education

How to Choose a Career Path in Education

by Lily White
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If you’ve always loved teaching others, a career in education might be right for you. Becoming a teacher is one of the most rewarding professions out there, especially when you see your students succeed. All teaching or educational careers are not the same. While some to put you at the forefront of it all, others take a more behind-the-scenes approach. For this reason, it’s not always easy to decide which way you want to go. Even if you love working directly with students, you might also want to take a more senior position, such as becoming a dean of a university.

Have the Right Credentials

To work in education, you must have a degree. In most cases, you need at least a bachelor’s to get started. However, to actually teach or work in a senior administrative role, you’ll need to earn a master’s degree. That said, you also need to find a way to finance your degree program. While some people choose to attend on a part-time basis and pay out of pocket, that may not work for you. Alternatively, you could apply for a student loan to help pay your tuition. These types of loans can be tailored to fit your financial needs as well as ability to pay it back. As with any other type of loan, never bite off more than you can chew. Only take out a loan for the amount you know you can comfortably afford.

Identify Your Strengths

Even though it might not seem like it at times, everyone has specific set of strengths. Some people are quick on their feet and can solve problems quickly whereas others might be very good at practicing empathy and be patient listeners. Before you begin making life changes, look inside and identify your strengths. Knowing what they are will not only fosters a feeling of self-confidence, but also allows you to build upon them at improve. If you find that the job you want requires a different skillset, you can choose to learn these skills, or possibly get hired for a different position and then learn on the job. The most important thing is doing what feels fright for you now. As time goes on, you may find that you are ready to shift gears and move onto a more diverse role.

Choose Your Top Three

Once you’ve identified your strong points, you can then choose your top three careers you want to pursue. Knowing your strengths first will also help narrow down your wish list. Why? Because each role requires a specific skillset, some of which you may or may not possess. Research each potential role you would like to have and try to imagine yourself working in it every day. Identify any daily happenings that you might find off-putting and then all of the aspects you already like about each job. Doing this will help you weed out any positions that don’t match your needs.

Also, you need to be sure that the job you dream about having also suits your personality. If you’re more of an introvert, will you feel comfortable having to speak in front of a classroom every day? If you’re an extrovert, will you really be happy sitting in your own office all day long without a lot of social interaction? If either of these situations don’t align with your personality, you might need to list them on your deal breaker list.

Define Your Deal Breakers

Similar to picking your top three passions, you also need to identify your top three deal breakers. Know that these will look different for everyone. Some people love to start their workday early while others want to work the typical 9-to-5 shift. In the case of teaching or working in another sector of education, you might want to only work with middle school, high school, or even college-level students. You may love the idea of working with smaller children but not love having to deal with temper tantrums, disgruntled parents and possibly even having to deal with a student not making it to the restroom in time.

When creating this list, take the time to really think about what you can and cannot tolerate. Remember, your job is a major part of your life, so you need to be happy. You should never have to grit your teeth and bear what you’re doing just to earn a paycheck. Furthermore, don’t beat yourself up if you discover what you thought was the right path really isn’t for you. There are plenty of other jobs better suited for you.

Education Sectors

There are a variety educational sectors you can choose to work in, and each requires a different subset of skills and possible requirements. If you have your heart set on working with preschoolers up through kindergarten, you’ll probably need to have additional certification in early childhood learning. Small children learn differently than older ones, so you need to understand the exact psychology behind it. While you can get started in the industry with a BA, you do need to earn a Masters of Arts in Teaching to be able to teach students.

You can also choose to earn a specialization, such as working with special needs students. In addition to holding a master’s degree, you’ll also need to earn certification to do so. The same holds true if you choose to find employment in the university setting as a teacher or admin. You need to have the skills to work with older students, sometimes even adults, and also be able manage others if you take a senior position.

Where Do You Want to Work?

With more and more people wanting to earn a degree online, you can also choose to teach online or in person. In fact, homeschooling has seen a huge uptick since the pandemic hit, so even kids as young as 4 are now attending online. One of the biggest benefits of working in this sector is the ability to work online and in-house, if you choose. Some people choose to do both at the same time, or they opt to work online during the summer until the fall sessions resumes.

 

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