Roles that Can Help Advance Your Career in Education

Michael T. Coleman
Michael T. Coleman
Elementary school principal; M.A. in K-12 Educational Leadership
Group of educators sitting together talking and laughing.

Many educators have come to the point in their professional journey when they have realized they want to move on from teaching. It is not necessarily because they are burned out, but it may be that they want to advance their career in education. Luckily, there are many paths that educators can take once they have had a solid foundation in teaching.

What Benefits Come with Career Advancement?

Very often teachers hear, or they even say themselves, that they are not in it for the paycheck but teach because they are passionate about the children. While the passionate description is definitely true, we all know that one big reason we work is because we need the paycheck for financial security in our lives. We must be able to care for our families, put a roof over our heads, and be able to pay our bills. Teachers should not have to have a second job just to do those things.

Hence, one of the reasons for wanting to advance your career in education is the increase in salary. Depending on the school district that you work in, there can be major discrepancies between the top teacher salary and the top principal salary. Teachers should be cognizant of the salary points in their districts.

Although having an increase in your paycheck is phenomenal, educators also then realize that their pension is going to increase. A teacher’s pension plan is much better than most retirement plans because it is not based on investment returns. Pension plans vary from state-to-state, but the formula remains the same. Each state has a multiplier that they use. This multiplier is put onto the final salary of an educator, and they receive that percentage of their salary after retirement. Therefore, deciding to advance your educational career has long-term benefits.

Leadership is vital in every school. Teachers lead the classrooms.; principals lead the schools; administrators lead the school districts. Without great leaders, schools will not succeed. Career advancement from a teacher to a principal or other administrative role will allow you to take on more leadership roles and responsibilities. You will have the opportunity to look critically at the gaps in your school and find ways to fill them. You will have a say in curriculum development. You will be able to provide solutions to obstacles that the teachers in your buildings are facing.

Additional professional development also comes along with career advancement in education. You may have to complete a master’s degree or certificate program to be eligible for your next career step. You will be able to specialize in an area that you have become passionate about – special education, speech pathology, English language learners. There is a plethora of benefits when one moves up the ladder in education.

Administrative Positions

Administrative positions are an option to think about advancing your career to. You can become a principal or a vice principal. You will need a certain amount of teaching experience and the specific educational requirements, which vary by state. However, in this role, you will remain in the schools and interacting with the students and teachers every day. You can also take a different path and become a director of curriculum, director of special education, or the superintendent. These positions are typically not based inside the schools. So, if you still want to be part of the daily hustle and bustle of the school, be sure to identify where these positions work and how much they interact with the teachers and students.

School Counseling

Guidance counselors are on the same pay scale as teachers. Although this position does not offer an increase in salary, it does change the day-to-day responsibilities from being a teacher. One must have a degree in school counseling to secure this position. The majority of school counselors will tell you it is worth it. They get the opportunity to work one-on-one with students and help them with a variety of needs – not just academic. School counselors say that it is extremely rewarding but to be prepared for the heartbreak that can happen when they see a child in crisis.

Specialist Positions

Education specialists work with many different students in a school. A speech pathologist works with students who have speech deficits, which then can impact their reading and school performance. A special education specialist works with students that have IEPs and need specific interventions. Behavioral specialists help identify students with behavioral issues and then creates plans to help them function in the regular class setting. An ESL specialist tests and places new English learners when they enter a school. They also may teach ESL to these students and makes sure that teachers are making their content accessible for them. These types of specialist positions are another way to advance your career in education.

Instructional Coordinators

Instructional coordinators analyze the curriculums being used at the elementary and secondary levels. They look at the data from statewide tests and ensure that what is being assessed on these tests are being taught in the classrooms. Positions like these are also tasked with providing professional development to the teachers. They must keep themselves up to date on the newest best practices and strategies and provide opportunities for teachers to learn and use them. Additionally, they must show ways to provide the needed differentiation for the students in the schools. These strategies are necessary to help students reach their fullest potential.

Other Roles

There are also other positions that are needed in the administrative building. There is the superintendent of building and grounds, the chief financial officer, or the director of human resources. These require different degrees than teaching, but they are positions that are still in education and offer advancement in your career. Some schools have a grant writer whose job is to find educational grants and complete the application to secure the money for the schools.

No matter which direction you decide to follow, it is important to realize that you can advance your career in education. Every job in a school is vital. A school cannot function properly without them. Once you find your passion, start working toward that goal and the benefits will follow.

*Updated January, 2021
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