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Teachers are an essential part of our society — and they have more career options than most people realize.

It's a common misconception that graduates with teaching degrees can only become teachers. In fact, the education sector offers a variety of careers besides teaching, including administrative careers like instructional coordinator, archivist, or librarian. Many education careers require a postsecondary education, and they all depend on strong interpersonal skills.

This page covers information about unique education careers, including employment growth and salary rates for each. You can also look through our career guide to learn more about job options, education requirements, and salaries for non-education careers.

See also: What Can You Do With an Education Degree?

Featured Schools

Adult Basic and Secondary Education and ESL Teachers

2020 Median Pay $55,350
Job Outlook 2019-2029 -10%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

What They Do

Adult literacy teachers and GED instructors work with adults and teens not in school who need help learning basic skills like reading and writing. They can also be English language teachers, working with students who speak another language natively. Their students are usually working toward an adult GED or high school diploma.

These instructors evaluate student strengths and weaknesses, then develop lesson plans to help them. They may be generalist teachers or they may focus on teaching specific skill sets. They also help their students find jobs in the community after graduation.

Education and Certifications

Most states require a bachelor's degree and a teaching license or certification to become an adult literacy teacher or GED instructor.

Previous instructing experience or an advanced degree, such as a master's degree, can also help. In particular, a master's concentration in English as a second language (ESL) or English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) can come in handy.

Most adult literacy teachers and GED instructors must take continuing education classes to stay current with new developments and renew their teaching certifications.

Archivists

2020 Median Pay $56,760
Job Outlook 2019-2029 11%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

What They Do

Archivists research, protect, and document artefacts of historical value or significance. This can include historical documents, like the Declaration of Independence, or entertainment history, such as the original reel of The Wizard of Oz. Archivist careers can also include working with specific media, such as digital records, manuscripts, photographs, and sound recordings.

Archivists often use electronic devices and computer programs to make accessing and protecting historical manuscripts and documents faster and easier. They need to be talented researchers with attention to detail and a love of historical documentation. Many archives technicians also organize educational tours, conferences, and classes for museums and historical sites.

Education and Certifications

People interested in an archivist career typically need a bachelor or master of library science, a master or bachelor of history degree, or a bachelor's degree in a related field. However, some employers require a more specific master's degree, such as a master of archives and records administration (MARA), as well as volunteer and internship experience. Some archival roles require advanced degrees in specific fields, such as computer science or medicine.

Archives technicians with at least a master's degree and work experience can obtain the Certified Archivist credential. They must also pass a written exam offered through the Academy of Certified Archivists.

A doctorate help an archivist gain management positions. Workshops and additional continuing educational classes also help archivists advance in their careers.

Career and Technical Education Teachers

2020 Median Pay $59,140
Job Outlook 2019-2029 2%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

What They Do

Career and technical education teachers prepare students to enter a particular occupation, such as healthcare, cosmetology, or agriculture. They may also work with school districts and employers to develop educational programs that work with actual businesses, or they may work at a technical college or school.

A typical day for these teachers includes coordinating lessons plans, teaching students through hands-on learning assignments and tests, grading papers, and assessing student strengths and weaknesses. They also work with local employers to coordinate internships for students.

Education and Certifications

Requirements for education, work experience, and licensing vary by state, but most states require a bachelor's degree from an accredited teacher program and a minimum number of student teaching hours.

All public school educators need a state-issued certificate or license, and many teachers need a degree in the field they plan to teach. Private school educators typically don't need a license.

Most states and districts require teachers to take continuing education classes to keep their teaching licenses. They may also require career teachers and technical education teachers to earn a master's degree following certification.

Career teachers and technical education teachers can use an advanced degree, work experience, or certifications to become principals, counselors, or community college instructors.

Curators, Museum Technicians, and Conservators

2020 Median Pay $45,710
Job Outlook 2019-2029 11%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

What They Do

Museum technicians, museum curators, and museum conservators have extensive knowledge of art, business, archeology, and history, as well as an eye for detail and art studio training. Museum curators manage the business side of museums, including buying, inspecting, storing, and evaluating the authenticity of collections.

