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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.

Becoming a teacher can be the first phase of a career with many options and opportunities. We break down some of the different jobs teachers can fill, with examples of each and what the position entails. Where will teaching take you?

5 Career Paths for Teachers

Educators have great careers, in the classroom and beyond. Here are some of the diverse jobs you could get with a teaching certificate.
1

Classroom Leadership

2

School Leadership

3

Education Services

4

Policy & Advocacy

5

Higher Education

Become a Master Teacher

Photo of teacher calling on a student in class

“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

As you become a seasoned teacher, you can share your skills and grow professionally — without giving up the opportunity to remain in the classroom and work with students directly.

Lead a School or District

Math student at the white board

“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

You'll have numerous opportunities if you want to grow outside the classroom. Your professional path may expand into positions where you oversee everything from the budget to the performance of the entire teaching staff.

Develop Education Products and Services

Photo of a female teacher with a young student

“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 other teachers and schools. Here are a few possible opportunities.

Work in Policy or Advocacy

Photo of Dr. John B. King

“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

Your career may lead to a role in which you are advocate for educational issues, pursue policy positions or conduct academic research.

Become an Education Leader

Photo of Sharif El-Mekki

“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.

Job Prospects

Male teacher helping student

Teachers are always in high demand, regardless of where the job market stands. Overall teacher employment is expected to increase by 5.5 percent from 2021–2031. Post-secondary teachers are expected to see the highest growth in job opportunities, with a projected 10.6 percent increase during the same time period. (1)

Public schools especially need teachers to fill “shortage areas” like math, special education, science, world languages and English as a Second Language. (2)

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

Learn About Teacher Salaries

References

  1. Occupational Projects and Worker Characteristics. Bureau of Labor Statistics. https://www.bls.gov/emp/tables/occupational-projections-and-characteristics.htm
  2. Teacher Shortage Areas. U.S. Department of Education. https://tsa.ed.gov/#/home/