material that he thinks can help his students to best learn. He encourages them to work in teams and on their own. He has them play games and complete worksheets. He helps them prepare presentations and tapes them so they can see their progress and find ways to improve. Mike enjoys working as an adult literacy, remedial and GED teacher because he can help his students to prepare for higher education and work related opportunities. Adult literacy is just one facet within education careers.
Among education careers, a vocational teacher instructs students in skills that will prepare the students for a particular type of work. Vocational schools offer programs for such things as: automotive work, aviation, cosmetology, criminal justice, computer technology, culinary arts, education, legal studies, massage therapy and medical careers. Teaching jobs in this profession can be rewarding because you get to do so much hands-on work with your students.
In 2008, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 10 percent of vocational teachers made less than $34,020 annually and 10 percent made more than $77,950 annually. They also reported that 50 percent made more than $49,725 annually. We averaged the 10 and 25 percent amounts to find an average entry level wage of $37,065 annually.
The BLS reported that in 2008, approximately 115,100 people were vocational teachers. They anticipate because of increased school enrollment, the number will increase by 9 percent to 125,100 by 2018. They also project that middle schools will have the lowest amount of growth, 3 percent.
Additional experience and certifications can help you qualify for advanced vocational teacher positions such as mentor, senior teacher, supervisor and a number of education administrator jobs. You may need a master’s or doctoral degree for administrative and other leadership positions.
The work environment of a vocational teacher will vary depending on the type of vocational training you perform. If you teach cosmetology it will be in a far different setting than that of aviation. The number of students will also vary depending on the school and subject. There are full and part time positions. You may have frequent overtime in order to grade papers and tests, and to prepare for classroom experiences. Many vocational teachers have summers off. They can spend that time however they would like. Some teach summer classes, others perform jobs outside of education and many travel or spend it on other pursuits. Teachers’ hours follow those of the students, with day, evening and weekend classes. You will chiefly interact with students, but there will also be times you will do some work on your own and in groups if you are on committees.
To become a vocational teacher you need a bachelor’s degree either in teaching or in the subject you want to teach. You will need a teaching license, some states allow alternate licensing. In some states, if you have enough experience, a school might waive the requirement to have a license or even, in rare cases, a bachelor’s degree.
Being a vocational teacher or any kind of teacher can be stressful. Students are not always motivated nor have a desire to learn. This is more prevalent in middle and high schools than in post high school programs. You need to be able to cope with disrespectful and disruptive students.
You need to be able to effectively teach the subject you have training in. Additionally, you need to be an effective teacher and possess strong interpersonal communication skills. As part of this, you need to be able to actively listen to both verbal and nonverbal communication.
Some other skills and characteristics you need are:
- Analytical thinking
- A desire to help others
- The ability to meet goals and plan ahead
- The ability to motivate others
Working as a vocational teacher allows you to train students with hands-on exercises in preparation for their careers. Depending on the vocation you are teaching, you could be helping someone learn to cut hair or fix an automobile or many other things.
Although teaching in a vocational school requires about the same amount of schooling as a special education teacher or K-12 teacher, vocational teachers have fewer opportunities to advance and there are fewer job positions.
A Day in the Life of a Vocational Teacher
Sterling is a vocational teacher who trains scuba diving instructors. He teaches instructors how to lead diving expeditions, perform rescues, take underwater photographs and video, fix diving equipment and operate the business side of a scuba shop. Before he had this education job, he was a scuba instructor in Kihei, Hawaii. He enjoyed it but after a while, he became tired of dealing with the tourists. He still wanted to dive so he decided to start teaching instructors.
Today, Sterling arranged for his class to listen to a guest speaker, a famous scuba diver who will share her deepest diving experience. Sterling had been delighted when he met her at a conference in Hawaii. He told her he was a vocational teacher for a scuba instructor class and asked if she would be willing to come speak to his class sometime. She agreed to come when she was back in Florida.
While their guest speaker was talking, the class focused intently on everything she said. She showed a slideshow of pictures she had taken, shared tips she had learned from her expeditions and answered the class members’ questions.
After she left, Sterling returned the students’ water safety tests they had taken several days ago. They reviewed the test and then he talked to them about the practical exam they would be having at the beginning of next week. He showed them a movie about someone who didn’t follow the safety rules and got injured. When the movie ended, they talked about the safety steps the man in the movie neglected and what emergency procedures he should have used.
When they were done with their discussion, Sterling had them divide into groups to practice their emergency action plans on each other. Sterling watched the class members as they practiced and gave suggestions and assistance as needed. He analyzed how the students were doing. Some needed signed off on some of the certifications but others needed more practice.
At the end of class, Sterling reminded them of the field trip the next day to meet scuba shop owners and discuss sales aspects of running their own shop. He asked his students to think of questions they might have. He also wanted his students to take note of how the business owners interacted with their staff and customers.
After class, a student came up to Sterling and asked him if he knew of any internship positions he could apply for while he was still training. Sterling made a list of companies that typically hired instructors from the vocational school. He also offered to write a letter of recommendation for him.
Then, Sterling got out some of the equipment in the classroom. The next thing he would be teaching his students would be how to repair the equipment. He took some of the gear apart to prepare for the upcoming demonstration.
He was excited to soon begin teaching them about taking divers on expeditions – his favorite part about being a vocational teacher. He enjoyed seeing his instructors in training as they practiced the skills he taught them.
