Teaching Careers

Updated May 18, 2023

Teaching Careers

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Good teachers inspire their students to become a lifelong learner and a productive member of society. Other benefits include working with different age groups exploring multiple potential workplaces, such as daycare centers, public and private K-12 schools, and postsecondary institutions.

Many jobs in education feature a salary higher than what the typical U.S. worker earns. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that high school teachers make a median $62,870 annual salary. The BLS also projects the need for these educators to grow as fast as average from 2019-2029. This projection suggests graduates in the next few years should enter a stable job market.

Obtaining a job in the education field requires an associate, bachelor's, master's, or doctorate, depending on the career. Qualities lending well to teaching careers include an inquisitive mindset, patience, and honed interpersonal communication skills. Aspiring educators should also possess a desire to leave a lasting positive impact on developing minds.

Frequently Asked Questions About Teaching

Q. What jobs can I get with a bachelor's in education?

A bachelor's in education leading to teacher licensure prepares graduates to work at a public K-12 school. These degree-seekers specialize in either primary or secondary education.

Q. How do I start a career in teaching?

Substitute teaching allows individuals interested in education jobs to explore the field without returning to school. However, becoming a licensed educator involves completing an approved teacher-preparation program.

Q. What careers can teachers go into?

The answer depends on the degree. All states require licensed educators to possess a bachelor's degree. Colleges offer teaching positions to professionals with a master's or doctorate.

Q. Is a teacher a good career?

The answer depends on the individual. A teaching career appeals to individuals accustomed to juggling multiple responsibilities, collaborating with peers, and meeting their students' unique needs.

How to Become a Teacher

Prospective public high school teachers need at least a bachelor's degree. Many degree-seekers earn a bachelor's in education or teaching while double majoring in the topic they plan to teach. State-approved programs require student teaching, a one-semester experience wherein learners work under a licensed educator. Nontraditional students who possess a bachelor's in another subject earn a master's in teaching or complete a shorter teacher-preparation program.

An initial teaching license qualifies graduates to apply to positions at public schools. Students work toward licensure by passing PRAXIS subject tests or state-specific exams. Other requirements include a criminal background check.

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Teaching Specializations

Students preparing for a teaching career select a specialization, such as primary, secondary, or special education. This choice affects learners' academic experiences and career trajectories, as a specialization involves taking multiple upper-division courses and specific licensure exams. A licensed teacher may need to return to school or pass additional exams to change their specialization.

The following sections highlight just a few options colleges and universities offer degree-seekers. Other opportunities include Montessori and school counseling, both of which prepare learners for education jobs. Speak with a college admissions counselor to learn more about the education program's specializations and graduate outcomes.

Primary Education

Also known as elementary education, primary education refers to K-6 education. The specialization appeals to students wanting to work with young children. Learning outcomes include the ability to introduce learners to all core academic areas and recognize learning disabilities.

Typical courses include advanced issues in child development and learning, curriculum study in early childhood education, and promoting young children's social and emotional development. Graduation requirements may involve field experiences in addition to student teaching.

Secondary Education

Learners specializing in secondary education prepare for a career educating students in grades 7-12. The specialization features much of the same core curriculum as primary education. However, secondary education degree-seekers take additional courses in adolescents' physical and mental development. Graduation requirements include taking courses such as content reading and literacy, introduction to special education, and integration of educational technology.

A secondary education concentration may feature an academic focus area, such as social studies, foreign language, or mathematics. This additional training prepares students to pass one or more licensure exams.

Special Education

Degree-seekers at the bachelor's level earn a degree in primary or secondary education with a concentration in special education. Master's programs may focus on special education exclusively, especially those designed for experienced and licensed educators.

No matter the degree, courses may include special education's legal aspects, inclusive strategies for students with disabilities, and assessment for special education teachers. Graduates use their training to work with learners with physical and mental disabilities, making public school education more equitable.

What Are the Education Requirements for Teaching?

The education jobs graduates pursue depends on their degree and whether they possess a teaching license. The following sections feature careers aligning with an associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctorate. Please keep in mind that additional career opportunities exist for qualified educators. Consult an academic or career advisor to discuss these and other job opportunities.


