Careers in Education


Educational services is the second largest industry in the United States, accounting for about 13.5 million jobs in 2008.


Teacher and student in a classroom at school

Most teaching positions, which constitute nearly half of all educational services jobs, require at least a bachelor’s degree, and some require a master’s or doctoral degree.

Education is an important part of life. The educational services industry includes a variety of institutions that offer academic, career and technical instruction, and other education and training to millions of students each year. 

Occupations in the Industry

While 67 percent of workers in educational services are employed in professional and related occupations, the industry also employs many administrative support, managerial, service, and other workers.

Teachers account for 47 percent of all workers in the industry. Their duties depend on the age group and subject they teach, as well as on the type of institution in which they work.

Teachers should have a sincere interest in helping students and should also have the ability to inspire respect, trust, and confidence. Strong speaking and writing skills, inquiring and analytical minds, and a desire to pursue and disseminate knowledge are vital prerequisites for teachers.

Teachers can specialize in various areas such as: Preschool teacher, kindergarten and elementary school, middle and secondary school, special education, vocational education, adult literacy and remedial education.

Other professional occupations in the educational industry include education administrators, instructional coordinators, counselors, librarians, teacher assistants, and athletic coaches.

Training & Advancement

The educational services industry employs some of the most highly educated workers in the labor force. About 64 percent of employees have at least a bachelor’s degree, as a bachelor’s degree is required for nearly all professional occupations in the industry.

Many professional occupations also require a master’s degree or doctorate, particularly for jobs at postsecondary institutions or in administration.

The training and qualifications required of preschool teachers vary widely. Each State has its own licensing requirements that regulate caregiver training. These requirements range from a high school diploma, to a national Child Development Associate (CDA) credential, to community college courses, or to a college degree in child development or early childhood education.

Kindergarten, elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers in public schools must have a bachelor’s degree and complete an approved teacher training program, with a prescribed number of subject and education credits, as well as supervised practice teaching.

All States require public school teachers to be licensed; however, licensure requirements vary by State. Many States offer alternative licensure programs for people who have bachelor’s degrees in the subject they will teach, but lack the education courses required for a regular license.

Certain teacher occupations require additional specific training: special education teachers need either a master’s degree in special education or some other form of specialized training in the subject, while vocational education teachers often need work experience in their field.

With additional education or certification, teachers may become school librarians, reading specialists, curriculum specialists, or guidance counselors. Some teachers advance to administrative or supervisory positions—such as instructional coordinator, assistant principal, or principal.

Postsecondary teachers who teach at 4-year colleges and universities generally must have a doctoral or other terminal degree for full-time, tenure-track employment, and usually also for part-time teaching at these institutions as well, though a master’s degree is sometimes sufficient. At 2-year colleges, however, most positions are held by teachers with master’s degrees.

School counselors are required to hold State school counseling certification; however, certification procedures vary from State to State. A master’s degree is generally required, and some States also require public school counselors to have teaching certificates and a number of years of teaching experience in addition to a counseling certificate.

Principals, assistant principals, and other school administrators in school districts usually have held a teaching or related job before entering administration, and they generally need a master’s or doctoral degree in education administration or educational supervision, as well as State teacher certification.

Librarians generally need a master’s degree in library science. Many States require school librarians to be licensed as teachers and to have taken courses in library science. Training requirements for library technicians range from a high school diploma to specialized postsecondary training.