A Guide to Education Job Titles and Getting Hired
Currently, there is a severe shortage of teachers and other school site personnel. A job in education can be an extremely rewarding career. However, figuring out how to become a teacher and landing your dream job can be overwhelming. Furthermore, there are many different types of jobs, and job titles at a school site beyond a classroom teacher. If you are interested in making a positive impact on student learning, this article takes a look at various job titles, and tips for how to get hired in the education industry. It also has content for potential job seekers to help them learn more about specific jobs in education and what schools are looking for.
General Types of Teaching Jobs & Qualifications
There are many different types of teaching jobs available, from early childhood education to high school and beyond. Generally speaking, each state will have their own requirements for different positions in education. These requirements are also different internationally. We could write an entire book on the different requirements for educators based on the different regions in the world. The main point here is that each type of teaching job, in each specific region (whether state or country) has its own set of requirements. It’s important to do your research before applying for any position. While there are many different types of jobs in education, we can generally divide jobs in education into three categories: early childhood, elementary, and secondary (middle and high school).
For decades, early childhood education has been referred to as transitional kindergarten (TK), and has been largely run by private entities. However, as of 2022, many districts are now incorporating TK into their elementary school systems. Some states, such as California, are moving towards making TK mandatory in all public school districts within the next few years. Early childhood education teaching jobs, prior to these changes (and still so in many areas), typically require several college units in early childhood education. While you generally do not need a bachelor’s degree, having these units completed is typically required. Most community colleges and other universities will list these requirements on their website.
With the current trend to incorporate TK into the elementary, it would be necessary to be a fully credentialed teacher to teach early childhood education. This may be the standard moving forward.
Elementary teaching jobs usually require a bachelor’s degree and a multiple-subject teaching credential. While it does not matter what your degree is in, there are specific education classes you will need to take in order to be considered eligible for credentialing. In rare cases, you can step into a classroom with an emergency teaching credential prior to being fully qualified. You can check with each district to see if they have an emergency credential program. Every state will have specific licensure requirements for elementary school teachers, so you should visit your specific state’s commission on teacher credentialing websites. Beyond having your bachelors degree, you will typically also have to show proof of passing subject matter tests as well as tests geared towards testing your understanding of how to work with English Language Learners (ELLs).
Middle school is interesting in that the requirements for teaching often depend on the subject. If you are teaching a math or science subject, you likely will be required to have a math or science single-subject teaching credential. Single subject teaching credentials are more specific to the subject and require either a degree in the subject or additional classes related to teaching the subject. However, if you are teaching English and social studies, you can typically still do so with a multiple-subject teaching credential. In any case, a single-subject teaching credential can always be added as an authorization to a multiple-subject teaching credential.
At the high school level, it is common to require a single subject teaching credential for the subject you want to teacher, whether it is English, P.E., or visual and performing arts.
It is important to note that at all three levels, if you wish to teach special education, then you will be required to show proof of specific special education teaching credentials. These credentials can be obtained through most teacher preparation programs at most colleges and universities. Special education teachers are in extreme demand and typically receive additional bonuses and stipends. Many districts will also pay their staff to return to school to get their special education credentials. Whether a current staff member in a district or somebody who is looking to get into education, you should check district websites to see if they offer any paid credentialing options. If you went this route, you would usually be required to teach in that district for a specified amount of time before you could move to another position or district.
What Kinds of Jobs Are There in Education?
There are many different types of jobs in education, from teaching in a classroom to working as a school administrator. There are also many support roles in education, such as working as a school counselor or librarian. Here are some of the most common job titles in education:
Classroom teachers work with students of all ages, from kindergarten/TK to high school. They plan lessons, teach classes, and assess student progress. This is a very basic snapshot of what they do, however. To fully understand the extent of the work of a classroom teacher, it is recommended to ask a teacher.
School administrators are responsible for the overall management of a school. They may work as principals, assistant principals, activity or athletic directors, or other positions. Each district defines school administrators slightly differently. The vast majority of school administrators have been classroom teachers in the past. However, it is also somewhat common to see school administrators who have been counselors.