Meanwhile, a museum technician answers questions from the public and takes care of the collections owned by or loaned to the institution. Conservators preserve, restore, research, and document artifacts and works of art. This work requires specialized laboratory skills, like chemical and microscopic analysis. Museum conservators also conduct educational programs and write research articles.

Education and Certifications

People seeking a museum curator career or a museum conservator career typically need a master's degree. However, some employers hire curators with only a bachelor's degree and work experience. Conservators typically need substantial experience and a degree in conservation or something similar, though volunteer roles are often available with lower barriers to entry.

A museum technician usually needs a bachelor's degree and many years of work experience, usually in designing museum exhibits. Museum curators with several years of experience, research, and published articles can advance into roles like museum director.

Health Educators

2020 Median Pay $48,140
Job Outlook 2019-2029 13%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

What They Do

Health educators collect and analyze population data to identify community needs, then plan, implement, and monitor programs to encourage a healthy lifestyle. This can include working with individuals or developing community programming to encourage healthy decision-making at all ages.

Health education specialists can be generalists or they can focus on particular groups, like children, families, the elderly, or people with a particular condition, such as heart disease or diabetes. Some community health professionals also work training other healthcare workers.

Education and Certifications

Health educators need at least a bachelor's in health education or promotion or something similar. Most programs for health education specialists include an internship. Some federal government and state public health education jobs require a master's degree, such as a master of health education or a master of public health degree.

Some employers prefer to hire certified health education specialists. These are entry-level health educators who have earned a special credential. To maintain certification, health educators must complete 75 hours of continuing education every five years. Community health educators can also pursue apprenticeships.

High School Teachers

2020 Median Pay $62,870
Job Outlook 2019-2029 4%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

What They Do

High school teachers work with students in 9th-12th grade to prepare them for careers or going to college after high school. These teachers need excellent communication and listening skills, a great deal of patience, and a desire to make a difference in teenagers' lives. High school teachers typically specialize in a particular subject, like math or English.

High school teachers must plan lessons in line with administrative, state, and national curriculum objectives; support students through personal and academic difficulties; and enforce school rules both in and out of the classroom. High school teachers also monitor and report student strengths and weaknesses through regular tests and exams, parent conferences, and report cards.

Education and Certifications

Public high school teachers need a bachelor's degree in one or more content areas, such as English or science, as well as a state-issued license or certificate. In most states, high school teachers must attend continuing education classes to maintain their certifications. However, high school teachers in private schools typically don't need certification.

While earning their college degrees, aspiring high school teachers also gain classroom experience through teacher assistant placements in local schools. In some states, a master's degree may also be necessary for certification.

To advance to an administrative role, such as a principal or assistant principal, high school teachers typically need a master's degree and significant teaching experience. Some teachers go on to become high school counselors or instructional coordinators.

Instructional Coordinators

2020 Median Pay $66,970
Job Outlook 2019-2029 6%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

What They Do

Instructional coordinators design, implement, assess, and improve school districts' teaching and curriculum standards. They set high standards for education and ensure that students are getting the help they need.

Instructional coordinators correct curriculum issues, instruct professional development classes, and update teaching techniques to improve learning outcomes. This can include organizing teacher-training conferences that cover topics like how to use instructional materials or overall classroom teaching methods. They sometimes work with specific grade levels or specialties, such as math or special education.

Instructional coordinators also monitor teachers, evaluating their strengths and weaknesses, and make recommendations about educational materials, supplies, and methods. They work closely with other educational administrators and school committees.

Education and Certifications

Instructional coordinators need a master's in education and a state license. In many school districts, they must also specialize in a particular field or grade level, such as secondary math or language arts. They typically have previous experience as a teacher or educational administrator.

Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers

2020 Median Pay $56,900
Job Outlook 2019-2929 7%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

What They Do

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers work with young students to teach them fundamental skills like writing, reading, and math. They also help children develop good social skills.

Elementary school teachers plan lessons, help students develop learning skills, monitor students for physical, social, and emotional health, and enforce classroom rules. They also record student progress through regular tests, parent conferences, and report cards.

Elementary school teachers usually educate children up to fourth or fifth grade, though some elementary schools go as high as sixth, seventh, and eighth grades. Many elementary teachers also work with special education teachers to help children with special needs or learning disabilities.

