6 Popular Careers in Education

By Jordan Fabel •  Updated: October 18, 2021  •  8 min read  •  Education
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According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) research, employment in the education industry is expected to grow by 5% from 2019 to 2029. Around 441,000 new jobs will be filled in teaching, training, and library occupations during this time.

Are you interested in joining these ranks? If you’ve felt called to the education field, you know that the rewards are incredible.

However, did you also know that there are many different types of careers in education? In addition to teaching in the classroom, you could take on an advisory role, serve as a media specialist, or pursue various other positions!

Today, we’re taking a look at six of the most popular types of jobs in this sector. Understanding these roles and responsibilities can help you decide which route to take.

Careers in Education

Navigating the Different Careers in Education

Before you begin researching the different education careers, it can help to narrow your focus based on your interests.

If you know that you want to be in the classroom, start by asking a few basic questions.

Do you see yourself teaching a particular grade or age level? Is there a subject that intrigues you more than others? Are you interested in teaching specialized populations, such as students in special education or gifted education?

The answers you choose can help you focus your efforts on elementary, middle, high school, or post-secondary schools. You’ll also have a clearer idea of which courses you need to take and certifications you should pursue.

The same applies to future educators who take a more administrative path. You could become a high school principal, a college administrator, or a curriculum specialist, among other roles. The easiest place to begin is by mapping your goals and using them to create tangible steps for your future.

While you’ll have many options to consider, let’s take a look at six of the most popular ones.

1. Classroom Teacher

This is a wide field that encompasses a few different niches, including:

In this role, you’ll develop lessons that enrich and engage your students, making sure they learn the required curriculum standards for their grade level. You can use physical and virtual resources, including online educational resources like Education.com, to find worksheets, lesson plans, test questions, and even fun learning games!

As you might expect, your salary will usually increase along with the grade level you teach. You can also earn special certifications, such as your National Board Certification, to increase your earning potential.

Research shows that the average elementary school teacher in the U.S. earns an average of $60,660 per year. A college professor earns roughly $80,790.

Along with a higher salary often comes a greater degree of expectation. College professors are usually expected to perform advanced research or laboratory work in their field of study, along with their teaching and grading duties.

To become a teacher, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree, as well as a license from your state. Each state will have its own set of pre-requisites, so research those as you plan your next steps.

2. Special Education Teacher

Do you have a passion for helping students with special needs? If so, a career in special education could be for you.

In this role, you’ll work closely with your class, keeping a patient and understanding nature. In addition to planning lessons, you’ll also need the ability to adapt those educational materials to fit your students’ needs. This is a position that can be richly rewarding as well as demanding, so it’s important to prepare wisely.

The students you encounter could have mild to moderate disabilities, and your guidance and instruction can help them stay on their academic track. At the same time, you may also work with students who have severe disabilities, helping them develop core life skills.

You’ll need a bachelor’s degree, teaching license, and specialized certification to pursue a career in special education. While the starting salary is around $61,500, you can expect to earn more as you grow in your field.

3. Instructional Coordinator

In every school district, there is an instructional coordinator who sets curriculum and teaching standards for that region. If you’re a natural planner and very organized, you might prefer this position over a classroom role.

Once you set those standards, you’ll then work closely with local principals and teachers to make sure they’re met. Then, you’ll use the data they provide you to analyze the effectiveness of the material. Overall, your goal is to ensure that students have access to quality instruction that meets or exceeds state-mandated requirements.

While many top education careers are obtainable with only a bachelor’s degree, this one is an exception. In most cases, you’ll need a master’s degree or higher to become an instructional coordinator. You also need at least five years of experience in the industry.

For this reason, most experts in this role begin as classroom teachers or administrators. Then, they gradually move into this field once they meet academic and professional qualifications. The median wage for an instructional coordinator is around $66,970.

4. School Counselor

Regardless of their age, students will undoubtedly encounter challenges, conflicts, and questions during their time at school. When this happens, a school counselor steps in to provide guidance and support.

In higher grades, counselors often take on more of an academic advisory role. For instance, they can help high school students find and apply for colleges, prepare for entrance exams, and other key steps.

In this position, you’ll help students develop critical social skills and general life skills that can set them on a path toward long-term success. To find a job in this field, you’ll need to have a master’s degree in school counseling, as well as a state-issued license.

A school counselor can expect to earn an average salary of $58,120 per year. This number should increase as you gain experience.

5. School Principal/Assistant Principal

As a principal or assistant principal, you’ll take a high-level approach to student development.

Rather than teaching at the classroom level, you focus on your school’s high-level academic goals instead. You’ll be a major decision-maker as your institution hires new educators, provides teacher development and plans for the upcoming school year.

In addition, you’ll also be on hand for day-to-day activities, which may include meeting with parents to discuss a student’s progress or performance. With excellent interpersonal skills, a principal will also be highly organized. This person makes sure the school is running as expected and is on track to meet state and district academic standards.

Principals will be required to hold a master’s degree before they can step into this role. Most states also require them to have at least five years of teaching experience and a passing score on a specialized exam.

While salaries vary across states, the national average wage for an elementary, middle, or high school principal is $98,490 per year. Typically, you’ll work all year and will not have summers off.

6. Academic Advisor

Most academic advisors work at the college or high school level. These professionals are tasked with helping students decide the next steps in their educational journeys.

For instance, a high school advisor can help guide students toward the community college or university that will fit their needs and family budget. They’ll also be on hand to answer questions about AP courses, SAT/ACT exams, and other important milestones that students encounter in their junior and senior years.

In a post-secondary institution, academic advisors usually work one-on-one with students in their respective departments. They can help them choose courses that will work for their major, find internships that will provide hands-on field experience, and even perform interview prep when it’s time to graduate and apply for a job.

Some colleges and universities will accept applicants with a bachelor’s degree, though most will prefer a master’s. The average salary is around $62,320.

Pursue a Career in Education Today

The list of different careers in education is constantly growing and changing. This field was limited primarily to classroom teachers or principals in years past, but today, the field is wider than ever.

The six positions listed herein are just the tip of the iceberg. To find your perfect fit, think about the type of work environment you’d prefer, as well as the kinds of students you can see yourself supporting. In addition, keep in mind your inherent skills and personality traits that could lend themselves well to certain roles.

Jordan Fabel

Jordan Fabel

Covering different 'paths' that people's lives can take. Creative, foster parent, ticket dismissal, you get the idea. Exploring the requirements, certifications, exams, and obviously, approved courses along each path. I, personally, am the high school dropout son of two teacher parents. So how did I get here? That story is coming soon!