Job and Industry Resources for
Education & Instruction Careers
Entering the education profession means taking on one of the most crucial responsibilities in society: Providing students with the knowledge – basic or advanced – that they’ll need to succeed in their own chosen fields. Whether you’re helping kindergartners learn to count, getting elementary schoolers hooked on science, tutoring young musicians on their instruments, coaching physical fitness classes or assisting graduate-level professors, you’ll need all the help you can get if you want to survive in today’s tough education-job climate. So here, we’ll explain how to track down communities and other websites that can set you apart from the crowd – and how to use that information to help land you the teaching job you want.
Complete your training
As you probably already know, high-level education jobs require high-level training. Though you don’t necessarily need a degree to teach preschool or serve as a private tutor, you will be expected to present your credentials if you want to teach most subjects at the elementary, junior high, high school or college level. And even if you do plan to go the private-tutoring route, a degree – whether in the subject you’re tutoring or otherwise – will distinguish you from the competition.
If you’re interested in teaching at the collegiate level, the most direct path is to complete a bachelor’s-degree program, enter a graduate program, and serve as a teaching assistant (T.A.) for undergraduate classes – which you’re likely to end up doing as part of your grad-school education anyway, whether you set out to or not. As you progress in your graduate program, you’ll stand a better shot at landing your own classes to teach – and once you’ve earned a master’s degree, you’ll be well-qualified to teach undergrad classes in your area of study.
Although some high schools do hire teachers who haven’t earned graduate degrees, a master’s degree – or, at the very least, a bachelor’s – in the subject you aim to teach will increase your chances of finding a teaching job at that level too. Plus, if your goal is truly to educate and inspire your students, you’ll be able to provide them with a much more solid knowledge base if you’re formally trained in the subject you teach.
Elementary school administrators, on the other hand, are likely to be more interested in whether you’ve received any formal training in education. Since you’ll be teaching the basics of a wide variety of subjects to a classroom of fidgety kids, the most important skills here are classroom management, a working understanding of different learning styles, and a creative approach to hands-on projects – all core skills you’ll acquire on the way to a degree in education.
On the other hand, you may be able to earn your basic certification to teach in a variety of specialized programs – such as Montessori or special education – in a comparatively short time; that is, in a matter of months rather than years. Some specialty programs will even allow you to earn your certification online, from home. The websites of these programs are ideal places to start your quest for the info you need to take concrete steps toward certification.
The official site of the International Montessori Index, for example, provides contact information for Montessori teacher training programs, sorted by geographical region. The website of the Council for Exceptional Children, meanwhile, offers a detailed walkthrough of the professional preparation expected of special educators, along with a contact number to call for more info, under the "Standards" link at the top of their website. Even if you can’t start earning your certification directly from a certain program’s website, the program’s staff will still help you get pointed in the right direction.
Search with skill
You can find out more about the level of training you’ll need by searching Google for terms like (for example) "music education certification," "physical education teacher training" or "California K-12 teaching standards" – substituting your own area of interest and/or geographical region where necessary. Most states and countries maintain their own teaching standards for public schools – and many private schools set their own specific standards – so you’ll be doing yourself a favor by scouting out what’ll be expected of you before you dive into the job hunt.
Communities on social networking websites like Facebook and LinkedIn are also great places to get your certification questions answered. Just type your area of interest into the site’s search box and refine your search from there. Facebook gives you the drop-down options to "Find all groups named…" – while LinkedIn allows you to focus your search on group pages (as opposed to personal ones), to search for groups that include people in your network, and to sort your results by geographical region.
To distinguish useful groups from less-useful ones, just keep a few fairly-obvious criteria in mind: Does the group include thousands of members, or just a few? Are many members actively posting, or just the same one or two, over and over again? Do comment threads peter out quickly, or do members keep contributing to the discussion? All these signs can help you tell the difference between a thriving group and a dull one.
And by the way, if a group is marked as "private," there’s no reason you can’t submit a request to join. Many groups simply use this privacy setting to keep out the riffraff, and to help make sure discussions stay focused on relevant topics.
When it comes to tracking down an education job, you’ve got two main categories of options: Job boards and staffing firms. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages, and you may want to combine both approaches in your own search – especially when you’re getting an initial overall idea of the education job marketplace in your area.
Online job boards abound in the education field, and many of them specialize in particular aspects of it. To cite just a few examples, AAMC CareerConnect matches job seekers with employers in academic medicine, Community College Jobs provides (as you might’ve guessed) listings of opportunities at community colleges in the US and Canada, and HigherEd Jobs focuses on collegiate and post-collegiate teaching positions. Other job boards, such as AcademicKeys and SchoolSpring, offer education job listings in a wide variety of subcategories.
The main advantage of getting in touch with education recruiters and staffing firms is that, if you fit their criteria, they’ll do the job-searching for you. While many of these firms tend to focus on executive-level administrative positions, some of them do place candidates in teaching jobs as well. The only way to find out what they have to offer is to get in touch and explain your situation. The site Academic360.com provides an extensive list of educational staffing firms, and you can also try a Google search – including the name of your specialty, as described in the "Search with skill" section above – to find out if any firms cater to professionals in your particular area.
Your educational career, in short, begins with your own education – not only in your chosen field of study, but also in the online communities, certification programs, job boards and other resources that’ll get you connected to the opportunities you’re looking for. Set aside just a few minutes each day to learn something new on your career options, and you’ll soon find that you’re becoming an expert on the career fields of education and instruction. But putting your newfound expertise to practical use, of course, will be up to you.
SchoolSpring — A searchable nationwide database of open positions at all levels of education.
Betterfly — A free site that connects people offering all sorts of educational services with those who want to learn. You can even post your own listings.
Search Firms, from Academic360.com — A large list of search firms that cater to professionals in the education field.
Also visit our Career Research Center to learn more about jobs, salaries, and employment growth in Education.