You may be curious as to what it means to look at career options for teachers. Clearly, most of those who enter this field and seek teaching licensure or certification seek to teach, right? The truth is, there are a number of possible paths you could take in education, and many teachers use the classroom aspect as a springboard to other things.
From educating children or adults to leadership and administration, from instructional design to administration to policy and advocacy and entrepreneurship, there are countless career paths for an education professional. Explore these many career options and learn about the many doors you can open after beginning your road to education and teaching careers.
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The first step in exploring your desired career is to get an education of your own. Each state has its own path to licensure for educators, and while a bachelor’s degree may be the minimum, in most cases you’re best off to pursue master’s level education. By far the most common degree for teachers is the Master of Arts in Teaching, or MAT degree. This establishes that you have the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in the classroom environment.
Other degrees that can be picked up, however, include a Master of Science in Education (M.Ed.), which is excellent if you’re looking to get into administration, curriculum design, or counseling. Beyond this, there are degree foci, such as an MAT with Learning Technology, which adds a tech package onto your training.
Paths to Teaching Careers
While many educators spend their entire teaching careers in front of the classroom, others find that the path of an educator has outstanding opportunities for growth. Many teachers earn additional subject certifications so they can teach different classes. Others move on to leadership positions, such as:
- Grade Chair: These teachers liaise with administration and create curriculum and policy assessment groups.
- Master Teacher: These are leaders who facilitate growth and support within the teaching community and help to train, guide and educate on best practices.
- Mentors: Mentors focus on training student teachers or new teachers who are just starting out, and get them on a strong road to success.
- Instructional Specialists: These specialize in specific fields and become the go-to resource for other teachers needing help or guidance in teaching these subjects.
If you’re really looking to get into leadership, guiding other teachers, establishing policy and best practices, and being at the cutting edge of education, you may want to consider a career in administration. Some administration careers for teachers include:
- Counselor: Combine your love of teaching with a knowledge of psychology to help kids with mental health problems, who are dealing with trauma or stress, who are the victims of substance abuse, or who just need course and career guidance.
- Teacher Coaching: Coaches observe classroom practices and offer help and guidance on how teachers can better improve their skills and approaches.
- Assistant Principal: The assistant principal helps to administrate and carry out the vision of the principal for the school.
- Student Dean: Helps to ensure discipline and oversees counselors and staff, while acting as an authority figure and guide for student behavior and policies, with a focus on maintaining a positive climate in the school.
- Principal: Principals are the leaders and guides behind all policies and practices of a given school. They have outstanding communications and interpersonal skills and are always knowledgeable about the most current practices and trends in education.
These are just a few of the outstanding career paths available to teachers. See below for a more thorough listing. But don’t forget, it all starts with your certification. Check out our state pages to learn how you can get certified as a teacher in your state today!
Adult and Continuing Education – Adult educators fulfill an astonishing number of roles. They teach basic job skills to those who are seeking a career change, new work after being laid off, or different work after an injury.
Art Teacher – Art teachers do more than just offer drawing classes and watercolor paints. They teach creative concepts from basic skills to advanced knowledge.
Bilingual Teacher – As a bilingual teacher you must have complete fluency in both English and your second language, but more than that, you must have a solid grasp of grammar, sentence structure, syntax and the composition of language.
Business Teacher – Business teachers are focused on transferring to students the skills, knowledge and tools to become successful professionals in the fields of administration, business and entrepreneurship.
Curriculum Instruction Specialist – A curriculum instruction specialist is an administrative professional in a school district whose job it is to evaluate current educational systems and curricula and determine where they can be improved, and how to improve them.
Early Childhood Education – An early childhood education teacher works with kids from birth through eight years old, and these formative years are the time when a child learns more than they will at any period for the rest of their life.
Education Technology Specialist – As an educational technology specialist, you’ll work with staff, teachers and administration in school districts at all levels from elementary through high school.
Elementary School Teacher – Unlike middle and high-school teachers, those who teach elementary school will need a solid knowledge base in all subjects, as they can teach anything at any time.
English Teacher – Serving as an English teacher is a job of increasing importance in education, as school districts begin to shift some focus away from math and the sciences and back towards language skills.
ESL Teacher – Our world is becoming increasingly globalized, which makes ESL teachers very important in helping students to communicate across cultural boundaries and to function in areas where English is the primary language.
Foreign Language Teacher – A foreign language teacher has a different, more focused role than teachers in other subjects, even focused ones like math and history.
Gifted and Talented Teacher – The gifted and talented teacher must have a high level of knowledge in their field, and be able to adequately challenge students, without overwhelming them with information that’s too advanced even for them.
High School Teacher – High school teachers need to have expertise in a specific subject area, which they will deliver to students between grades 9 and 12.
History Teacher – History teachers are mentors and leaders in the study of not just past events of our nation and across the world, but in current events, politics and important events.
Kindergarten Teacher – Teaching a kindergarten class is a job that’s both ultimately rewarding and at the same time challenging, requiring all kindergarten teachers to have a passion for what they do.
Math Teacher – Depending on the level at which they teach, math teachers might instruct students on the overall fundamentals of arithmetic, or they might delve into basic algebra, trigonometry or advanced calculus.
Middle School Teacher – A middle school teacher is specialized in delivering instruction to students in sixth through eighth grades, though in some districts middle school can be just grades 7-8, or even through ninth grade, depending on how the district divides student population.
Music Teacher – Music teachers instruct students not just how to play an instrument, but in musical concepts, theory and history. They can instruct everything from vocal techniques to fingering and proper technique for playing physical instruments.
Physical Education Teacher – Physical education teachers help to teach kids the benefits of exercise and athletics, the proper techniques for exercising, and how to make proper health and nutrition choices.
Preschool Teacher – Preschool teachers use interactive play, games and other exercises to teach basic skills to children between the ages of 2 and 6 as they get ready for kindergarten and primary school.
School Administrator – Administrators can be found at every level of education, fulfilling a broad range of roles. From school principals to program directors to superintendents and members of the school board, administrators are what keeps the district running.
School Counselor – School counseling is an educational field that combines teaching and education with knowledge and training in psychology.
School Librarian – Librarians do so much more than just check out books. They’re advocates for information literacy and they help to build upon and improve their patrons’ passion for learning.
School Principal – The school principal is the primary administrator in charge of all day-to-day operations of a given school, including policies, procedures, safety, security and the overall mission and vision of the institution.
Science Teacher – Whether at the primary or secondary school level, science teachers provide a broad background in the sciences, teaching everything from the basics to the beginnings of advanced knowledge.
Special Education Teacher – While teachers generally focus on delivering academics, special ed. teachers must not only educate, but do it in unique and outside-the-box ways, as well as being an advocate for special needs students.
Substitute Teacher – Substitute teachers have a challenging job filling in for absent teachers in a variety of educational settings.
Teacher’s Assistant – Teacher’s assistants work with lead teachers and help them to run their classroom. They take on more common tasks as directed by the lead teacher which allows the teacher to focus on educating students.
Vice Principal – The primary duty of the vice principal is to assist the principal of the school in the daily operations and administration of the institution.
Vocational Teacher – Vocational teachers are those who instruct students in practical career paths. They might teach shop courses like woodworking, metalworking, auto shop, welding, technology, business, or a range of other classes.