Career Options in Education

Regardless of your current career stage, these steps may help you succeed faster.

Part-time or Volunteer Work
As an undergraduate, use summer jobs to work with youth the ages you want to teach and/or volunteer with youth organizations. If you are seeking to re-enter teaching or transition into teaching from another career, it is vital to get experience working with youth the ages you want to teach. You can do that through part-time jobs and volunteering, which also is good for teachers who are retired, want to work part-time, or want to consider non-school work.

Summer or Part-Time Job Ideas
  • YMCA – childcare, camps, and a variety of lessons – both paid workers and volunteers
  • Schools – paraprofessional, library helper, or school bus monitor
  • Daycare centers – summer programs for school-aged children.
  • Camps – scouts, 4-H, and other youth organizations
  • Public library – summer programs with all ages, other library programs
  • Private tutor or nanny, letting schools know that you are available
  • 25 best jobs for teachers – not all education-oriented, but worth considering
  •, searching for “Summer Education Jobs” or “Summer Education Internships”
  • Museums, outdoor education centers, and parks – summer help and throughout the year with programming – education majors always desired
  • Substitute teacher (in a variety of settings) – demonstrates your flexibility, willingness to do what is necessary
  • Literacy tutoring organizations – certified teachers for training volunteers and leading programs
  • Corporations – training or writing manuals

Volunteer Position Ideas
  • Teach a children’s program in your place of worship, including Vacation Bible School, Awana, Pioneer Girls and Boys, Parents Day Out, and other programs.
  • Volunteer for a church- or community-based English as a Second Language program.
  • Volunteer with organizations that provide free tutoring for low-income students, homeless students, or as part of after-school programs.
  • Public libraries have story times and love extra help. Adolescent areas of a public library may need someone to help students find materials.
  • Museums, parks, and outdoor education centers love volunteers. Tell them you want to work with children and specify an age group if you have one in mind.
  • If you have skills or knowledge to help local Girl or Boy Scout troops with badge-winning content, this is a great way to work with students.
  • Schools welcome volunteers to work with individuals who are struggling. If they know you are an education major seeking experience, you are more likely to work within a classroom or with a small group of students.
  • Literacy programs are wonderful ways to hone your skills.

No Teaching Job, But School Has Started
Many new teachers are hired after the start of a school year for a variety of reasons (e.g., more students than anticipated in a grade level, teacher whose spouse is being transferred, maternity leave, etc.).

  • Call schools where you applied. Ask if all positions have been filled or if you might be hearing from them soon.
  • Visit school sites for new job listings. Schools or districts may require you apply for each individual job listing.
  • Decide where you most want to teach and introduce yourself to the office staff. Ask about part-time positions (library aide, playground monitor) for which you could apply. These will pay and give you experience working with the kids. This will also help them become familiar with you and give you opportunities to meet the teachers and principal. Express your interest in teaching there.
  • Offer tutoring should a parent request it for their child.
  • Apply at charter or faith-based schools. Apply to online schools.
  • Look for part-time jobs and volunteer positions to get experience.

Not Able to Get Into the School You Want
You finally landed a job, but it isn’t your dream job. Don’t wait to start the application process again for the school you want.

  • If you are presently teaching, have someone videotape you teaching, working with students in small groups, and in other situations.
  • Add an introduction to each video (after editing) and a reflection at the end.
  • Share videos with your résumé and cover letter (or e-portfolio), three recent letters of recommendation, your philosophy of education, and lesson plans you were teaching.
  • Use a letter to introduce yourself and why you want the principal to watch the videos. Triple check spelling and grammar; misspellings or poor grammar are deal breakers.
  • Hand-deliver materials to the school and ask that the principal sees it.
  • Follow up with a call to the school and ask for the principal. If you can’t speak with him or her, leave a voice message.

Whatever happens, do the very best you can where you are. You need good evaluations and evidence. Also, ask your present colleagues for letters of recommendation.

Want to be a Teacher Leader or Administrator
There are many ways to become a teacher leader. Most schools have team leaders and, it is often a position you apply for within the school. Many buildings have their own professional development. If you feel like you have something other teachers need to know, offer to present it at a faculty meeting or staff training time. Get ideas from The Power of Teacher Leaders.

Becoming a principal, assistant principal, or curriculum director usually requires more education. This varies by state, so check your state requirements. Read Further Requirements for Administrators. And see your state’s department of education website. To learn more about becoming an administrator, see Administration.

Considering Further Education If you are considering a Master’s or Doctorate, see Considering Grad School.

Community colleges often hire adjunct faculty with a master’s degree, but to teach in a 4-year college usually requires a doctorate. Get more information at Securing a Teaching Position at the Post-Secondary Level.