Education and Certifications

Most kindergarten and elementary school teachers need a bachelor's degree and a state-issued teaching license. However, private school teachers usually don't need certifications. In many states, kindergarten and elementary school teachers must major in a specific subject area, such as math or reading, though they usually teach several subjects. They also need student teaching experience.

Most states require teachers to take continuing education classes to remain certified. Some schools may also require kindergarten teachers and elementary school teachers to have a master's degree, especially if they want to advance in their careers.

Elementary teachers can also use advanced education, such as a master's in education administration, to pursue an administrative role like principal or curriculum coordinator.

Librarians

2020 Median Pay $60,820
Job Outlook 2019-2029 5%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

What They Do

Libraries are constantly changing and evolving as services like e-borrowing, e-books, and apps gain popularity. Librarians help people conduct research and navigate through books, reference materials, multi-media sources, and database technology. Librarians must love books and multimedia and have excellent communication, research, organization, technology, and people skills.

Librarians can work in many settings, including educational institutions, museums, libraries, companies, and government agencies. They may organize data, conduct research, curate library collections, or plan library events and children's activities. Librarians also manage budgetary issues, staff training, and purchasing new equipment.

Education and Certifications

People interested in a librarian career typically need a master's degree, often called a master's in library science (MLS) degree, which takes 1-2 years to complete.

To enter a master in library science program, students need a bachelor's degree and prerequisite coursework. Certification laws vary by state, but most institutions require certification — especially for school librarians.

To work in legal sectors and corporate institutions, a librarian may substitute a MLS degree with a master's or Ph.D. in a relevant subject area, like paralegal studies.

Library Technicians and Assistants

2020 Median Pay $31,840
Job Outlook 2019-2029 -4%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

What They Do

Library technicians and assistants work with librarians to manage libraries more efficiently. They help patrons navigate reference materials, library catalogues, audiovisual equipment, and other library resources.

Library technicians and library assistants also renew and circulate books, organize and process library materials, distribute library cards, and assist with special projects. Library technicians have more responsibilities than library assistants, though both are considered entry-level careers.

Education and Certifications

Most institutions prefer library technicians and assistants to have a postsecondary certification or teaching credentials, especially if a candidate is applying for a position like school library technician. Common degrees in this role include an associate degree in library technology, an associate in library technician degree, or a library technician certificate. However, smaller libraries may hire library assistants with only a high school education.

Taking on additional responsibilities can help library technicians and assistants advance to supervisory or administrative positions. However, to become librarians, they will need a master's degree in library science.

Middle School Teachers

2020 Median Pay $60,810
Job Outlook 2019-2029 4%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

What They Do

Middle school teachers, also known as junior high school teachers, work with students in grades 6-8 — and sometimes up to grade nine — helping them transition from elementary school to high school.

Middle school teachers plan lessons in line with curriculum objectives, working closely with students to develop skills. They usually specialize in a single subject area. Middle school teachers also monitor student's social and emotional health, enforce rules both in and out of the classroom, and report student strengths and weaknesses through regular tests, webpage bulletins, parent conferences, and report cards.

Many junior high school teachers also work with special education departments to assist children with special needs and learning disabilities.

Education and Certifications

Middle school teachers need a bachelor's degree and a state-issued license or certificate. In many states, middle school teachers must major in the topic they intend to teach, like science, math, or English. Middle school teachers also need student teaching experience.

Most states require teachers to take continuing education classes to remain certified. However, middle school teachers at private schools usually don't need certification. Some schools may require a master's degree.

Through advanced training, education, or certification, junior high school teachers can advance into administrative roles, such as principals and assistant principals. They also can become lead teachers or instructional coordinators.

Postsecondary Education Administrators

2020 Median Pay $97,500
Job Outlook 2019-2029 4%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

What They Do

Postsecondary education administrators keep colleges and universities running. They oversee student services, academics, and research. They usually work in one specific department, so job responsibilities vary.

Administrators working in admissions determine which students receive acceptance. They may travel the country to speak with high school counselors and students, answering their questions. They may also work in the financial aid department, helping students.

Administrators working in the registrar's office maintains student and course records. They help students register for classes stay on track to graduate. Postsecondary education administrators in the registrar office also plan commencement ceremonies.

