“I should teach” is the common refrain of people everywhere who are fed up with their jobs at any given moment, but actually taking steps toward making that switch takes a lot more than temporary frustration. Whether you’re already on an educational career path, trying to decide what comes next, or you’re one of those career changers who has decided to go ahead and commit to that change, we have some insight into some of the top educational job prospects in the next year.
1. Instructional coordinator/designer
Instructional designers, also known as instructional coordinators, are educational professionals who work more behind the scenes. They’re not necessarily in the classroom, but rather work with schools, school districts, teachers, and educational companies to develop and oversee educational curriculums and teaching standards. Their job may include training teachers, reviewing and recommending textbooks, creating materials that align with how students learn, working with new technology to develop comprehensive learning materials or programs, and instituting standards across disciplines or schools.
With the growing emphasis on curriculum standards and using technology in the classrooms, this is a field that is expected to grow faster than average over the next 10 years.
What you’ll need: This is a pretty specialized field, and most instructional coordinators have a master’s degree, as well as past experience working as a teacher or a school administrator. Some states require that these coordinators have a license if they work in public schools, so be sure to confirm your own state’s requirements.
What it pays: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), instructional coordinators make a median annual salary of $62,460 per year, or $30.03 per hour.
2. High school teacher
Teaching high school is not for the faint of heart. It requires a strong degree of familiarity with a subject and the ability to connect with teenagers in an educationally meaningful way. But if you’re up to the task of dealing with the nation’s 16-year-olds, there’s always a huge demand for secondary school teachers.
High school teachers typically have a specialty (like English, history, or math), and may teach different academic levels within that specialty. The job is heavy on classroom management, with a high volume of students, because the teacher may have a significant courseload. Most high schools keep regular hours (early morning until mid-afternoon), but teachers might also have to put time in during evenings and weekends to prepare for the days ahead. The good news is that you’ll likely have summers off.
What you’ll need: A bachelor’s degree, preferably in the education field. All states also require that public high school teachers be licensed, so if you plan to teach in a public school be sure to understand what your own state’s requirements are for certification.
What it pays: According to the BLS, high school teachers make a median annual salary of $58,030 per year.
For more on how to snag teaching jobs:
3. Elementary school teacher
If you’re interested in the classroom but are more interested in teaching a younger set of students, qualified elementary school teachers are also in high demand. Early childhood educators are responsible for the teaching and well-being of students ranging from kindergarten (or in some schools, pre-kindergarten) through fifth or sixth grade. They are often general specialists, and teach students a range of basic subjects like math, reading, writing, science, history/social studies to get them ready for the next grade. Because students are younger, there are often basic life skills taught as part of the classroom experience.
What you’ll need: A bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. Each state also requires that public school teachers be licensed, so if you plan to teach in a public school make sure to understand what your own state’s requirements are for certification.
What it pays: According to the BLS, elementary school teachers make a median annual salary of $55,490 per year.
For more on how to snag elementary school teaching jobs:
If you’re interested in a career in education but don’t have an education-specific degree, becoming a paraprofessional can be a great first step. Paraprofessionals, sometimes called teacher’s aides, are educational professionals who assist teachers in the classroom. Duties may include teaching lessons, helping with classroom behavior management, taking attendance, monitoring students during activities, helping with grading, or working directly with students who need help. Paraprofessionals can be found in elementary schools, secondary schools, or daycare facilities.
What you’ll need: A high school degree is usually the main educational requirement, but it helps to have completed some college courses or an Associate’s degree, particularly in education. Each state and school district has its own rules for paraprofessional certification, so you should see what your state requires. Many states and schools require that paraprofessionals take a standardized test to certify that these educators meet a minimum standard.
What it pays: According to the BLS, paraprofessionals make a median annual salary of $25,410 per year. This can vary based on experience, and whether the paraprofessional chooses to specialize in a particular teaching area (like special education).
For more on how to snag paraprofessional jobs:
5. STEM Teacher
Teachers who specialize in the STEM field (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) have a hugely bright future, as more and more school systems look to prepare students for an increasingly digital world. This is a specialty, usually taught on the high school level, where teachers prepare students for further study in engineering or the sciences. STEM teachers plan lessons, develop activities, integrate technology, and use current technology and science concepts in the classroom.
What you’ll need: A bachelor’s degree in the sciences or engineering. You may also need a bachelor’s degree or higher in education, as well. Each state also requires that public school teachers be licensed, so if you plan to teach in a public school make sure to understand what your own state’s requirements are for certification.
What it pays: According to the BLS, these specialized STEM teachers make a median annual salary of $107,490 per year.
If you’re considering an educational career path, it’s hard to think of a field that can be more fulfilling. If you’ve thought it over and have decided to set your career path in (or near) the classroom, there are a number of paths you can take to take advantage of the current trends in education. Wherever you choose to go, a focus on technology will always bring you to the most promising opportunities in today’s teaching world. Good luck!