“Where is my career path as a teacher leading me?” That’s a question you probably must have asked, at least if you are an ambitious teacher. Unlike other professionals, many teachers don’t see a clear trajectory in their careers, which can be a bit dispiriting.
Fortunately, there are plenty of teacher opportunities you can seize and purposefully drive your career forward.
To be clear, advancement opportunities don’t necessarily mean giving up your love for working with students inside the classroom. Of course, many ambitious teachers transition into a completely new education role that does not involve working directly with students. But you can still broaden your expertise as a teacher to enhance your duties while continuing your work in the classroom.
This article will show you five different advancement opportunities in the education field. As you read these teacher opportunities, think about your current strengths and what further qualifications you need to move in the direction you would want your career to go.
Five Ways Ambitious Teachers Can Advance Their Careers
1. Department Head
Experienced teachers who would like to retain their in-classroom duties while taking on leadership roles can aim for a department head position, also known as the lead teacher in some schools.
For this leadership role, many schools do not require the teacher to earn an additional degree. Instead, classroom instructors and qualified teachers can be selected to fill the position while also maintaining their teaching positions. Usually, school teachers who show strong leadership qualities are excellent candidates for this position. In some schools, individuals with a master’s degree are hired to fill the position.
Educators in this position will liaise between the school administration and school teachers to develop department policies and assessment practices. Department heads may even facilitate meetings to put together or review the school curriculum.
2. School Administrator
Ambitious educators who want to advance their careers beyond the classroom can transition into administrative roles within the school environment. If this appeals to you, the common path to take is to become a school principal or assistant principal.
These school administrative positions will typically require a master’s degree (or some other advanced degree) in addition to a few years of classroom teaching experience. Principals will also need to meet their states’ administrative licensing or certification requirements.
Administrative roles for principals involve creating academic visions and helping teachers to work toward actualizing clearly defined visions.
By building meaningful relationships between students, faculty, and even parents, a school administrator forms a thriving school community and cultivate positive school culture.
In some cases, principals can help teachers’ growth by providing resources and professional development plans to steer them in the right direction.
3. School Counselor
Another advancement opportunity for classroom teachers is to make the switch from teaching to professional roles as school counselors.
A bachelor’s degree in education, social, work, or psychology is a good springboard if you are considering this path. You will also need to earn a master’s degree in school counseling to qualify for the role of a school counselor in most states. A master’s degree in a related field may also be considered in some cases. In any case, passing your state’s school counselor exam and obtaining certification is necessary.
The primary function of school counselors is to assist students in becoming better learners and helping in their overall development. They do this by advocating social development, academic achievement, and preparing students for college or future careers.
Professionals in this capacity typically meet students in groups or one-on-one to assess and evaluate their interests and abilities. This helps the counselors identify problem areas as well as ways to improve necessary skills for a better learning experience.
4. Specialist Roles
An experienced teacher looking for a professional development opportunity can also consider specialist roles that usually involve outside classroom duties. Specialist roles can include:
- Literacy specialist: This education professional works with individual students or groups who have trouble reading to receive targeted intervention in elementary, middle, and high schools. A literacy specialist also provides support to classroom teachers. Educators looking to advance their teaching career in this direction need a few years of teaching experience in addition to graduate education.
- Trauma-sensitive role: Although trauma-sensitive education is a less known discipline, it can lead to career advancement opportunities outside the classroom. Education professionals in this aspect can serve as consultants to policymakers and publishers.
- STEAM specialist: STEAM specialists help students who need extra support in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics. These education professionals can also serve as coaches and resources to other teachers. In addition to helping both students and teachers to problem-solve across different disciplines, STEAM specialists can also be instrumental in a school’s Response to Intervention (RTI) program. In many cases, this role will require a master’s degree.
5. College Professor
Teachers in elementary, middle, and high school can take their love for working with students in the classroom to the collegiate level. For these teachers, pursuing and earning a doctorate would be ideal for becoming college professors. However, some higher education institutions will accept a master’s degree in relevant fields.
A college professor teaches several courses within a field of study. For example, you will teach linear algebra, calculus, and statistics if you are a math professor. In addition to classroom teaching, your job will involve developing standard syllabuses and collaborating with other professors to create certificate or degree programs.
Decide Your Career Direction
Remaining in a classroom teaching position or pursuing opportunities that will lead to roles outside the classroom is purely a personal decision. Regardless of where you want your career path to lead, teacher opportunities abound.
Ultimately, the surest way to advance your career is to get a high-quality education that qualifies you for the role you want. You may need to level up by earning a graduate or advanced degree. There are many education-related degree options to choose from, depending on where you want your teacher career path to lead you.