The Careers in Education You May Not Know Much About

March 11, 2018

A wide variety of people work together to keep the education system in this country going each day. Of course, many of those positions are held by teachers—and by the expected supporting roles of principals, counselors, and administrative staff—but several of the education system’s crucial positions are not quite as familiar to the average person. What are they?

For those who are considering a transition out of teaching (and who want to stick around in education) or who are interested in working in education but want to learn about roles outside of the head of the classroom, read on for a few of the careers in education you may not have heard as much about.

1. Education Policy Analyst

If you’re interested in considering the 30,000-foot view of education and how it might be changed from that level, this may be the role for you. Education policy analysts are typically employed by government agencies or connected organizations, such as lobbyists and think tanks, to make changes to the education system through policy. These are the folks wrestling with the big questions, such as how to address inequity in education, increase teacher salaries and retention, improve academic outcomes, and boost funding.

Any type of policy analyst should have a knack for conducting independent research and clearly communicating and synthesizing the results. This professional is typically required to hold either a master’s degree or a PhD.

2. Ed-tech executive or employee

More and more stories are emerging about former teachers taking the plunge into the world of education technology, or “ed tech.” Some of them are designing the sorts of apps they wish had been available to them as teachers and refashioning themselves as tech company CEOs; others are selling such products. As tech plays an increasingly larger role in the classroom, more former teachers will be needed to develop, consult on, and talk to teachers about the teaching technology of the future.

As is the case with the rest of Silicon Valley and the tech industry, specific education credentials are typically not as important as experience, big ideas, and software development know-how.

3. Lead teacher

Though most people are aware that teachers regularly attend career development seminars, conferences, and other events tailored to improving their skills in the classroom, far fewer consider the details of what it takes to become one of the trainers facilitating such events. But such people are not only necessary in our education system—they’re devoted to constantly making it better.

Lead teachers work with new teachers or those brushing up their skills to engage them in the newest research and innovative classroom techniques. Some certificate programs focus specifically on training education experts for this role.

4. Instructional coordinator

Instructional coordinators are tasked with developing school curricula and teaching standards. They work for local governments, in professional schools, or within schools themselves. A master’s degree tends to also be necessary for this role, but it’s likely to be a good investment, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that instructional coordinators will see demand for their services increase by 10 percent between 2016 and 2026, and their median annual salary is about $62,000.

People who are interested in making a difference by entering the field of education should keep in mind that there’s no need to limit their sights to the role of teacher or school administrator. There’s a role within education to match almost any set of skills and interests, and if you’re willing to look, you will find the right one for you.