School administrators require additional licensing. You can become qualified through college and university programs. In addition, many county of education entities offer administrator preparation programs.
Academic coaches work closely with classroom teachers. It is rare to see an academic coach who was not a classroom teacher previously. In fact, most academic coaches get thrust into this role because they were very effective teachers and they were asked to support other teachers in classroom instruction. Academic coaches can be located at the site they serve, or centrally located at the district office. These positions typically do not require an administrative credential, but a good amount of academic coaches are aspiring administrators.
Intervention specialists are credentialed teachers who work with students at the school site who have been identified as needing extra support. An intervention specialist will typically have their own classroom where they pull small groups of students each day to target data-identified concerns in math or English. These students are not students who have legally identified services through an IEP (Individualized Education Program), such as RSP (Resource Specialist Program). Rather, intervention specialists work closely with classroom teachers to pull students for a set period, and then discontinue services once the student has shown proficiency in the identified knowledge gaps.
A resource specialist is a special education teacher who provides pull-out and push-in services to students with an IEP. They are a certificated teacher. RSP (Resource Specialist Program) teachers usually have their own classroom to conduct services in. You must have your special education credential to be a RSP teacher.
School psychologists are also part of the school’s special education team. A school psychologist will, in most cases, work closely with all the special education teachers to ensure all IEPs are being held within the legal timelines. Psychologists support by doing assessments to determine if a student might qualify for special education services. They can also provide counseling services as needed. School psychologists have a higher level of training and licensing than the general school counselor.
Special Education Teacher
Within the umbrella of special education, there are many different types of positions. For example, Special Day Classes (SDC) are classes where you generally have a smaller number of students who have been identified with specific behavioral and learning needs. Regardless of what type of special education teaching assignment you take, you will be required to have a special education credential. The credentials for special education can be divided into mild, moderate, and moderate-severe. Before considering which type of position you would like, it is important to speak to any potential districts about which type of credential they require.
Instructional Associates (IAs) support special education teachers. However, they themselves are not licensed teachers. Instead, they are classified staff (not part of the teacher union and on a different pay scale). IAs can be general and support a class, such as an SDC IA or a TK IA. In addition, an IA can be more specific as a 1:1 aide who sits with students throughout the day, no matter where they go. In many districts, you do need a bachelors degree to be an IA. Many districts also offer to pay for special education credentialing for their IAs.
School counselors help students with academic and personal issues. They may work in elementary, middle, or high schools. Each school site and district might use their counselors in different ways. While a lot of the work for an elementary and middle school counselor may focus on social-emotional support, many high school counselors are academic counselors focused on A-G requirements for graduation.
Within the counseling umbrella, there are many different types of counselors a school may use. Often, schools contract with outside agencies to provide counseling. These contractors typically earn more than what the district would pay. You can be hired as a counselor through an agency, and still be placed at a school site on a daily basis. Some common types of counselors that supplement academic counselors are mental health counselors and crisis counselors.
In order to be a counselor, the most basic certification you must have is your Pupil Services credential (PPS). Again, most colleges and universities have programs that you can enroll in. You will be required to do a significant amount of on-site work to achieve enough hours to apply for your PPS credential. Mental health and crisis counselors, as well as school psychologists, most likely have further credentialing and licenses to provide the additional services they do.
Librarians manage libraries and help people find information. They often sit on school site councils and other committees and are important for community interaction. There has been a modern push to change our school libraries to Maker Spaces or STEAM labs. As a librarian, you may also be responsible for overseeing these areas.
Custodial and Maintenance
Custodial staff support keeping the classes and common areas clean and organized. Larger schools will also have on-site maintenance crews who work closely with custodians, but whose main responsibilities are more geared toward maintaining and fixing things at the school. For smaller schools, these maintenance positions will be centrally located at the district. You generally do not need any degree or licensure for these positions.