Typical graduation requirements for an associate in education include coursework in classroom management, teaching diverse populations, and technology in education. Students also take courses in core academic subjects, such as mathematics and English.

An associate in education does not prepare graduates for a teaching career requiring licensure. However, alumni go on to work as a teacher assistant, nanny, or preschool teacher. These and other opportunities introduce workers to the education field, inspiring some professionals to pursue a bachelor's.


Bachelor's in education programs may offer a licensure and a nonlicensure track. The latter features courses in children's literature, foundations in teaching, and educational psychology. Job opportunities for graduates without a license include charter school teacher, education publisher, and instructional designer.

Degree-seekers working toward licensure and a position in public school education take similar courses. However, graduation requirements include student teaching and passing one or more licensure examinations. Learners attain in-demand critical thinking, communication, and organizational skills.


Many master's in education programs appeal to licensed educators desiring an administrative position, such as vice principal or principal. Universities may offer concentrations in educational leadership, instructional design, and curriculum and instruction.

Other master's in education programs enroll nontraditional students with a bachelor's degree in a subject other than education. These licensure programs require the same student teaching experience as many bachelor's in education degrees. Graduates apply for an initial teaching license.


A doctorate in education helps experienced K-12 educators qualify for a teaching position at a college or university. Other potential teaching careers include school superintendent, college president, and executive director. These job opportunities may require a doctorate and significant experience in the education field.

Coursework at the doctoral level varies by concentration. Learners concentrating in community college leadership take courses in leading the future of education, critical issues in community college education, and transformational leadership for institutional effectiveness.

An education degree's cost depends on whether students enroll in a public or private school. Public colleges and universities charge in-state students the most affordable tuition rate. These schools may also disqualify out-of-state learners from some financial aid opportunities, such as state-funded grants and scholarships. Typical private schools cost more, but all degree-seekers pay the same rate.

Preparing for a teaching career by learning offline offers many financial benefits, such as not paying for on-campus housing or a meal plan. Online students enjoy additional savings by not commuting to campus or relocating to attend school. Prospective degree-seekers with small children should consider online education, as it may eliminate the need for costly childcare services.

School and program fees vary by school. Students working toward licensure pay for personal liability insurance from the National Education Association or another agency. Colleges and universities require this insurance to protect learners during student teaching.

How Much Do Education Majors Make?

Median Salary

Preschool teachers with an associate degree earn a median $31,930 annual salary, approximately $10,000 less than what the typical U.S. worker earns. Careers requiring a bachelor's degree and licensure, such as middle school teacher, pay significantly more.

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Lucrative jobs in education require a graduate degree. The typical K-12 principal earns nearly $100,000 annually. Other careers that include instructional coordination and school counseling also pay well. Postsecondary teachers possessing a doctorate make over $80,000. Please keep in mind that factors outside education level affect salary, such as geographic location. Open positions in a large metropolitan area may offer a higher salary to offset the cost of living.

Other Ways to Increase Salary

Professionals increase their salary potential in ways other than furthering their education. Gaining relevant experience, earning board certification, and changing employers may lead to a raise.

Licensure for Teaching

Many teaching careers require a state-issued license. Typical requirements include possessing a bachelor's degree, completing a state-approved teacher-preparation program, and passing a criminal background check. Applying for and renewing a license involves paying a fee to a state's board of education. Speak with a career counselor to learn more about unique licensure requirements and fees.

Resources for Education Majors


K12JOBSPOT provides members with information regarding more than 13,000 school districts throughout the United States. This information allows educators-in-training to narrow down potential employers and apply to jobs easily.

NASET Career Center

Students training for a career in special education use the NASET Career Center to research employers, determine licensure requirements, and review special education career advice. Other resources cover the latest salary information by state.


SchoolSpring offers users more than 90,000 open positions and helps them manage application documents, connect with employers, and post their resume to multiple job sites simultaneously. Visitors create a free profile to access these and other services.

Portrait of Thomas Broderick

Thomas Broderick

Thomas Broderick is a freelance writer and the owner of Broderick Writer LLC. He creates study guides, informational websites, and blog posts for clients in the education field. Thomas is also a published author of over 20 short stories and a member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America.

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