Education careers are not for everyone. There are certain qualities that an education professional needs to have in order to be successful. A good educator needs to be committed to helping his or her students succeed. The same is true for counselors and members of the administration. It works better when the professional has a desire to help other people. Those who choose to work in education should also love the idea of teaching.
A critical quality that education professionals need to have at every level is patience. Working with students and parents can be frustrating. This can be particularly true when teachers are dealing with children who have behavioral problems or when talking to "helicopter parents." Teachers need to be patient with their students and parents in order to achieve the best results. Each student needs to be taught at his or her individual level. This requires teachers to assess their students, work with parents, and make adjustments in the classroom that allow each student to realize his or her full potential.
- Those in administration must be patient with teachers, parents, and members of the school board. The inevitable personality clashes and disputes over education require administrators to execute their tasks diplomatically. Effective communication skills will help administrators and other education professionals explain information thoroughly and prevent conflicts due to miscommunication.
- Good communication skills are key. Teachers need to be able communicate different concepts to their students. Well-educated professionals who do not communicate well cannot share knowledge, so it is important that those with education careers adjust their communication styles and tone for each student so that the information is understood. It is also important to monitor nonverbal methods of communication. Some children who are diagnosed with behavioral or cognitive disabilities have problems understanding nonverbal cues, and anyone who works with these students should find alternative ways to communicate.
- Education careers require people to think and act creatively. Students have distractions in their lives, and teachers need to find fresh and exciting ways to present information. Some people are naturally creative while others need to work at it. Fortunately, there are online and community resources available that allow teachers to share their creative ideas with each other.
- Being creative is not the same as being spontaneous. Implementing creative teaching methods in the classroom demands extensive preparation. Simply changing the way that an education professional delivers a concept does not guarantee success. Creativity should be included in the standard methodologies that address important learning objectives.
- Anyone who works in the education field needs to radiate self-confidence. The personal insecurity of education professionals will reduce the ability of students to accept their teachers as authorities in the classroom. Timid teachers are more likely to have trouble handling behavioral problems in class and stay on schedule. Educators need to be confident in their abilities as well as the abilities of their students. Students, even young children, are able to pick up on the confidence"or lack of"of their instructors. If a teacher does not believe that he or she is capable of helping students succeed, there is no reason for the students to trust the teacher. Similarly, students are not motivated to take direction from educational professionals who do not believe in them.
Before considering an educational career, candidates should consider whether or not they have the qualities necessary to work in the education profession. Certain skills can be improved. For example, people can enhance their communication skills and learn creative techniques from colleagues. It is also possible to work on personal characteristics and skills such as patience and confidence. The personal desire to teach others, however, is innate and cannot be taught.
Areas of Education
A variety of education careers are available to anyone interested. Teachers can work with preschool- and kindergarten-age children or choose to work in elementary education. Middle school and high school students usually have teachers who concentrate on specific subjects. Community colleges, traditional universities, and graduate programs need instructors; however, teaching at the college level usually requires the completion of graduate school and a PhD. At every level, educational institutions and programs need effective administrators.
- Working with young children can be rewarding. Preschool teachers are responsible for the physical, social, and intellectual development of the children in their care. Children at this age learn from play and other activities. Teachers of young children need to have the energy necessary to monitor their students and guide them through these different activities. Besides basic educational requirements, preschool teachers may need to acquire state certification.
- Elementary school classes are more structured than preschool classes. Elementary teachers are often required to teach a mixture of different subjects; they are also responsible for evaluating the curriculum and communicating their observations to students, parents, and administrators. Elementary school teachers also need to manage behavior and maintain state standards of education. Teaching elementary school typically requires a bachelor's degree and state certification.
- Teachers at secondary schools specialize in a given subject, such as English, math, or history, and some focus on skills like woodworking. Secondary schools are split in two ways: middle schools can include fifth through ninth grade; junior high covers seventh through ninth grade. High school is considered tenth through twelfth grade.
- The requirements for teachers at public secondary schools vary by state. Most states require teachers to have a bachelor's degree and certification. Several states, however, are beginning to demand that certified teachers work toward obtaining master's degrees.
