Is teaching a good career? That depends on your career goals. Teachers help shape the future and can radically change the lives of the students they educate. However, molding young minds is not without challenges.
You may work with struggling students, navigate bureaucratic challenges and find that you can’t always do everything you wish you could for the children you teach. That doesn’t change the fact that, for most teachers, education is highly rewarding. In a recent survey, 80% of teachers agreed they were satisfied with their current position.
And although it’s never possible to pay teachers enough for the valuable work they do, teaching may not be as underpaid as you think. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, kindergarten and elementary school teachers had median annual earnings of $61,350 per year. Additionally, the benefits of a career as an educator extend well beyond your income. If you’re considering a career in teaching, here’s what you need to know.
The Benefits of a Career in Education
If you’re considering a career as a teacher, these factors can help you determine whether this path is the right one for you.
1. Demanding and Fulfilling
Teachers have to adapt to a wide variety of needs, such as the gifted student who flies through work, the traumatized child who needs emotional support or the struggling student with undiagnosed learning disabilities. For those who love children and want to shape the future generation, this work is highly fulfilling.
Teachers do more than help students master basic skills. They teach emotional intelligence, advocate for their pupils and instill self-esteem. Almost everyone has a teacher they will remember forever, and many people can point to a teacher who changed the course of their life. It’s hard to find any other profession with such immense power to paint a brighter tomorrow.
2. Job Stability
Education is critical to our economy and a core governmental function. Teaching jobs will never disappear, and as the population grows, so too will the need for highly qualified educators. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were nearly 1.5 million teaching positions in 2021, with a projected growth rate of 4% between 2021 and 2031.
Teaching is admittedly not the highest-paid profession. But teachers have long advocated for competitive compensation in other ways. At most schools, you can expect paid time off, health insurance, retirement plans and opportunities for professional development. Many schools will even pay for you to return to school. And with the summers off, there are myriad opportunities to pad your income by freelancing, tutoring or teaching at a summer camp.
4. Work-Life Balance
Teaching can be demanding during the school year. It’s not the kind of job you can leave behind each day. There may be students you think about for years to come. (But for passionate educators, that’s often a good thing.)
However, teaching also offers a great work-life balance. Having the summers off can give you time to recharge, travel with family, pursue additional educational credentials or even pick up a second job. Winter breaks, federal holidays, spring breaks and sometimes other clusters of paid time off are also the norm. Few other roles offer months off at a time. You can schedule your vacation around school breaks and still have plenty of paid time off left to use!
5. Lifelong Learning
Every learner, subject and new district poses unique challenges. Teachers quickly learn to be flexible, critical thinkers committed to a lifetime of learning. Throughout your career, you’ll build up an array of skills that can serve you well beyond work. You’ll be a better communicator, a more effective parent and a stronger advocate.
Many school systems also encourage teachers to continue formal education. They may offer certifications, in-service days or funding to return to school for additional training. An in-service day means that teachers get additional training from their school, usually on campus.
A master’s degree can increase your earnings in school systems that offer higher remuneration for more educated teachers. It can also open the door to roles in administration, which typically pay much more. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a master’s degree increased median weekly earnings by $240 in 2021.
6. Passion Put to Work
Teaching is more than just a job — it’s a vocation. Most teachers have felt called to education since their youth. Many believe they are shaping the world for the better and changing lives. If you’re creative, thoughtful and committed to children, teaching is an exceptionally good way to put your passion to work.
7. Support for Communities
“Children are the future” is a cliche because it’s true. By shaping the minds and hearts of today’s children, you help create the community of tomorrow and build a more thoughtful and better educated world.
However, these community-shaping benefits don’t just occur in the distant future. You can shape the world around you today. As a teacher, you support the smallest and most vulnerable people — an act of profound meaning that matters now and reverberates into the future.
If you love children and care about your community, teaching is deeply rewarding. You’ll witness students making progress and see families evolve and change. You will be able to live your life knowing that you’re affecting hundreds of people for the better.
8. Transitional Opportunities
For many people, teaching is a second career that affords them the chance to leverage skills learned elsewhere. But the morass of certification requirements can be difficult to wade through.
SNU makes transitioning to a career in teaching as easy as possible. SNU’s Master of Arts in Teaching empowers professionals from all backgrounds to easily transition to careers in education while building their academic credentials. Our alternative certification program offers an even faster path forward. And for veterans transitioning to civilian life, our Troops to Teachers program helps you put your leadership experience in the military to use in the classroom.
Tips for Transitioning to a Teaching Career
If you’re ready to make the switch to a career in teaching, you may be wondering where to start. Your first step is assessing whether teaching is right for you. If you think you’re ready, consider what sort of program might work best for your needs.
Some questions to ask include:
- How much time do I have to devote to my degree?
- What course structure works best for me?
- When do I want to start?
- How do I plan to pay for my degree?
When you choose your school, it’s important to look for an institution that is:
- Fully accredited.
- Open to adult learners with flexible course structures.
- Supportive of your financial goals with a comprehensive financial aid office.
- Invested in your future.
SNU caters to adult learners with unique course structures, expedited graduation, affordable classes and a degree program that prepares you to become a leader in the field. We’re here for you from day one.
An online degree program can make returning to school easier and more manageable. Learn more about what an online degree can offer you with our comprehensive guide.