When choosing a university major, there are a lot of options. One of them is a career in education. But, is becoming a teacher all I can do with a degree in education? Which career pathways can someone follow with such a degree? This article explores new trends in education careers, their challenges, and their opportunities.
Besides its relevance, education as a career tends to be perceived as a career fully oriented to teaching in classrooms. And education, as an interdisciplinary field, has many different professional pathways. Different professionals playing different roles make it possible to reach diverse targets of students and types of education worldwide.
Education Roles in Schools and Classroom
Of course, the heart of formal education is schooling. So, the most known roles for education professionals are visible in schools. With a degree in education, professionals can perform roles such as:
- Teacher and teaching assistance: Teachers are the brave frontline workers of education. They are responsible for planning, facilitating, assessing, and reporting the learning process with each and all students, as well as keeping fluent communication with them and with their caretakers. While working in education, teachers and teacher assistants develop strong interpersonal and leadership skills, as well as the opportunity to make a positive impact in the life of children, teenagers, or adults.
- Academic coordinator: But the impact of teachers and assistants cannot be possible without an adequate link between the national curricula, the pedagogical innovations and trends, and the effective articulation of contents and strategies to ensure the learning outcomes are achieved. And this is when academic coordinators come on the scene. They are responsible for leading teachers, ensuring their lessons are aligned with the education curricula, as well as supporting them in any challenges that may arise in their implementation. Academic coordinators have strong leadership skills, orientation to detail, state-of-the-art knowledge about educational trends in specific subjects, and be well informed about Ministries of Education’s updates.
- Teacher-coach: There are also professionals who, after experiencing roles as teachers or coordinators, put efforts into providing individual or group support to teachers and helping them maximize the learning outcomes of their students. Teacher-coaches can work either as part of the school staff or as part of NGOs dedicated to pedagogical support. They visit classrooms and meet with teachers to provide feedback about positive pedagogical practice and advice on improvement areas. In this role, coaches develop assertive communication, strong observational skills, management, and team-building abilities.
- School principals: Of course, schools need well-prepared leaders that help teachers and administrative staff work together to help students reach their potential. School principals are experienced professionals—usually with Master’s degrees and years of teaching experience—who manage and lead the institutions. Besides good interpersonal and leadership skills, principals must ensure their teams are aligned to the institutional vision and goals, and make decisions to improve the quality of education provided by the center.
Careers in Education Outside of Schools
But outside of schools, there are other opportunities to support education. Some of these:
- Trainers or facilitators: An older article explored, that education is not only limited to formal learning. Non-formal education can also be an interesting career path. In this regard, the role of teachers relies now on the trainers or facilitators. These professionals are responsible for planning, facilitating, assessing, and reporting the learning experiences and outcomes of participants of non-formal learning experiences, which include: training courses, boot camps, summer institutes, virtual courses, and others that do not result in obtaining a degree.
- Project managers: There are also different projects and programs offered by NGOs or other institutions, which address educational or development issues: humanitarian and inclusive education, gender equality, interdisciplinary programs, capacity-building, life skills development, and others. Usually sponsored by national or international donors, projects need experienced professionals to lead the interventions and ensure their implementation and success, doing no harm to communities and ensuring a positive impact on them. Project managers are responsible for this.
- Instructional designers: Learning experiences also need to be planned if learning outcomes are expected to be assessed. So instructional designers are responsible for this, and for identifying the needs and interests of the potential participants, as well as developing a contextualized curriculum addressing these needs and wants.
Research and Consultancy Path in Education
With a certain level of experience and advanced studies, educators can also perform other roles related to research or consultancy, such as:
- Researchers: Finding new knowledge about pedagogy, classroom practices, and education, in general, is crucial because it feeds all the efforts happening at schools. Researchers are professionals with deep analytical skills and experience with qualitative research methods and apply them in the study of specific topics in the field. Usually, these professionals need a Ph.D. degree or extensive experience in research. They can work either at think tanks, NGOs, regional or multilateral organizations, government offices, or universities.
- University professors: Teaching at universities is an interesting and very competitive professional path. They are responsible for the education of new professionals in specific or interdisciplinary fields. To be a university professor, a Ph.D. and a series of research papers and publication is required. Although becoming a full-time professor takes years, it is possible to achieve with strong preparation and experience.
- Consultants: These professionals are usually independent and offer their services to individuals and organizations to develop a specific work requested. Their work will depend strongly on what is defined in the terms of reference—which is a document that brings all the details about the project or service requested by the customer—and also on the experience of the consultant. Consultants are experienced professionals with at least a Master’s degree and a strong knowledge of their particular field. They can either create a consultancy firm, join one as a member, or can apply to different terms of references that national or international NGOs, government institutions, and international and multilateral organizations open from time to time, based on their organizational needs.
As explored in this article, the career path of a professional with a degree in education is diverse. All of the options are important for improving quality and evolution over time. To ensure that education actually helps people improve their quality of life and embrace an active role in the transformation of society, professionals with degrees in education are in high need. But remember that, besides earning a university degree, it is important to build a career and earn experiences to help you fit in the roles you aim to pursue.
Photo: Ground Picture/Shutterstock
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