Learning is a lifelong experience. From the moment we are born, we begin to learn ways to communicate with others to fulfill basic needs for food, warmth, and attention. Through our early interactions with our families, we begin to learn what works (a baby will cry when it needs food), what does not (a toddler’s temper tantrums generally are not rewarded), and some basic rules that we will use for the rest of our lives (such as looking both ways before crossing the street). As we mature and advance in our education and careers, we continue to learn about the rules, both written and unwritten, which enable us to better understand and constantly improve ourselves, our work, and our relationships to others. The careers in this cluster all deal with the fundamental tasks of education and training. Workers here provide instruction, management, counseling, and support to others.
There are three categories of jobs in this cluster: administration and administrative support, professional support services, and teaching/training.
Administration and Administrative Support
People who work in this area provide leadership in schools and school systems, colleges, and universities. They develop the policies and rules that guide those institutions, and they are responsible for implementing discipline when people violate those rules. Workers in this area also develop the curriculum and conduct testing and research to see where improvements or changes in education are needed. Examples of jobs in this pathway are college administrators, research assistants, and school administrators.
Professional Support Services
The highly specialized workers in this pathway provide testing, counseling, and support to students, educators, and parents. They may diagnose and recommend therapy for a student’s learning disability, administer a skills assessment to help a student decide on a career path, or work with a student to help improve speech difficulties. Examples of careers in this area include guidance counselors, school psychologists, and speech-language pathologists.
This pathway, which includes the largest number of jobs in this cluster, employs the teachers, professors, and support staff who provide instruction and training to students. Jobs in this area require a strong knowledge of a subject area, excellent communication skills, and a desire to help and work closely with students. Examples of jobs in this area include elementary school teachers, secondary school teachers, special education teachers, and teacher aides.
The education and training field employs some of the most highly educated workers in the job market. Most of the careers in the education and training cluster require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. Support staff such as teacher aides may be able to find employment with a high school diploma or associate’s degree, but teachers must have a degree in education or in their area of specialization, depending on the type of school in which they work. All 50 states require that elementary and secondary education teachers be licensed in order to teach. Most states also require continuing education and recertification for teachers. College and university professors are generally not certified teachers, but they have advanced degrees in their subject area. Graduate students pursuing a master’s degree or doctorate often teach as part of their degree requirements and to earn extra income. Positions in administration and professional support services usually require a master’s degree or Ph.D.
Working in this field requires a genuine love of learning and desire to help others. You must have strong communication skills, initiative, and the creativity to make lessons fresh and engaging, even though you may teach the same material many times over. Speak with your teachers and counselors at school. Ask why they decided to go into the education field and what sort of education and training they pursued to reach their goals.
The job outlook in education and training is excellent. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the field of education is expected to grow at a faster than average rate over the next 10 years. Aside from growth within the field, many job openings will arise from the need to replace workers who retire or change occupations. Opportunities should be especially good in schools in inner cities and rural areas, and in the following states that are predicted to have large increases in enrollment: Alaska, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, New Mexico, and Texas. Educators who speak two or more languages (especially English and Spanish) and those who specialize in math, science, and vocational education will have very good job prospects.
College and university enrollments are expected to increase, leading to much faster than average employment growth for postsecondary teachers. Competition for full-time faculty and administrator positions will remain high. Lower paid, part-time instructors, such as visiting professors and graduate students, are replacing tenure- track faculty positions and may present more opportunities.
The U.S. Department of Labor projects that the number of special education teachers, speech-language pathologists and audiologists, and counselors will grow faster than average through 2016. This is due to the increasing enrollment of special education students and a continued trend of including disabled students in general education classrooms. Jobs for teacher aides also will grow somewhat faster than average in general, special education, and English-as-a- second-language classrooms.