A preschool teacher has the opportunity to work on early education with young children typically between the ages of three and five. The hours and schedule of these education jobs often follow those of traditional schools; however, preschool teachers frequently only work part time. An exception to this would be preschools that are part of a daycare.
Among education careers, preschool teachers’ salaries range from 33,770 to 82,000 dollars annually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The median salary in 2008 was 50,723 dollars. Full-time preschool teachers usually receive health benefits.
In 2008, the BLS reported that there were 473,000 preschool teacher jobs. They anticipate that number to increase 17 percent by 2018 to 554,900 job openings. There is a high turnover rate in preschools, which can be good if you are looking for a position, but it can also be an indicator that there might be an underlying reason why teachers do not stay long. In this case, one of those reasons may be because of low monetary incentives
Preschool teachers can advance from assistant teacher to teacher and lead teacher. You can also become the director of the preschool. With the proper certification, you can become a kindergarten through third grade teacher.
The BLS reported that most preschools follow the 10-month school year, but daycare center preschools are usually open year round. Class sizes are small and a lot of attention is given to each student. It can also get rather noisy in the classroom. As part of being a preschool teachers and caring for young children, you may need to assist them in toiletry functions. You also need to be prepared in the event of an emergency.
The requirements to teach preschool can vary significantly depending on the state and preschool you work for. Most preschools require a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential and at least a high school diploma. Head Start early education programs usually have higher qualification requirements. To work for a Head Start program, you must have a state-awarded certificate that either meets or exceeds the CDA. Additionally, you need to take coursework in a higher education institution and have experience teaching young children. You'll also need a higher-education degree in early childhood education, or a bachelor’s degree in another field with participation in the Teach for America program. You may also need to be certified in First Aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
As a preschool teacher, working with a dozen or so little children between the ages of three and five can be a stressful position. You are required to supervise children in learning activities, playtime, during snacks and naptime. You will need to be able to cope with crying and sometimes unruly children.
Toddlers frequently get sick. You need to be prepared for the possibility of being exposed to a variety of illnesses. In addition to maintaining your health, you will need to clean up after students who get sick while you are watching them.
You may need to pick up or carry children and classroom equipment. You will also need to be on your feet most of the day. Your level of physical energy will need to be enough to keep up with the children. Your reaction time needs to be short in order to prevent (or quickly assist in) emergency situations.
Since you will be working with children, you need to understand childhood development. You also need to enjoy being with children. Patience is a key in working with little children who can be strong willed, sleepy, irritable or nonsensical.
Teaching preschool can be a very physically demanding job. It can involve cleaning up after small children, including messes from illness and bathroom accidents. While preschool teachers can advance in their careers, there is not as much advancement opportunity as our top-rated educational career, curriculum developer. One of the main reasons people change careers from teaching preschool is the lower salary when compared with other professions.
A Day in the Life of a Preschool Teacher
To begin a day in the life of a preschool teacher, we all meet out in front of the preschool. As the preschool teacher, I watch the kids to make sure they stay in the schoolyard. While the students are arriving, they play on outside toys such as scooters and tricycles. Some play hopscotch, others play with balls or jump ropes. Once everyone arrives, we all move inside and put our coats and backpacks in cubbies. Early education awaits!
We all wash our hands and gather on the floor in a half circle. We have our morning salutation where we talk about which season, month and day of the week it is. We put corresponding pictures on the felt board. Then we sing our morning hello song.
After that, we practice our alphabet by singing the song and pointing at the letters as we go. Then we stand up and sing “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” or “I’m a Little Tea Pot.” Each day we briefly talk about where are our toes, belly buttons, noses, fingernails are and so on.
Once we have finished, we sit at the tables and color a coloring page with an animal on it. We talk about the animal on the page and the color we are going to use to color it. For instance, today's animal is a doggie, and we decide to color it brown. We discuss doggies and look at several different pictures of doggies. Then we talk about the color brown and find other objects in the room that are brown. Among teaching jobs, being a preschool teacher responsible for early childhood education can be charmingly simple at times.
Next we get on our coats and go out into the yard to play. Sometimes we play freeze tag, other times we go on a walk and collect leaves or play with the outdoor toys. This is frequently a good time to help emphasize sharing and getting along with others.
We then go back in and clean up our hands for snack time. The snacks are simple: graham crackers or vanilla wafers and water. Inevitably, more crumbs end up on the floor than in the children’s mouths, so while they have classroom playtime, I take the cordless sweeper around the tables and clean up. I bring around a rag and clean up soggy cookies and water spills, too. Oh, the joys of being a preschool teacher.
After their snack and playtime, the children are pretty hyper, but we get our wiggles out and calm down by gathering on the floor and reading a story book or two. We talk about the books we are reading and sometimes I read the books more than once if the children want to hear them again.
Then we get our sleepy mats out of the corner and lay them out on the floor. We get our blankets out of our backpacks, take off our shoes and put them in our cubbies. I turn on some quiet music and we all lay down on our mats for a little rest. Some of the kids fall asleep right away. Others never fall asleep. They play on their mats. If they get up to run around, I remind them kindly that it’s quiet time; they learn after a while to play quietly on their mats until sleepy time is over.
After naptime, we put our mats away and put our blankets back in our backpacks. Then we put on our shoes and talk about which shoe goes on which foot. After that, we put on our coats and backpacks and play outside until their parents pick them up.
My day as a preschool teacher can be pretty crazy sometimes. By the end of the day, I’m ready to sit quietly for a little bit just to catch my breath and calm down from all of the running. It’s fun to interact with the children, and overall, it’s a great education job.