Administrators working in student affairs oversee nonacademic school functions, such as student athletics, clubs, and multicultural affairs. Students visit the student affairs offices for advice on housing, personal issues, or academics.

Some postsecondary education administrators are called "provosts." They work with college presidents, helping develop academic policies. Provosts may also assist with faculty appointments, tenure decisions, and managing budgets.

Education and Certifications

Most postsecondary education administrator positions require at least a master's degree, like a social work, accounting, or marketing degree. Those seeking high-level positions need a Ph.D. either in higher education or in a subject they previously taught as a professor.

There are no specific certifications or licenses for postsecondary education administrators, but many employers — particularly in the registrar's office — do require work experience.

Postsecondary Teachers

2020 Median Pay $80,790
Job Outlook 2019-2029 9%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

What They Do

Postsecondary teachers instruct college students, helping them earn a degree or learn a trade or profession. Postsecondary teachers often conduct research and write for academic journals, too.

Postsecondary teachers specialize in particular subjects. Some focus on core subjects of liberal arts programs. Others teach career-specific skills, training students to pursue roles like lawyer, nurses, culinary arts expert, or engineer.

Postsecondary teachers working for universities usually work on research and applying for grants to fund their work. Increasingly, a postsecondary teaching career can also mean teaching online courses.

Education and Certifications

Postsecondary teachers at four-year schools usually need a doctoral degree in their subject area. Junior and community colleges hire teachers with a master's degree, especially for adjunct positions. Experience or certification can lead to a postsecondary teaching career at a technical or trade school.

Postsecondary teachers often seek tenure, which requires research, critical reviews, and published work. Tenured professors are guaranteed employment and often make higher salaries than their non-tenured peers. Tenured postsecondary teachers can pursue administrative posts, such as dean or president.

Preschool and Childcare Center Directors

2020 Median Pay $49,160
Job Outlook 2019-2029 1%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

What They Do

Preschool and childcare center directors work directly with children while also overseeing staff and daily activities, planning lessons and activities, and managing budgets. They are responsible for hiring staff members and providing training and professional development opportunities for staff members. Childcare center directors also set program policies for staff to follow.

When conflicts arise between children, a preschool directorwill often assist staff in resolving it. This can involve contacting parents and explaining the situation. Directors also regularly speak with parents about the overall progress of their children.

Directors also ensure that the facility they manage is clean, safe, and meets state regulations. When relevant, they are also responsible for ensuring they meet the standards of the parent organization. If the preschool or childcare center receives state and federal funding, the director must ensure the program meets state and federal guidelines.

Education and Certifications

Preschool or childcare center directors need a license in every state, though education requirements vary. Some states require only a high school diploma or associate degree, while others mandate a bachelor of early childhood education. Most preschool and childcare center directors need previous work experience in early childhood education.

In some states, childcare center directors need a nationally recognized certification. For example, many states require the Child Development Associate (CDA) certification offered through the Council for Professional Recognition. Some states also recognize the Child Care Professional (CCP) designation through the Nation Early Childhood Program Accreditation.

Preschool Teachers

2020 Median Pay $31,930
Job Outlook 2019-2029 2%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

What They Do

Preschool teachers help children develop a positive attitude about school and learn how to be in a classroom. Daily tasks include organizing activities to promote physical, mental, and social development. This may mean reading books to entire classes, teaching basic science or social concepts, and evaluating children's behavior, social development, and physical health.

Preschool teachers help students learn basic skills, such as personal hygiene, social skills, and recognizing colors, shapes, numbers, and letters.

Education and Certifications

Educational requirements for preschool teachers vary by school and state. They may need only a high school diploma and certification, or they may need a bachelor's degree. Preschool teachers in public schools need a license to teach early childhood education, which usually requires a bachelor's degree and passing a competency exam, as well as taking continuing education courses to maintain licensure. Private schools often don't require licensure.

Some states and schools require preschool teachers to have a nationally recognized certification. These usually require a high school diploma, experience in the field, and prerequisite coursework.

Entry-level preschool teachers can advance from assistant teacher to teacher to lead teacher, which means being responsible for several classes. A preschool teacher with a bachelor's degree can often teach up to third grade. Teaching higher grades requires more education.

