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Beyond Teaching: Six Alternative Careers in Education

Oct 9, 2008 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Columnist | 0 Comments

Want to work with kids in an educational setting, but not sure if a classroom environment is ultimately right for you?  Or maybe you care deeply about education, but aren’t sure you want to stay in teaching or advance to an administrative position.  There are many different careers in education where you can work to support teachers and train new educators.  Here are just a few.

Reading specialist

Reading specialists diagnose reading problems and work to correct them, usually through one-on-one coaching with kids of all ages.  They also work with parents to help their kids develop reading skills at home; collaborate with teachers on how best to incorporate reading strategies in the classroom; and even organize school wide total-literacy programs. To become a reading specialist, you will need classroom experience—and to get that, at least in public schools, you’ll need a Bachelor’s degree and teaching certification.  You may also need a Master’s degree in Reading.

Instructional Coordinator

Instructional coordinators are responsible for writing curriculums, choosing textbooks, training teachers, and ensuring that educational programs meet local and national standards.  Most positions require at least a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction, as well as a teacher’s or administrator’s license, depending on the requirements in your state.  Many employers favor candidates with classroom experience.

Speech language pathologist

These professionals work with people of all ages, from infants to the elderly, on problems with speech impediments and swallowing.  Some schools employ speech language pathologists who specialize in children’s speech problems.  Some speech language pathologists divide their work between several different schools, working one-on-one with students and diagnosing new speech problems.  Educational requirements for this job generally include a Master’s degree and state licensing and certification, which usually requires a nine-month clinical fellowship.  Depending on your state’s regulations, you may need a teaching certification as well.

School librarian

Sometimes called “school media specialists,” a school librarian’s job ranges from collaborating with teachers on how to incorporate library resources in the classroom to running workshops with students on how to get the most from their libraries.  School librarians usually help individual students with research projects and maintain the library’s collection of books and other media.  Many take pride in fostering a love of reading in students, and may initiate school wide reading initiatives.  Most school librarian positions don’t require a Masters in Library Science, but you will probably need a teaching certificate as well as a Bachelor's degree. 

Social worker

School social workers often serve as liaisons between families and schools, ensuring children live up to their academic potential through working with parents, teachers, and other school personnel.  They counsel at-risk students on truancy issues, homelessness, pregnancy, abuse, and other sensitive personal problems, often working to secure outside help if needed.  Depending on the job description, some social workers teach workshops and classes as well as working one-on-one.  To become a school social worker, you’ll need a Bachelors in Social Work and possibly teaching certification.

Truancy officer

Truancy officers are responsible for enforcing school attendance policies.  They have the power to arrest children and return them to school or to parents, and may patrol the surrounding neighborhood or visit students at home.  Most truancy officers have a background in law enforcement.  Some have degrees in correctional and juvenile justice.  Some states appoint truancy officers, usually sheriffs or deputy sheriffs.  In other states, schools have the ability to appoint full-time or part-time truancy officers on their own.

If you have a way with kids and a passion for education, there are many ways you can make a difference in an educational setting.  Careers in curriculum development, reading, counseling and social work, speech pathology, and even juvenile law enforcement have the potential to make a huge difference in kids’ lives.  With a teaching certification, a Bachelors degree and a Masters in the specialty of your choice, you should be able to find a job in a school district that needs your unique skills.




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