Written by Jill Hare, Editor of TheApple
Over 3 million people call themselves educators in the U.S. today. In the next few years, hundreds of thousands of teachers will be retiring, mostly from the baby boomer generation. One million educators are currently over the age of 50--almost a third of the teaching force--and the next decade will provide roughly one million vacancies for prospective educators.
Isn't the Market Saturated?
The economy was at its worst last year during hiring season for educators. Budgets were slashed and new programs were put on hold. The stimulus money has been released and school systems that played their hands conservatively are balanced and poised to hire for next school year.
Match Your Skill Set to the Market
Even in the tough climate this year, there were jobs to be had, but there may not have been openings in your location to match your specific skill set. In the past, people became teachers and followed their passions knowing that there would be vacancies in every area. My recommendation to future teachers is to feel out the market in your area. Try to match your skill set (or add to your skill set) by selecting courses that can make you marketable across a variety of education fields. If you planned on becoming an elementary teacher and there aren't any openings, take additional coursework for special education or even education leadership.
Elementary School Teachers
13% Job Increase
Roughly 209,000 New Jobs
There are currently over 1.5 million elementary school teachers not including special education. Elementary education teachers represent the largest portion of the teaching force.
Most job openings will result from the need to replace the large number of teachers who are expected to retire over the next few years. Veteran teachers may be retiring even earlier than expected, as many schools systems entice high paying veterans to retire to hire cheaper qualified teachers. Also, many beginning teachers don't stay in teaching very long. They decide to leave teaching for other careers after a year or two--especially those employed in poor, urban schools--creating additional job openings for teachers.
Highly Desirable Job Candidates:
Increasing enrollments of minorities, coupled with a shortage of minority teachers, should cause efforts to recruit minority teachers to intensify. Also, the number of non-English-speaking students will continue to grow, creating demand for bilingual teachers and for those who teach English as a second language.
A minimum of a bachelor's degree in early childhood education is required to teach. Alternative routes to teaching, certificate coursework or master's in teaching can supplement necessary qualifications.
26% Job Increase
Roughly 115,000 New Jobs
Some states are instituting programs to improve early childhood education, such as offering universal preschool. These programs, along with projected higher enrollment growth for preschool age children, will create many new jobs for preschool teachers, which are expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations.
Requirements for public preschool teachers are generally more stringent than those for private preschool teachers. Some states require a bachelor's degree in early childhood education, while others require an associate's degree, and still others require certification by a nationally recognized authority. The Child Development Associate (CDA) credential, the most common type of certification, requires a mix of classroom training and experience working with children, along with an independent assessment of the teacher's competence.
Middle School Teachers
11% Job Increase
Roughly 74,000 New Jobs
Fast-growing states in the South and West--led by Nevada, Arizona, Texas, and Georgia--will experience the largest enrollment increases. Job prospects should be better in inner cities and rural areas than in suburban districts. Many inner cities--often characterized by overcrowded, ill-equipped schools and higher-than-average poverty rates--and rural areas--characterized by their remote location and relatively low salaries--have difficulty attracting and retaining enough teachers.
Highly Desirable Job Candidates:
Teachers who are geographically mobile and who obtain licensure in more than one subject should have a distinct advantage in finding a job.
A bachelor's degree in education is highly desirable for middle school teaching candidates. Nearly all states now also offer alternative licensure programs for teachers who have a bachelor's degree in the subject they will teach, but who lack the necessary education courses required for a regular license.
Special Education Teachers
15% P-12 Job Increase
Roughly 71,000 Jobs Added
The number of special education teachers is expected to increase by 15 percent, faster than average for all occupations. Although student enrollments in general are expected to grow slowly, continued increases in the number of special education students needing services will generate a greater need for special education teachers.
Highly Desirable Job Candidates:
Although most areas of the country report difficulty finding qualified applicants, positions in inner cities and rural areas usually are more plentiful than job openings in suburban or wealthy urban areas. Student populations also are expected to increase more rapidly in certain parts of the country, such as the South and West, resulting in increased demand for special education teachers in those regions. In addition, job opportunities may be better in certain specialties--such as teachers who work with children with multiple disabilities or severe disabilities like autism--because of large increases in the enrollment of special education students classified under those categories.
Special education teachers receive a general education degree to teach kindergarten through grade 12. These teachers then train in a specialty, such as learning disabilities or behavioral disorders.
12% Job Increase
Roughly 53,000 New Jobs
The largest demand increase for administrators will be at the elementary level, needing an additional 24% of qualified applicants. Job opportunities for many of these positions should be excellent because a large proportion of education administrators are expected to retire over the next 10 years. The number of administrative positions will continue to increase as more administrative responsibilities are placed on individual schools, particularly related to monitoring student achievement.
In most public schools, principals need a master's degree in education administration or educational leadership. Some principals and central office administrators have a doctorate or specialized degree in education administration. In private schools, some principals and assistant principals hold only a bachelor's degree, but the majority have a master's or doctoral degree.
16% Job Increase
Roughly 28,000 New Jobs
Kindergarten teachers have the second fastest growing career second only to preschool teachers. It's the fastest growing grade in K-12 careers. There will be particularly good prospects for teachers in less desirable urban or rural school districts.
A minimum of a bachelor's degree in early childhood education. For non-traditional routes to teaching, certificate coursework or master's in teaching can supplement necessary qualifications.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics