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    Getting Started in Three Education Careers

    If you are interested in a career in education, you may ask yourself, ‘What kind of educator do I want to be?’, and, ‘Where do I begin?’ Answering these questions starts with understanding the education labor market as well as beginning to develop your career pathway.

    Supported by data from the U.S. Department of Labor and Bureau of Labor Statistics, I’ve already done some of the research for you. Below are three suggested entry-level careers that could get you started on the right track for a career in education.

    Teacher Assistants

    Working as a teacher assistant is a great place to start your career in education. Individuals in this role work closely with the primary teacher in elementary or high school classrooms to carry out lesson plans, and help with lesson plan preparation and reinforcement. They assist students one on one, and monitor student behavior, among other responsibilities.

    • Educational requirement: High school diploma; an associate degree in some cases.
    • Earnings potential: $10-16/hour depending on location, experience and qualifications.
    • Other titles: Teacher aide, instructional aide, paraprofessional.
    • Occupation growth: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this profession is projected to grow 9 percent from 2012 to 2022, about as fast as the average for all occupations. See a full occupational overview here.

    Preschool Teachers

    Another great place to begin a career in education is at the preschool level, especially if you have a passion for working with young children.  Preschool teachers usually work with children between the ages of 3 and 5 years old.  They develop lesson plans to provide children with the foundations for academic success using a variety of creative, fun and imaginative exercises.

    • Educational requirement: At least a high school diploma; some states may require you to obtain a Child Development Associate certification or a Certified Childcare Professional certification.
    • Earnings potential: $13.26 hourly, $27,570 annually (median).
    • Other titles: Pre-K teacher, Head Start teacher, early childhood teacher.Occupation growth: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of preschool teachers is projected to grow 17 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations. See a full occupational overview here.

    Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers

    Many of our early childhood memories begin in kindergarten – teaching this age group could be a great place to begin your career in education. Kindergarten teachers take on the challenging task of providing the first year of formal education for children ages 5 and 6. While providing a nurturing environment, teachers begin to instruct on basic math and reading skills, and prepare lesson plans to engage the entire class through individual assignments and small group exercises.

    • Educational requirement: At least a bachelor’s degree, with a major in early childhood education, elementary education or early childhood development. A state licensure will also be required; information regarding each state’s education agency can be found through the Department of Education.
    • Earnings potential: $53,590 annually (median).
    • Other titles: Elementary teacher, kinder teacher.
    • Occupation growth: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this profession is projected to grow 9 percent from 2012 to 2022, about as fast as the average for all occupations. See a full occupational overview here.

    Visit GoodProspects and learn more about careers in education by joining the discussion with our unique community of job seekers, career advancers and expert mentors.

    Dennis Nelson
    Dennis Nelson joined Goodwill Industries International as a Career Navigation Program Specialist in June 2014. He supports the GoodProspects® for Credentials to Careers initiative, which is dedicated to supporting members that are engaged in training, credentialing and employment services for nontraditional students. Dennis is considered an advocate for social change and has devoted his career to serving people through civic engagement, career advancement, and professional development.
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