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Top career paths for education graduates

December 21, 2016 by Lindsay Racen


The popularity of education both as an area of study and as a career field is due in large part to the dedicated current and prospective teachers that are motivated to inspiring future generations. It is definitely a commendable professional path which is why we have done our research to help recent education graduates find their perfect job in the field.

Top Education Career Paths 

The numbers have been crunched and opportunities analyzed to find the latest rankings for some of the top careers in education including the highest paying paths. Here are a few of our favorite picks:

Instructional Coordinator

There are many titles attributed to this type of position including curriculum specialist, instructional coordinator, instructional coach, or director of instructional material. In a nut shell this person is the magic behind the scenes who supports teachers and integrates the newest technology in the classroom. It ranks at the top of the list because its growing demand in the field due to recent changes in education standards. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that this job will grow the fastest over the next five years.

In order to qualify for a curriculum development position, prospective leaders must have a master’s degree in teaching, educational administration or curriculum and information. While salaries can vary with location and school district budgets the majority of them ranged from $33,520 to $93,340. Individuals who fill these positions are generally great communicators, creative, analytical, technologically savvy, and have high writing abilities. They are the invisible hand to maintaining high standards for students in the face of constant change.

Special Education Teacher

At UMass Global, we love and respect special education teachers which is why we offer so many emphasis options for attaining a Master of Arts in Special Education including early childhood, autism, advanced methodology, behavior analysis, and teaching and learning. The role of special education teacher lands in the third place spot, with annual income peaking at $82,000. Although some may find the job demanding at times, the benefits of pursuing a career in special education are plentiful with many advancement opportunities and the emotional reward that comes from supporting these amazing students.

By nature, individuals with this career path will work with students who have a variety of physical and learning disabilities. Teamwork is critical since they work directly with other special education teachers, paraprofessionals and assistants. They create lesson plans that students can understand and relate with, work with them on these goals, and discuss the children’s advancement with their families. Most of these jobs do follow the traditional school schedules with summers on recess, but there are additional opportunities to earn a living during the downtime either in or out of the school system.

School Counselor

Student support systems at all educational levels are critical for the development of future leaders and professionals. Traditional counselors work in schools to help guide students as they make academic and career decisions. They assist them with personal, social and behavioral issues in classroom settings, with elementary and middle schools counselors dealing more with the latter than with academic and job oriented plans. The BLS states that school counseling positions are growing faster than average, at 14 percent, which means that by 2018 there will be approximately 314,400 job openings in the field.

Applicants must have a school counseling certificate and most states require them to have achieved a master’s degree in counseling through education, psychology or human resources. Unlike some other careers in education, the work schedule of the average counselor is relatively steady and confined primarily to the standard 40 hour work week. With growth opportunities high in most cases, the mid-salary range is about $51,050 with a high of $82,330.

Education Administrator

The position of education administrator is challenging at times but can be one of the most rewarding career paths in the industry. Their average salary and benefits are better than others in the field with a six figure high of $160,500 annually. The difficulty however resides in the competitive landscape as openings are more limited to over achieving individuals and often requiring a lot of overtime work. Although the standard education mostly requires a license and master’s degree for qualifying, a doctoral degree is often encouraged especially in the discipline of organizational leadership.

Education administrators perform a variety of roles deans, assistant deans, principals, district leaders, provosts, and vice presidents. Their contributions ensure that institutions run smoothly by setting the atmosphere of the school through strong leadership. They help support their faculty and depending on the position, they might oversee the resources for their school and manage the overall budgetary goals. In most cases the position itself is the ultimate career achievement, with many serving as teachers and climbing their way to the top.

K-12 Teacher

The fabric of the educational landscape of course relies entirely on teachers, which is why K-12 teachers and instructors land in the top 10 list for careers in the field. The salary follows many of the other positions with a mid-way range of $49,140 and a high of $80,970. There is also a lot of growth opportunities for the industry with a teacher shortage impacting job availability both nationally and more critically in California. In part because of this vast job market, the educational background of K-12 teachers stands at the bachelor’s level and requires licensing from the state.

Teachers serving students from kindergarten through senior year in high school generally instruct students on a variety of subjects and are responsible for grading assignments, assessing student progress, meeting with parents and administrators, updating class websites and more. Some may even serve as mentors by participating in leadership positions for school clubs and establishing the rules of conduct.

Other top careers in education

Learn more about these and other popular career opportunities in the industry by digging deeper into the positions and their details. Here are a few others for new education graduates to consider:

  • Librarian
  • Health Educator
  • Sports Coach
  • Academic Dean
  • College Professor

Start your career in education

If you're interested in pursuing a career in education, as you can tell you have a lot of options. Take some time to determine which path is right for you and start mapping your road to achieve your goals. University of Massachusetts Global offers an array of credential, authorization, professional development and degree programs for education professionals. Head over to the School of Education page to explore your options. 



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