Jobs in Education: Overview

Education is a broad career field, involving both general teaching skills and specialist training. Career paths vary from college professors to remote area primary school teachers.

Types of careers in education

To define these career tracks we need to separate them into categories:

  • General teaching: Basic school teaching to high school level
  • Special needs teaching: Teaching people with disabilities including learning disabilities
  • Academic teaching: College level and postgraduate teaching

The three basic categories require both teaching and other specific qualifications. Teachers at all levels are qualified in a special subject or in some cases more than one.

Career tracks

Entry level teaching jobs in most countries require:

  • Formal teaching qualifications
  • Academic qualifications in the teacher's subject(s)
  • Successful completion of probation periods, either as a permanent or temporary teacher.

Career paths

The level of complexity and requirement for qualifications increases up the scale. These vary considerably depending on the type of teaching:

  • General teaching: Standards of qualification and experience are set by the Board of Education or equivalent.
  • Special needs teaching: Teaching qualifications also require specialist training in the field of disabilities involved. Teaching people with learning disabilities, for example requires formal training in this area. If the disabilities are medical in nature, formal training is conducted under the requirements of legislation and professional medical standards.
  • Academic teaching: Standards of qualification are set by colleges, or in some cases by national or state standards. Most academic teaching requires higher level degrees, and teaching qualifications to the required level.

Career environment

These are the people who educate the world. Teachers are, by definition, dedicated people. They teach in some of the most difficult environments, and in some of the most privileged. Career paths can be tough, or lead to jobs in the world's best colleges. Education facilities can be abysmal, or years in advance of national standards.

Teachers are also, by definition, experts qualified in their fields. It'd be an oversimplification to describe teachers as limited in scope in their careers. A high school math teacher can become a professional mathematician, and a language teacher can become a professional linguist. Both may well continue teaching at the higher levels.

The education systems of the world, particularly the public education systems, aren't exactly holiday camps. Teachers often gravitate to the environments where they're more productive. Staff retention is low in some areas and excellent in others.

Teaching can be a very personal thing, a personal mission. Some teachers volunteer to teach in developing countries, where the educational conditions and facilities are appalling. They do this even when they could get higher paid jobs in cushier conditions.

Other teachers specialize in extremely difficult, demanding forms of teaching like special needs teaching. This form of education was barely known 50 years ago, and it's changed the world for people with disabilities, opening up opportunities which didn't exist before.

Academic teaching in its most advanced form involves teaching experts and researchers involved in new science and technology. This form of teaching, like the others, can be a life's work. The personal commitment is the real career environment.