Education Careers: Choosing A Major

Factors you need to consider when deciding on what field of knowledge you should choose to seek a job as teacher. Information on different standards, school sizes and position security.

So, you've finally decided that you want to go into the field of education and spend your days teaching others. Congratulations! You've picked a respected and honorable profession. Even though you know you want to be teacher, you might not know exactly what it is you want to teach.

Different states have different requirements for obtaining a teaching certificate. With the new No Child Left Behind legislation, however, each state is tightening up the requirements and qualifications that teachers must meet. In the past in states with teacher shortages, it wasn't usually a problem to teach out of field. This means that you might have an English degree, but you are hired to teach a science class. While this still does occur in some school systems, the practice is frowned upon, and many systems can be fined for hiring teachers to teach anything other than what they are certified to teach.

Of course, some school systems have a large selection of applications to choose from. Some subject areas are more difficult to fill than others. When you are deciding what subject area you want to major in, you need to look at several factors. Are you willing to relocate once you graduate from college? If you don't have a preference and would move anywhere in the United States or world, then you don't have to worry about picking a subject area based on availability. There are teaching shortages in virtually every subject in certain areas of the country.



If, however, you want to remain in the area that you consider your hometown, or you want to relocate to a particular city or state, you need to do some investigating. Find out what subject areas have the highest need. Talk to local school administrators. Visit the local school boards. Talk to other teachers. Find out as much information as possible so you can make an informed decision. Sure, it would be great to major in whatever area you choose and walk right into the job, but many times that isn't the case.

The trend for education majors in some areas seems to be slanting towards elementary education over secondary education. Secondary education involves teaching middle school and high school aged students. Because discipline becomes a major issue when teaching the upper grades, education students are more often choosing to go into elementary education. They typically can teach kindergarten through sixth grade. This is the next point you need to consider. Find out which area is easier to find a position in the school system or area that you favor.

There are positive factors for getting an elementary teaching certificate. If you major in elementary education, you may or may not have to declare a major in a subject area. Since elementary teachers typically teach all of the subject areas, they can usually teach any of the lower level grades. This means that if there is an opening in an elementary school, you would more than likely be qualified. The job would probably be posted as an elementary job, not limited to subject area.

If you do choose to go into secondary education, there are particular subjects that generally have more need than others. Math and science jobs are generally much easier to find than history, English, or physical education. Keep in mind that while there are probably several math, science, history, and English teachers in each school, there are only one or two physical education or health teachers there.

If the school is very small, the physical education teacher and the health teacher are probably the same person. Unless the school is very large, there is usually only one consumer science teacher, also known as the home economics teacher, one art teacher, one music teacher, and one drama teacher. Majoring in these fields will drastically lessen your chances of getting hired.

Another point to keep in mind is as a typical rule, many coaches are history teachers also. If you want to major in teaching but you don't want to coach, you may have difficulty finding a teaching job. Job openings in History Departments are often filled by coaches. If you do major in history, double major in another subject to increase your chances.

While school systems sometimes have a hard time finding a foreign language teacher, foreign languages, along with art, music, and drama, are often the first programs cut when a school has a funding shortage. If you major in one of these areas, it is a good idea to double major in a core curriculum subject such as math, science, English, or history. If your language or arts program gets cut, you might be able to hold onto your job by teaching in your other subject area.

Choosing education as your profession is an admirable goal. With some serious forethought and planning, however, you can become successful in obtaining that perfect teaching position.

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