Education, Childcare & Early Learning
If you’ve got a love of learning, helping others reach their academic goals, or supporting young children’s educational development, a career in education could be for you!
Education, childcare, and early learning is a broad sector, covering pre-school care and education right through to adult education.
Learning and studying are a core part of our lives, no matter our age, and there’s an opportunity to support others in various roles at every step of their learning journey.
The industry predominantly covers:
- Early years daycare and kindergarten
- Elementary, middle, and high school education
- University education
- Adult and community education
- International student education
- Education policy and reform
But it also incorporates:
- Professional certification
- Driving education
- Sports and physical education
Early childhood care and kindergarten education are more than getting children ready for their next steps at elementary school. Workers in this industry aim to support the holistic development of a child’s social, emotional, cognitive, and physical needs to build a foundation for lifelong learning.
At the elementary, middle, and high school levels, teaching is a huge profession that many find incredibly rewarding. As well as teaching, you could get involved in curriculum assessment and development, exam design and evaluation, or learning research.
State governments are responsible for how education is conducted and funded. The Department of Education in each state works on various policies for the advancement and improvement of the industry and determining funding, budgets, and grants. It could be an exciting career path for those wanting to be a part of positive improvements across the education sector.
The education industry also has opportunities across various support roles, including administration, marketing, communications, human resources, career advice, sports coaching, and information technology.
Entry into the sector is as varied as the roles available, so no matter what academic pathway you choose to pursue, there’ll be an opportunity to get started with a career in education, childcare, and early learning!
What You Could Do
Job roles in the industry are varied, as mentioned, and there’s a lot more to get involved with than teaching a class.
Here’s a look at a few roles you could pursue:
- Kindergarten Teacher Kindergarten teachers support young children to get ready for the next steps into elementary school. They often help teach social skills and perform some pre-school readiness, such as reciting the alphabet and writing letters.
- Teacher: Teaching can be a full-on job, but many in the industry say how rewarding it is. Duties vary depending on the year/age of children and subject/s taught. Typically, teachers are expected to plan and implement courses of study, provide a safe and educational environment in accordance with the child safe standards, teach an area of the curriculum or a general curriculum to a year level, monitor, evaluate and report student progress throughout the year.
- Teacher Aide: A teacher’s aide assists teachers in elementary, middle, or high schools. They help prepare teaching materials and supervise the children during lessons. In addition, they may work across a classroom or support specific students who require extra support with their studies.
- Academic Lecturer: Academic lecturers are responsible for providing a high-quality teaching and learning experience to university students and making ongoing contributions to the university’s academic mission. They will support curriculum development, educational management and administration, research, and scholarship.
- Head of Department: The Head of an Academic Department provides academic leadership and management to all academic staff within that department. They are usually subject matter experts and are required to lead, manage and develop the department to ensure it achieves the highest possible standards of excellence in teaching and learning as well as research.
- Academic Administrator: Like schools, all universities require administrators to handle the paperwork associated with running the school. Duties can vary depending on specific roles but include managing enrolments, assignment submissions, exam enrollments, tuition fees, and general student support.
- Adult Education Lecturer: Adult education lecturers deliver a core curriculum on specific subjects in a classroom setting like other teachers. They plan, prepare and evaluate courses of learning. The only difference is- they teach adults!
These job roles are only just scratching the surface.
Each industry segment will also include administrative or managerial functions that support the sector in significant ways.
Graduate Employment and Gender Split
Although a degree is not always essential for every career pathway into the education sector, it’s worth knowing what graduate employment looks like to help set your expectations and make further decisions.
The National Association of Colleges and Employers tracks graduate employment across different industry sectors.
- Education Graduates in full-time employment: 60.7%
- Education Graduates career outcomes overall: 83.6%
Keep in mind that this doesn’t account for graduates working part-time and/or who may have continued to higher studies; these are very promising percentages!
The gender split across the industry depends on the segment of the sector you work within, but more females are predominantly working in this industry.
Reports indicate that the average split is:
The majority of workers in the childcare and early years education sector of the industry are women, with a more even split between men and women working in high schools and higher education roles.
Current surveys in the sector indicate the median salaries for full-time in the sector roles as:
- Kindergarten Teacher Roles: $46,800-$56,300
- High School Teacher Roles: $60,60-$79,800
- Teacher Aide Roles: $23,400-$30,800
- University/Academic Professor Roles: $104,000-153,000
- Community College Professor Roles: $53,700-$70,100
Salaries can be pretty varied, with lower expectations for entry-level roles.
Salaries are also determined by several factors, including:
- The segment of the industry you work within.
- Your job title and seniority.
- The amount of experience you have.
Your location, for example, organizations in large cities tend to pay more than those in rural areas.
According to a report from IBIS World, the educational services sector is expected to continue growing over the next few years, aided by consistent government funding and demand for ongoing education services.
Overall, the sector is expected to experience strong growth over the next five years. The pandemic has increased the need for flexible and adaptable digital and technical skills across all levels of education.
Kindergarten, elementary, middle, and high school teachers are some key areas of job growth and qualified teachers remain in high demand. Other key job growth areas in the industry include academic administrators and teaching aides.
Demand for other educational professions, such as sports coaching, language instruction and tutoring, and driving schools, is anticipated to decline at a faster rate than other services within the industry due to their discretionary nature.
In terms of advancements in technology, education will see a lot of growth and the need to meet an increasing pool of global learners.
Qualifications and Entry Pathways
Entry pathways are varied and will depend heavily on the type of role you want to get into.
Typically, elementary, middle, and high school teachers will require a bachelor’s degree in education, teaching, or a specialized major you’d like to teach in.
The steps to becoming a teacher in the US involve:
- Earning a bachelor’s degree with a major in the subject you wish to teach while completing your school’s teacher preparation program.
- Completing a student teaching internship in the subject you wish to teach.
- Take the teaching and subject-area tests for teacher licensure required in your state.
- Applying for your teaching license.
For administrative and other support roles, you could enter the industry through:
- Pursuing a degree: You could enter an administrative, IT, or human resources role by completing a degree in these majors and then applying to work within a school or university.
- Scoring an apprenticeship or traineeship: You could pursue an apprenticeship in administration or IT and work to gain industry-specific qualifications alongside your certificate of education and work experience.
- Work experience once you leave school: If you leave school at 16, you can apply for work experience and school-leaver programs in administrative or entry-level positions and work your way up over time.
Requirements will depend on the type of role you want and the company – so make sure you do some research.
Whatever your circumstances, grades, or preferred way forward – there’s a qualification pathway that will work for you.
Best Places to Study
Where you choose to study will be dependent on a range of factors, and if you want to teach a specific major, you’ll need to research the best universities for that subject.
Below are some of the top institutions in the US to study education and training:
- Brown University
- Elon University
- Georgia State University
- Princeton University
- Dartmouth University
- Boston College
- Duke University
- Stanford University
Where to Learn More
You can learn more about different education, early learning, and childcare industry pathways through professional bodies and organizations advocating for careers in the sector.
Some good places to start include:
And many more!
Each state will also have several professional organizations to help you learn more about the industry, network, and develop your career.