How to Advance Your Career in Education

Advancement in the educational industry is slow and competitive. No one will roll out the red carpet to the top for you. Promotional opportunities are usually few and far between, which is why you need to have a finger on the pulse of the dynamics of your academic institution. 

Furthermore, many industries have a pre-defined corporate ladder. You know where you stand and what comes next. But as, say, a teacher, your career path is not as clear. Where do you go from there? Are you prepared to give up your beloved classroom for branching out and developing professionally? 

Join us as we explore ways of advancing your career in education and what considerations you should keep in mind along the way.

teacher with blackboard in the background

Are you cut out to be a teacher?

When one thinks of joining the education industry, becoming a teacher is an obvious choice that jumps to mind. But before you set your mind to it, slow down and carefully consider the implications of such a decision. 

It is difficult to overstate the significance of the responsibility of shaping young minds. Teachers play a vital role in children’s cognitive and emotional development in their most impressionable years.

I was never a good English student. I was a science kid in school and couldn’t care less about my English class. I always skipped or phoned in my homework, missed deadlines, and had professional online writing services write essays for me. All this changed with the arrival of my 6th-grade English teacher. She completely turned my attitude around and showed me her class from a whole new, eye-opening perspective. This little tale of mine is to say that it’s not about the subject; it’s about the teacher.

If you are not sure you have what it takes to take on such a huge responsibility, consider assuming a different role within the educational field. Don’t worry; there are plenty on offer. More on that later.

What’s your endgame?

Everyone has a dream job. People get involved in the educational industry usually out of a passion for teaching, not out of mere necessity.

Before venturing on any career journey, you need to clearly define your long-term goals.

You need to have a vision of where you want to end up and choose an entry-level position that will maximize your chances of getting there. Knowing where your desired final destination is will help you pave the way to it. Think before you act; you are an educator, after all.

Marathon, not a sprint

Some people take career steps as they come – opportunistically. They seize whatever promotional opportunity presents itself to them non-selectively, like starving crocodiles. This is the result of shortsightedness or a lack of clear goals and often has such people end up in undesirable positions or career dead-ends.

Don’t be impulsive. Important decisions don’t like to be rushed. Instead, take slower but calculated steps. Before throwing your weight behind a promotion opportunity, ask yourself this: what’s my endgame? Meaning – what is the ultimate, long-term career goal you are striving towards? Then think about whether the job position of interest is in line with your target to make sure you are developing in the right direction. 

Here are a few more questions you should ask yourself while considering a promotion :

  • For what reasons did the position become vacant in the first place?
  • Is the added responsibility proportional to the added income?
  • Are you moving closer or further away from your area of interest?
  • Will it be harder or easier to advance further from there?
  • Is the job within your comfort zone and areas of strength?

Consider specialist roles

Do you want to serve a noble task by contributing to education but are not cut out to educate? Do you love working with children but don’t have what it takes to be a teacher? Fear not.

Aviation is more than pilots. (you also have a dude waving glow sticks at fighter jets) 

Similarly, you needn’t start career in education necessarily as a teacher. It’s a titular job for sure, but far from the only one.  

Here are a few education-specific jobs other than a teacher :

  • Curriculum developer 
  • Education Administrator
  • Department Teacher 
  • Sports coach
  • Academic advisor (Glow stick guy equivalent of education)
  • Student counselor
  • School psychiatrist

Along with these specialized jobs, the educational sector also employs professionals from other spheres. You can be an IT guy, physician, social worker, lunch lady/gentlemen, and many other things.

Keep educating yourself

Learning never stops, even for teachers. If you want to develop your career, you must also develop yourself. Never stop bettering yourself and your craft. Sooner or later, this constant self-improvement will make your supervisors realize that you are overqualified for your current position. 

Being more competent than you were yesterday will also raise your resolve to pursue higher job positions with increased confidence. On the flip side, as soon as you stop evolving and start stagnating, you will lose the will and motivation to drive forward.

Be an active member of your school community

Overheads like employees who are active and engaged and can take the initiative. Try to participate in school life, including outside of your area.

You could take the initiative by volunteering as an after-hours tutor, for example, or offering your bosses ideas to improve the learning process to show dedication and forward-thinking. 

These little things soon add up and raise you in the eyes of the people around you.

Stand out to people by actively participating in discussions and meetings.  And as you do, don’t shy away from criticism when appropriate, and always say what needs to be said. 

No one really likes a suck-up. Being honest, straightforward, and speaking your mind will get you much further. On a similar note, don’t be afraid to raise concerns and voice problems to your bosses. This shows true leadership skills and managerial abilities.

Become a classroom favorite

Advancing your career in education is not only about what your peers and supervisors think about you. How well-liked you are among children—who are usually much more open and forward about their feelings than adults—will seriously affect your reputation at work and help you move forward. 

Bosses value employees according to how much the customers like them. As a teacher, your customers will be the children. You also want to charm the kid’s parents, as their opinion values a lot too and will weigh in when evaluating your performance and impact on the school’s reputation and success.

Maintain healthy relationships

Total impartiality is a myth. People are naturally subjective, and having a good relationship with people in charge of promotions will influence their judgment, at least tacitly. 

Your credentials, experience, and accomplishments are one thing, but having a positive and mutualistic relationship with your co-workers will highly elevate your chances of getting a promotion. Bosses want overhead positions to be held by people who have a positive and constructive relationship with other employees. 

Beware: Maintaining healthy relationships does not mean you need to jump into unwanted friendships or wave and smile like a subservient robot. Just have a positive and open attitude towards others.

Bottom line

Being an educator is recognized as a noble contribution to society – like being a doctor or a soldier. Most teachers are driven by a selfless passion for spreading knowledge and shaping young minds. But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think about professional growth and tether yourself to a classroom forever. Becoming something like a school principal will remove you from the classroom but give you the opportunity to have a greater impact on education and children’s development than any one teacher ever could. Furthermore, other professions within the learning industry, albeit underappreciated sometimes, are no less integral to the overall process of education than teaching.

We hope our list of advice helps you follow your passion and land your dream job!

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