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Find Your Teacher Career Path (Guide)

Learn how your decision to step into education sets you up to pursue varied and exciting career paths.

Find Your Teacher Career Path (Guide)

Learn how your decision to step into education sets you up to pursue varied and exciting career paths.

Many people don’t realize that becoming a teacher can be the first phase of a career with many options and opportunities. We break down the different jobs teachers can fill into five main categories with examples of each and what the position entails. Where will teaching take you?

5 Career Paths for Teachers

Educators have great careers in more roles than many people realize. Here are the diverse jobs you could get with a teaching degree or certification.
1

Master Teacher

2

School Leadership

3

Education Products

4

Policy & Advocacy

5

Higher Ed

Become a Master Teacher

“I would get to dance in a flash mob, attend Malala Yousafzai’s speaking tour, soar across fields on a zipline, scale a high-ropes course, write scripts for and perform in awareness-raising cabaret shows...Who knew that this was a part of teaching?”—Meghan Hatch-Geary, English teacher

Roles in the Classroom

Hone your skills, build expertise and help fellow educators in their journey. As you become a seasoned teacher with skills to share with others, you can grow professionally without having to fully give up the opportunity to remain in the classroom working with students directly.

Act as the liaison to the administration on behalf of the group; set up and facilitate regular meetings to collaborate on curriculum, assessment and policies; provide support to the other teachers and help to create a positive atmosphere.

  • Grade-level Chair

  • Master Teacher

  • Instructional Specialist

  • Advanced Certification

Lead a School or District

“Because colleges value high school performance above all else in admissions criteria, I want to make sure minority and low-income students get the mathematics instruction that allows them to enter higher education, no matter their background.”—Amanda Guy, math teacher

Roles in School Leadership

Thrive in leadership roles at your school. The opportunity to grow beyond your classroom responsibilities are numerous. Your professional path may expand into positions where you oversee everything from the budget to the performance of the entire teaching staff.

Advocate for students in all areas, including academic achievement, social development, preparation for college and future careers.

  • Counselor

  • Mentor Teacher

  • Teacher Coach

  • Principal

  • Dean of Students

Develop Education Products and Services

“My teacher experience has helped me as an organizational leader, too. Teachers fundamentally care about developing their people—their students. I do that now, but it’s with my staff not students. You need to grow your people if you want to grow an organization.”—Ellen Moir, founder and executive director of New Teacher Center

Roles in Education Services

The skills you learn as a teacher can prepare you to develop products and services for teachers and schools. Whether you balance multiple ventures while teaching or decide to apply your skill elsewhere, teaching will prepare you to excel. Consider these few paths as a sampling of possible opportunities.

Create an organization that produces solutions and products to address an unmet need, like Patty Palmer, co-founder and CEO of Deep Space Sparkle, who sought to bring “beauty and ease into a teacher’s daily practice” (2).

  • Startup Founder

  • Social Entrepreneur

  • Account Manager

  • Analyst

  • Sales Lead

Work in Policy or Advocacy

“I'm optimistic that, as a country, there is a realization that the success of our public education system is so central to our long-term future that we cannot afford to slide backwards.”—Dr. John B. King Jr., former teacher, principal and U.S. Secretary of Education

Roles in Advocacy

Further your commitment to education by sharing what you know with new audiences. Your career may naturally lead to a role where you are advocating for an issue, pursuing policy positions and/or moving into academic research. Here are a few opportunities that you may consider.

There are a number of policy positions that you might consider at a mayor’s office, a County Office of Education, a State Education Agency, U.S. Department of Education or the legislative branches at the state or federal level. In these roles, you may help research and inform educational policy decisions.

  • Policy Staff

  • Teacher Advocate

  • Union Leader

  • Research Analyst

  • Policy Fellow

Become an Education Leader

“I knew I wanted to dive into activism, but I didn't necessarily look at education and teaching as activism. Now, I know better. It is the best way to demonstrate activism in a sustained way in a pervasive way.”—Sharif El-Mekki, Founder and CEO, Center for Black Educator Development

Roles in Higher Education

Many teachers move on from K-12 classes to teach higher ed courses at colleges and universities.

As an experienced educator, you can transition into a teaching role at a college or university. You might train new teachers or administrators in classroom best practices or teach in your content area with a focus on how to plan engaging lessons. 

Most professor positions require a PhD, so you may choose to work towards your advanced degree while you're teaching, or apply to your school district for a sabbatical to begin your doctorate.

  • College Professor

  • Researcher

  • Teacher Training Administrator

Job Prospects

Teachers are always in high demand, regardless where the job market stands. Education Corner states overall teacher employment is expected to increase by 5% across the U.S. in 2018-2028 (3). Post-secondary teachers are expected to see the highest growth in job opportunities, with a projected 11% increase during the same time period.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, public schools are especially in need of teachers to fill “shortage areas” like math, special education, science, foreign language and English as a Second Language (ESL).

All of this means you’ll have countless job opportunities throughout your career. Learn more about the competitive salary and benefits that come with teaching by clicking below.

Learn More

References

  1. Higher Ed Live, Keep Calm and Let the Dean of Students Handle It
  2. Forbes, How This Former Elementary School Art Teacher Launched A Multimillion-Dollar Startup
  3. Education Corner, Job Outlook for Teachers through 2020