School and Career Counselors

2020 Median Pay $58,120
Job Outlook 2019-2029 8%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

What They Do

School counselors get to know students and help them develop social skills and succeed in school. School career counselors help students choose a career or educational program, guiding them through employment, vocational, or college options.

Education and Certifications

In most states, school counselors need a master of school counseling degree or a master's degree in a related field. For career counselors, employers prefer a master's in counseling with a focus on career development. Many master's programs also require supervised experience, such as an internship.

School counselors need state-issued credentials — sometimes called certifications or endorsements. Most states require criminal background checks. While few employers require licenses for high school career counselors, those working in private practice must have a license. Licensure requires a master's degree and 2,000-3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience, as well as passing grades on a state-recognized exam and annual continuing education.

Self-Enrichment Teachers

2020 Median Pay $39,960
Job Outlook 2019-2029 10%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

What They Do

Self-enrichment teachers instruct students in specialty areas like art, music, foreign language, or sports. Some of the classes cover academic subjects, such as literature and history; others focus on life skills, such as cooking, personal finance, and time management. Still others focus on recreation, like photography, pottery, and painting. In religious schools, self-enrichment teachers may teach marriage preparation or religious education.

Self-enrichment teachers sometimes offer private instruction, but they usually work in classroom settings. They may also work with adults. Self-enrichment teachers may work with a student for just one or two sessions or for several years.

Education and Certifications

In many cases, self-enrichment teachers don't need a degree or certification, though they do need expertise in their subject area. Formal education is more important for self-enrichment teachers focusing on academic subjects, like music or a foreign language. Those working in public schools do need a formal education — usually including a bachelor's or master's degree — and teaching licensure.

Special Education Teachers

2020 Median Pay $61,420
Job Outlook 2019-2029 3%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

What They Do

Special education teachers work one-on-one or in group settings with students who have mental, emotional, physical, or developmental disabilities. When working with students who have mild or moderate disabilities, special education teachers design educational strategies to suit each student's needs. For people with more severe challenges, a special education teacher focuses on developing basic literacy, communication, math, and life skills.

Some special education teachers specialize in a specific disability, such as deafness, blindness, or a developmental disability, like Down syndrome. Special education teachers work at all levels of the education system.

Education and Certifications

Public schools require special education teachers to have a bachelor's degree and a certificate or license issued by the state. Many states require special education teachers to have a master's degree.

Certification requirements for special education teachers vary, but they often include student teaching periods and professional development classes. Increasingly, states also require a background check and fingerprinting.

Special education teachers with experience can become lead teachers, guiding new special education teachers to improve their skills. With advanced education, they can become school counselors or instructional coordinators. Some special education teachers become principals or administrators.

Teacher Assistants

2020 Median Pay $28,900
Job Outlook 2019-2029 4%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

What They Do

Teacher assistants provide extra attention and instruction for students in classroom settings. They work under the supervision of an experienced teacher, delivering direct services to students or parents. The teachers who supervise assistant teachers are responsibile for the design and implementation of educational plans, while the assistants help with maintaining order and educating students.

Education and Certifications

Requirements and job titles vary between school districts, but teacher assistants usually need a high school diploma or equivalent. Some districts require at least two years of college or an associate degree. Teacher aides who work in schools with Title 1 programs must have at least a two-year degree, two years of college, or pass a state or local assessment.

Common degrees for teaching assistants include an associate in educational assistance - paraprofessional degree, an associate in early childhood education, or an associate in elementary education.

Most states require teaching assistants to complete a skills-based test to work with special needs students. Some school districts require all teacher assistants to have national certification.

Common Questions About Education Careers

true What Are the Best Jobs in Education?

Teaching or professor positions, where professionals get to work directly with students, are the most popular jobs in education. However, what job is the best depends on each person's interests and career goals.

true What Job in Education Makes the Most Money?

Postsecondary education administrators — including college provosts or presidents — make the most out of any education career. The median salary for these administrators in 2020 was $97,500.

true What Is the Highest Job in Education?

Administrative positions are the highest jobs in educational institution. This can include school principals and college presidents, but it also includes superintendents and instructional coordinators.

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