That education weathered the great recession better than many industries isn't a huge surprise. For many recently laid-off workers and frustrated job seekers, returning to school was one of the most common ways to deal with the struggling economy. With few employers hiring, job seekers suddenly had the incentive to finally finish their degrees, take some refresher courses or enroll in a new program that increases the chance of finding a job. These pupils can't achieve their goals without an educator.
Why you should consider it
Every grade -- from preschool through high school -- still needs teachers, while every university, community college, vocational school, technical college and certification program needs instructors.
The U.S. Department of Education's Teacher Shortage Areas Nationwide Listings, released each school year, breaks down which subject matters are understaffed in each state. Look at the listings and you'll see that every subject is in high demand in at least one state. For example, Connecticut needs bilingual education teachers for grades kindergarten through 12th grade in the 2010-'11 year. Yet, Kansas' most significant shortages exist in special education fields, such as occupational therapy and education for the visually impaired. In other words, educators in every specialization are in demand throughout the country.
Who is suited for the role
Jobs in education aren't for everyone. Standing in front of a classroom of students, whether they're 5 years old or baby boomers, can be intimidating. And the cliche that says "the children are our future" is actually true, so you've got to deal with the pressure of shaping the minds of tomorrow's leaders.
Although many educators have the perk of being off for summer vacation, their average work week is rarely confined to the rings of the morning and afternoon bells. Grading papers, meeting with parents, holding office hours for students, attending in-service days and creating lesson plans happen outside of the school day. In addition, many elementary and high school teachers are required to take renewing education courses every two or three years in order to stay abreast of new techniques and developments in their areas of study. This is after years earning a master's degree, and in some cases a doctorate, in order to become an instructor.
Jobs to consider
For those up to the challenge, however, education is a rewarding field that offers opportunities to work with students of all ages in any subject imaginable. Here are just a few of the many positions for educators:
1. Adult literacy instructor
Although the most commonly depicted image of students is that of young, wide-eyed pupils learning about the world, they aren't the only ones. In the most recent National Assessment of Adult Literacy conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics, 11 million adults are not literate in English, and 30 million have below basic literacy skills. These adults often turn to adult literacy courses in order to improve their reading and writing skills, which can help them both with basic daily activities and their careers. Adult literacy instructors are trained to work with adults whose reading and writing skills need improvement, and they often teach courses at two-year colleges or community centers.
Salary: $45,920 *
2. Education administrator
Education administrators are responsible for how a curriculum in a specific school district is implemented. They work with teachers to ensure that students are meeting the standards set by the school board and evaluate their performances via standard testing and in-class evaluations.
Salary: Preschool and child care centers: $41,060; elementary and secondary: $85,220; postsecondary: $82,800
Although you might only think of librarians as the people who tell you to keep your voice down at your local library, they are responsible for much more. Librarians earn a Master of Library Science (MLS) degree in order to become research experts who know how to find information in books, journals, online publications, multimedia and archived materials. In addition to working at public libraries, librarians also work at school libraries on campuses at grade schools, high schools and universities.
4. Special education teacher
Special education teachers work with students who have learning or developmental conditions that require a different approach from that of a standard classroom. Special education teachers are needed for students from preschool through high school. Because students in these courses might have learning differences, such as dyslexia, or more demanding needs, including autism and visual impairment, teachers usually earn their degrees in a special education concentration.
Salary: Preschool-elementary: $50,020; middle school: $50,810; secondary school: $51,340
5. Teacher (kindergarten, elementary, middle and secondary)
These teachers work with students until they graduate from high school. Because they work with the youngest demographics of students, they are responsible for teaching the basic skills that serve as the foundation for later education and work. Kindergarten, elementary, middle and secondary school instructors teach students reading, mathematics, science, physical education and more.
Salary: Kindergarten: $47,830; elementary: $50,510; middle: $50,770; secondary: $52,200
6. Vocational teacher
Vocational instructors have similar responsibilities to grade, middle and high school teachers, except they specialize in one field of work rather than a broader skill set. For example, a vocational teacher will earn a certification in his or her field of interest, such as veterinary science, the culinary arts or agriculture.
Salary: Middle school: $47,870, secondary school: $51,580
* Average salary figures based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.