How To Pick The Right Career Path

You’ve made it! You just earned your degree in education, and you’ve finished a significant milestone in life. Now that you’re off to a new chapter, it’s understandable to feel a mix of emotions. You’re probably thrilled to get started on your new profession. Or you can still be confused and without any definite idea of the right career path to take. 

Having a bachelor’s degree in education doesn’t limit opportunities to just the teaching field. There are several other career paths and jobs you can partake with such a qualification. But as mentioned, it can get confusing or daunting at best.

If you’re feeling this way, no worries because it happens. You might just be needing a little push and more information on the different options you have when it comes to jumpstarting your career.

Choosing The Right Career Path 

As a fresh graduate, you may think you can’t be choosy when it comes to your first job. After all, many others like you are hunting the same role and may even have better qualifications and skills. Most education graduates choose to settle and become an educator as a way to start their career path.

If you’re thinking of doing the same, it’s fine. But as you go about it, you’ll discover that there’s more to an education degree than just teaching.

Sometimes, there’s no exact way of telling which career path is the right one to take. What works for others may not work too well for you and vice versa. It all boils down to what you feel is the right decision for your career.  

You’ll find below several tips you may find helpful as you try to determine the right path for your professional growth.

1. Define Your Career Goals

A few years ago, your goal was probably to finish your bachelor’s degree. Now that you’ve attained it, it doesn’t mean you should stop there and resign from having a goal in life. Defining your professional objectives could greatly help pick the right career path for you, especially if you feel stuck in a position where it’s hard to decide. 

Start by reflecting on yourself and asking specific questions about what you want moving forward. What do you want from your career? Do you plan on being a teacher for years? How long will it take before you advance to the next level, and what kind of advancement will that be? Will you be aiming for a promotion?

From there, you’ll most likely get a clearer insight into what and how you see yourself years from now. If you’re yearning for advancement or promotion, start thinking of ways to achieve such a goal as early as now.

Taking a master’s degree could be extremely helpful in equipping you with the right skills to get promoted in due time. A special education degree, for instance, can be your ticket to becoming a social worker or anything that has to do with working with people with disabilities.

2. Consider Your Personality Type

Certain jobs would require specific personality types, especially if you plan on working with children or people with special needs. For example, you may be thinking of teaching kindergarten students. If so, you should consider if your personality type is recommended for such a kind of profession.

Do you like being around kids? Are you a playful and cheerful person? Or are you more of a strict, disciplined, and serious type? Of course, it’s better to be around children when you can relate to them, and you don’t mind being cheerful around them. A happy disposition could influence how you’ll be educating and helping the kids.

If you prefer working in an office setting rather than a classroom, perhaps a role in public offices or non-government organizations could work better for you. You can be a school social worker, counsellor, community education officer, education consultant, or education administrator. 

3. List Down All The Job Opportunities You Can Explore

As mentioned, education graduates aren’t limited to just teaching jobs. There are several other opportunities you can explore depending on your skillset and qualifications. At this point, you’re probably presented with several available positions, but you can’t quite put a finger yet to the one you find most lucrative.

Listing down all the opportunities available at your disposal can greatly help in narrowing down your options. After you’ve assessed your personality type and your career goals, you’re off to choosing the career that’ll make you start somewhere.

Some alternative fields you can explore using your education degree are the following:

  • Childcare 
  • Private tutoring 
  • Writing/publishing 
  • Education research 
  • Museum education 
  • Play therapy 
  • Family support work 
  • Library administration 
  • Human resource 

The career paths in education can be highly diverse, and it’s up to you to pick the right one for you. You should also expect that each alternative field may require additional qualifications, skills, or training, but that should be easy to accomplish given your degree in education.

4. Narrow Down Your Choices 

When you’re done listing all possible careers in education you can take on, the next step is to narrow it down to make the selection more accessible and effective for you. What you can do to shortlist your choices is to do extensive research about each position or role that you have on the list.

You can find out more about the job descriptions and requirements needed for each profession. Do you have what it takes to be in the childcare field? What are other licenses or training you should take to qualify? Can you write, or do you know how to become a publisher? Asking questions like these can significantly help eliminate most options that you think wouldn’t be suitable for you. Ideally, ending up with two to five options in your list should be a good start in narrowing it down.

5. Consider The Earning Possibility 

Of course, another factor to think about is the potential for earning. If you’re looking for a job that pays well, you should start researching which positions or fields offer a better salary. Do teachers in private schools get paid more than what public school educators receive? If you have friends or family in the same field, you can ask them to have a better insight into the topic. 

While there are teachers who might be looking to earn more, some are more dedicated to finding a job that can teach them more skills and upgrade their expertise. They also mostly want to make a difference by helping students learn and grow. Whichever the case may be for you, doing your research can go a long way in making sure you’re headed for the right career path.  

If you’re leaning towards some of the high-paying jobs in the education sector, some of the career choices you may consider include being a school principal, chief academic officer, assistant principal, instructional coordinator, college professor, special education teacher, secondary school teacher, and librarian.

Advancement Opportunities 

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It’s expected for professionals in different fields to aim for career advancement, often called ‘climbing the ladder.’ This means progressing through different advancement levels while also embracing opportunities for growth. As an educator, you’ll find that the trajectory for your career isn’t quite as precise as other fields would have it because there are several branches you can set your heart and eyes on when you’re ready. 

Depending on the expertise and experience you’ve gained after a considerable amount of time being a teacher, you can consider different advancement opportunities such as the following: 

Department Head

Suppose you’ve been teaching for years in your school or department. If so, you may already be qualified for advancement or promotion as a department head. The role mainly involves working with the administration and other teachers as you serve to be a liaison officer for your department. Additionally, you may also be responsible for facilitating meetings and other tasks required of your new position. 

