Education careers are as broad as life, because most people are lifetime learners. With a third of the teaching force due to retire soon, jobs for teachers at all levels but high school are expected to outpace other careers through 2018.
Early Childhood Education
The greatest number of openings is among teachers of children from infancy to age five. Preschool teachers need to be nurturing, patient, and flexible.
An associate’s degree in child development is required to teach preschool. Preschool students need a secure environment and repetition. Teaching is based on themes, and daily schedules are predictable, involving play and activities to introduce language, vocabulary, and number skills.
Kindergarten is a fast-growing area. Teachers need a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. Kindergarten teachers use skills, hands-on approaches, and interactive discussions to introduce letter recognition, phonics, numbers, science, and nature. Computers, games, music, books, films, rhyme, drama, and storytelling enrich learning.
Kindergarten teachers resolve conflict, organize activities, keep records, and interact with parents and peers.
A bachelor’s degree is required to teach in elementary schools, another growing field. Elementary teachers need to be curious, creative, patient, flexible, tireless, and sensitive to student needs.
Most teach all subjects, so elementary teachers need a well-rounded education. They prepare lessons, discipline students, grade papers and tests, keep records, and meet with parents.
Demand is highest for minorities, ESL teachers, math and science majors, and teachers in rural and inner-city schools.
Middle school teachers teach rotating classes, spending less time with each student than elementary teachers do. They create lesson plans, prepare for standardized testing, choose resources, motivate students, grade homework, design tests, monitor behavior, and expose students to careers.
A bachelor’s degree and a credential are required to teach in middle schools. Middle school teachers specialize in subjects such as biology, mathematics, or history and provide more in-depth instruction than elementary teachers.
Demand for middle school teachers is increasing, especially in the South and West, in inner cities and rural areas, and among teachers with licenses in more than one field.
High school students need mentors who not only instruct but also set good examples.
High school teachers direct students’ energies into positive channels and teach skills for success in vocations or higher education. They accommodate different learning styles, encourage confidence, and motivate success.
High school teaching requires a bachelor’s degree in education or in your field, secondary certification, student teaching, and passing state Teacher Competency Examinations.
Community or Junior College
Students in community college want to learn. Due to open admissions and low tuition, community college students are diverse, with varied levels of educational proficiency.
Some 22 percent of teachers teach in two-year colleges, providing general education and occupational training. Community college teachers see lives change.
Teachers need a master’s degree, although a doctorate could be required for advancement.
Four-Year College or University
Postsecondary teachers instruct students in a variety of academic and vocational subjects. Most college students are working toward degrees or certification. The environment is intellectually stimulating and collegial.
Faculty instruct undergraduate and/or graduate students, lecturing students in large halls, leading seminars, or supervising laboratories.
Faculty perform research, keep up with new developments, and might consult with government, business, nonprofit, and community organizations. A Ph.D. is usually required to teach in a four-year college.
Adult education teachers instruct part time. Many teach on weekends or at night. Tasks vary from week-long self-enrichment workshops to year-long certification courses.
Many adult education teachers come from specific career backgrounds. For instance, a computer consultant might teach a once-a-month computer workshop to improve computer skills.