Within the office itself, there are several different positions. Most schools will have a general secretary as well as a separate attendance clerk. Depending on the size of the school, there may be several of each. It is also common to have a community liaison in the office, especially if your school is in an area where there are a high number of ELLs. You generally do not need any degree or licensure for these positions.
It is common for schools at the secondary level to have campus supervisors. Campus supervisors are classified staff who, generally speaking, keep the campus safe and secure. They work closely with both the front office, administration, and teachers to anticipate school and students issues, and to respond to issues as they arise. You generally do not need any degree or licensure for these positions.
You can also be involved at the school site through coaching. Coaches are typically paid with a stipend for a season and are not hourly employees. In most schools and districts, certificated staff (licensed teachers who are part of the teacher union) must get the first opportunities to coach when there are open vacancies. Many teachers and other school personnel do coach after the school day ends. However, you can also coach as a community member if there is a vacant position that is not filled by school-site staff. You generally do not need any degree or licensure for these positions.
Tips and Tricks to Get Hired for an Education Job
There are many great job boards for education, such as enrichingedjobs.com. If you’re looking for a job in education, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of getting hired. First, make sure your resume is up-to-date and error-free. Education employers will be looking for specific experience and qualifications, so tailor your resume to the jobs you’re applying for.
Here are a few tips for writing a great resume for jobs in education:
1. Highlight Your Teaching Experience
If you have teaching experience, be sure to highlight it on your resume. Include information about the age group of students you taught, the subjects you taught, and any specialties or areas of expertise you have.
2. Showcase Your Educational Background
If you have a degree in education or a related field, be sure to prominently display this information on your resume. Employers will want to see that you have the necessary educational background for the job.
3. Emphasize Your Communication Skills
Communication is key in any teaching position. Be sure to highlight any experience you have with public speaking, leading classroom discussions, or working with students one-on-one.
4. Highlight Your Organizational Skills
Organizational skills are also important for teachers. Be sure to include information about any experience you have with creating lesson plans, organizing materials, or keeping track of student progress.
Next, research the school or district you’re applying to and make sure you understand their mission and values. When you’re interviewing, be prepared to talk about how your skills and experiences align with what the school is looking for. Finally, don’t forget to follow up after your interview with a thank-you note or email.
By following these tips, you’ll make a great impression on potential employers and increase your chances of getting hired in education.
How to Prepare for an Interview
When it comes to interviews, good preparation is essential. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for your next education interview:
1. Do Your Research
Be familiar with the school district, the position you’re interviewing for, and the interviewer themselves. This will help you ask more informed questions and tailor your responses to what they’re looking for.
2. Know Your Stuff
Be prepared to talk about your experience, education, and qualifications in detail. Have specific examples ready to share of your work in the classroom or with students. If you don’t know something, don’t pretend you do. You will be in a room with very experienced educators. Rather, tell them that is an area you are interested in growing more in. You will send the message that you are a reflective practitioner who is always willing to learn.
3. Be Positive and Enthusiastic
Education is a people business – they want to see that you have a positive attitude and are passionate about working with students.
4. Ask Questions
Show that you’re interested in the position and the district by asking thoughtful questions about their programs, initiatives, and challenges.
Cover Letter Dos and Don’ts
There are a few key things to keep in mind when crafting your cover letter for a position in education. First, be sure to tailor your letter to the specific position you are applying for. Generic letters will not make a good impression, at all.
Second, focus on your strengths and how they align with the job requirements. Again, be specific.
Third, don’t forget to proofread! A well-written and error-free cover letter will go a long way in getting you hired. After all, you are applying to be a teacher or school support personnel!
Education is a fascinating field where you can use your creativity to positively impact student learning. While it can be confusing as to the different licenses and requirements for the various positions, with a little foundational understanding and some quick research based on your region, you can easily figure this part out. Remember that even within specific regions, different districts operate slightly differently. Some positions, such as an activity director role, may or may not require an administrative credential. You can find important information through your specific state’s commission on teacher credentialing website, through your college or university website, and through various district websites. Whichever choice you make, you are about to enter into an exciting and rewarding profession. We hope you find the best education job for you!