Maybe you’ve heard about it from a teacher or friend, or you’ve seen it in the movies or on TV: a young, intelligent, hard-working teacher jumps into a job at an understaffed and impoverished school. She has too many students with too many issues, and not enough time or resources to do her job. Why did she pick this career again? With mounting issues in the American education system, many teachers these days find themselves asking the same question. Nearly a quarter of teachers with three years or less of experience changed to another profession in 2009-2009. So what reasons are there for you to begin a career in the classroom? Though it can be challenging and it may not be a job for everyone, becoming a teacher can be a highly-satisfying career with lifelong benefits.
Love for Subject Matter
Do you really love a particular subject, such as math or Spanish? If you become a teacher, you could spend your days sharing that enthusiasm with your students. More than being an educator, you're a type of ambassador, building a bridge to introduce your students to a world of knowledge. Not only do you spend your days teaching topics that you love, but you're likely to play the role of the student as well: many teachers make note that they always have something to learn from their students, even if they've taught a topic dozens of times before.
Making a Difference
Yes, it can sound cheesy, but teachers who love their work can tell you it's true -- teaching is a way to make a profound difference in students' lives. Whether it's showing them their true educational potential, serving as a positive role model, or just lending an ear when things are tough, you’ll leave a lasting impression on students for years to come. It's also possible to touch lives beyond the classroom. Families and the greater community are aware of your work and thankful for the support that you give their kids.
The work of a teacher is not always easy; for example, you're more than likely to spend nights and weekends grading and preparing lessons. However, elementary and secondary school teachers usually enjoy the summers off. One of the perks of becoming a postsecondary school teacher, also known as a professor, is the potential for a very flexible schedule. In addition to a long summer break, many professors control their own office hours and teaching schedules. They may spend time performing independent research, taking sabbaticals and traveling for their work.
Though this should not be the primary reason to jump into a teaching career, it's still an important one: becoming a teacher gives you a certain amount of career security. The field of education has been around for a while and there is no sign that the need for teachers will disappear anytime soon. Between 2010 and 2020, the employment growth for many types of teachers is expected to be about average, ranging from 15-17 percent for kindergarten, elementary, postsecondary and adult literacy and GED teachers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some professions, such as nursing education, even have a serious shortage of qualified teachers. Outside of the specifics of each discipline, there is no limit to the number of places where you can teach, including kindergarten through college, community centers, youth programs, adult education classes, and the increasingly-popular option of online classes.
Samantha Ley writes career and education articles for various online publications. She also works in social media management and creates test materials and other educational content for various companies. Ley holds a B.A. in English and Spanish from Kenyon College and an M.Ed. from the University of Virginia.