- An education career at the college level demands much more than teaching responsibilities. A teacher on any college campus needs at least a master's degree, and most require a doctorate. Education professionals at this level need to be experts on the subjects in their departments. For example, English professors focus on different time periods and authors. In college, a teacher will not teach classes all day, but he or she is expected to keep office hours, advise students, and remain familiar with changing views on the subject matter in which he specializes. Most colleges also require their professors to research and publish a number of books and articles throughout their academic careers.
Advantages of Education Careers
There are many personal and professional advantages associated with education careers. Individuals who have a passion for teaching will never find another job quite as fulfilling as sharing knowledge and understanding with their students. It can be personally satisfying when an educator realizes that his or her teaching and influence in the classroom has helped to improve the lives of students as well as the lives of the people around them.
Besides the personal fulfillment that comes from helping others succeed, teachers have the unique opportunity of meeting new and interesting people. Teachers have new students every year, who come from different backgrounds, and teachers can continue their educational experiences by learning from students and their families. Teachers also learn from each other.
Mentoring is common in most educational settings. Many veteran teachers volunteer to serve as mentors so that newer teachers can learn from their experience. New teachers, on the other hand, offer their mentors fresh points of view and teach them the new theories and skills they acquired at school. Teachers and administrators work together to bring quality education to their students. People united toward a common goal will often build strong working relationships and friendships. The personal relationships that develop in the educational field can be long and rewarding.
Some people automatically think of elementary school teachers when they picture education careers. The versatility of education careers, however, draws many people to them. Educators can choose to work with different age groups and teach a number of different subjects. Additionally, starting in one educational career can lead to advancements in another; there is always room to maneuver. For example, teachers may choose to pursue careers in special education or move into administration. Each job in the educational field has different requirements, and people trading positions may need to further their educations because the necessary degrees, classes, experience, and certification will change with each job.
Job security is another advantage that comes with most education careers. Our culture values education, and qualified teachers are seen as essential to our future. Education is constantly changing, and specializations are developed to meet the needs of individual students. Given the changing needs of students, it is likely that more job openings will develop. Education professional can easily transition into careersoutside of the classroom. Those who have a strong background in education will have job opportunities in the future, even outside the education field.
Disadvantages of Education Careers
While there are many good reasons for people to join the education profession, there are also several disadvantages to education careers " just ask anyone in the profession. For example, teachers often feel unappreciated for the work they do. A career in education requires a great deal of personal sacrifice. Teachers put in long hours outside the classroom; they often find themselves teaching overcrowded classes, and some use their own money to pay for a portion of their supplies. As teachers are responsible for handling student issues, they often shoulder the blame for student failure.
Teaching is more than imparting knowledge to the next generation. Teachers have expectations placed on them by federal and state standards, administrators, and parents. They are required to adjust each class in order to meet the needs of individual students; and all of them work at different skill levels and hail from different backgrounds. Trying to juggle the expectations placed on them and still teach effectively can be stressful. The additional anxiety that comes from using standardized tests to determine school funding can lead teachers to question their job choice.
The high stress and often unappreciated education career comes with another disadvantage that dissuades many people from joining the field: teachers are typically not paid very well. While some college professors and private school teachers make decent salaries, most education professionals are considerably underpaid for their time and effort. Salary is dependent on location and specialty, but the starting salary in some states is roughly $35,000. College professors are paid more; however, many lecturers, who teach most of the classes, make below $40,000 a year while successful tenured professors make closer to six figures.
Besides being underpaid, education professionals are required to have a great deal of education themselves. There are different requirements that vary by state and job description. It is safe to say, however, that educators typically need more than a degree. Most teachers need to pass standardized tests in order to be certified, and additional certification is required for educators who focus on a specific field. College-level teachers typically need master's or doctorate degrees as well.
Despite the obvious drawbacks of education careers, most in the profession believe the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. Teachers who are passionate about their work admit there are difficulties, but real educators are only truly fulfilled when they are teaching.
Last Updated: 02/25/2013