Job security for teachers is truly a mixed bag because there are many factors to consider, such as economic conditions, the quality of an instructor's teaching, class size and overall student enrollment. Even though teachers are necessary for student growth and academic development, school districts often reduce their staff and increase classroom sizes to accommodate tight budgets. Because young children require constant supervision, teaching jobs at that level are usually most secure.
Kindergarten and Elementary
Teachers in kindergarten and elementary classrooms can expect continued job security over the next few years. Employment for that age group is expected to grow 17 percent through 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of course, teachers with effective teaching skills and up-to-date licensing credentials who develop strong relationships with students, parents and staff typically have the best outlook when it comes to job security. The BLS reports that Southern and Western portions of the country can expect the highest increase in job growth, with areas of the Midwest holding steady and Northeastern areas experiencing some decline.
Not all teachers are cut out to face the challenges of teaching high school students, but there is an increasing need for educators at that level. Even though job growth for high school teachers is expected to climb 7 percent until 2020, the increase in jobs is less than the national average for all professions, according to the BLS. Because of enrollment increases and the need for more classes, high school teachers can expect some job security. However, enrollment growth of high school students is expected to be less than the growth in other grades. Some high school students drop out or spend part of their time at vocational schools or colleges, so the number of enrolled students slowly drops off as students get older. Geographic demands for high school teachers parallel those of kindergarten and elementary teachers.
Economic concerns and available school budgets have an huge impact on job security for teachers. According to a MetLife report released in 2012, 66 percent of teachers experienced layoffs and 76 percent experienced budget cuts at their schools. Even though most regions experienced enrollment growth, elementary schools and high schools had to cut programs, including social and health services, because of budget constraints. Schools that experience economic difficulties often lay off teachers who instruct courses that aren't considered core courses. For example, math, science, history and English teachers could experience the highest levels of job security.
Skills and Credentials
As with most professions, teachers who are educated and skilled typically experience the most job security. Even though tenured teachers have a high employment retention rate, many of them are baby boomers who will be retiring during the next few years. As a result, college graduates with advanced degrees in education, state-issued licensing credentials and exemplary student-teaching experiences might be at an advantage when it comes to landing a teaching job. Ultimately, job security is often strongest for teachers who effectively educate students and help them meet or exceed state and federal academic standards.
As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.