Depending on the school or organization you’re working for, the qualifications may differ if you plan on advancing as a department head. They may ask for additional certification or training that directly tackles the responsibilities of the said position.

Ideally, you should exhibit a strong command of the subjects you’re teaching, primarily if those are related to the department you’re planning to apply for. Strong leadership qualities and relative experience may also be asked. 

College Professor 

Perhaps you plan on not staying as a primary or secondary school teacher for long. If so, you may want to consider taking the career path of becoming a college professor. The collegiate level is basically similar to being a teacher in the lower levels, but it’s more subject-specific, and you’ll be expected to work with adults and college students.  

You may be asked to teach multiple courses or subjects. For instance, if you’re a math teacher, you can be assigned to different fields such as calculus, linear algebra, or statistics. At a minimum, you need to have a master’s degree to be a college professor, although some institutions prefer professionals with a doctorate. 

Specialist Roles 

Specialist roles mean staying in the education field, but this time, you’ll have specific duties designed to provide support to students and teachers alike. Different institutions would open roles and vacancies in specialist roles depending on their needs and curriculum.  

One of the most common roles you may come across is the literacy specialist, which will be responsible for providing in-depth knowledge and expertise of learning and teaching literacy. Your practice focuses mainly on issues that readers are struggling with so you may be able to help them overcome their struggles and challenges. 

School Principal

Aside from being a department head, another administrative position you can advance to as an educator is being the school principal. It’s often the role that most teachers seek when they’re starting to feel the desire to deviate from the classroom environment.  

Whether it’s for an elementary or high school, your tasks as a principal would primarily include supporting the staff and faculty so that your school’s academic vision may come to life. Being a principal is a critical role as you’ll also be responsible for cultivating the culture of your organization. You may have a vice principal or assistant to help you carry out the rest of your tasks and duties.

Most of the time, principals come from a successful and extensive teaching experience. Other requirements include an advanced degree such as a master’s and a principal certification. 

Counselor

Being a counsellor can be a good way to reach out to people and help them identify what they’re going through. You can be a part of their reflection in life and how they can possibly use that to consider other alternatives and possibilities. Your main responsibility will involve actively listening to your clients. You are to offer them your time, respect, and empathy so they can be comfortable talking about their problems and issues.

A range of things can come up when talking to clients. Most commonly, you’ll be discussing general anxiety, bereavement, difficulties in their marital relationships, uncertainty on a lot of things, particularly their job and career choices, illnesses, financial problems, and others. Your role is to be impartial so you can provide a confidential and safe environment for your clients.

As a counsellor, you’re not expected to give advice. Instead, you’re there to listen and support them in exploring their choices and options in life. In some cases, you may need to challenge or disagree with their beliefs so they can be encouraged to look at things from a different perspective.

As such, you’re not required to undergo any compulsory training to be a counsellor. However, employers prefer applicants who possess professional training to guarantee qualifications and skills that can greatly help in fulfilling the job.

Typical Employers

Unless you plan on going freelance after earning your education degree, you’ll most likely end up with an employer to work for. If you decide to teach in a state-maintained school, the local authority or government unit would be your direct employer. Working directly for a college or university means you’ll be employed by the institution itself.

Other typical employers, you’ll come across include social services, museums, probation services, police departments, central government departments, voluntary organizations, and community groups. The good thing about your degree is you can either go for the private or public sector. The opportunities are endless, and it’s up to you to decide which type of employer you want to have.

The Right Career Path Isn’t Always A Straight One 

As you go about exploring your career as an educator, you’ll realize that the right career path isn’t always a straight one. You’re always allowed to change your mind and start again if you feel like you’re not headed in the right direction. The key is finding your passion and letting it lead you to where you’re supposed to be. 

It may be better to set your goals early on, but it doesn’t mean those goals are set for life. You may teach for several years, realize somewhere in the middle that you’re not totally cut for it, and decide to head for another path.

That’s okay, and it’s understandable. It’s for this exact reason that it’s recommended to have a list of job opportunities available within your reach. That way, you know what other options you have, and a do-over is allowed any time you want to. 

A backup plan is also recommended so you’re ready in case you decide to change the path you’re on. Your plan could be something as simple as switching to private tutoring or becoming an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher online. Or it could be as extensive as taking a master’s degree or a doctorate so you’re ready for anything that may come your way.

Conclusion 

As an education graduate, you can see that there are more than enough career choices to ponder on. It’s indeed a lucrative profession that can introduce you to many other alternatives, advancements, and progression. The key is just to know what you want, where you think you can prosper, and what can make you excited and passionate about your work. 

If you’re after career advancement, getting a master’s degree or a doctorate is your best bet. You can become more accomplished as an educator by honing your skills and qualifications so that you may qualify for a promotion or when applying for a higher position in your field. You can become a school principal, counsellor, or department head where you no longer need to teach full-time or be in a classroom setting.

Whether you decide to be a primary teacher, a college professor, a social worker, or a private tutor, remembering these tips could go a long way in making the right career choice. What you have in your hands is a critical instrument that can help shape the future and lives of your students and other professionals you’ll be working with.  

Cadie Morgan

Cadie Morgan works for a non-government organization focusing on special education and career advancements. She writes blogs and conducts webinars about education and work opportunities. She also offers private tutoring services for people with learning disabilities. On her free time, she watches movies, tends to her indoor plants, and takes landscape photos.

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