Laura Berlinsky-Schine
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When you consider school jobs, you’re probably thinking about teaching. While teachers are central to keeping schools running smoothly, they make up just one of many possible career options in primary and secondary education.

Considering a job in a school? Learn about some of the common options, education requirements, school environments, and more.

Types of School Jobs

• Teacher

The job most commonly associated with working in schools, a teacher may work at the elementary-, middle-, or high-school level. Middle- and high-school teachers usually focus on specific disciplines, while those working with younger students may teach multiple subjects along with broader developmental areas.

The requirements for becoming a teacher vary according to your state, but most teachers will need at least a bachelor’s degree to start and must complete a teacher certification program within a certain amount of time to work in a public school.

• Teacher Assistant or Teacher’s Aide

At the K-12 level, teacher assistants support teachers with tasks such as supervision, lesson plans, instruction, and other classroom duties.

Teacher assistants usually only need a high school diploma. Some may choose to further their education while gaining experience, which can help them become teachers or expand their career opportunities in other ways. 

Sometimes, the term “teacher’s aide” is used interchangeably with teacher assistant, although the former tends to refer to those who don’t have teaching duties. The New York State Education Department, for example, distinguishes between the two professions, noting that teacher assistants must have certain certifications and provide instruction under the supervision of a teacher, while teacher’s aides do not.

• School Librarian

For those who love reading and working with children, working as a school librarian can be a rewarding career path. Depending on the grade level and school, school librarians teach students about reading, using a library, accessing resources for research, and more. They often work with teachers to coordinate projects and build lesson plans, especially those related to research and reading.

School librarians must generally have a bachelor’s degree, with some districts requiring additional teaching or library certifications and licensures. Some may require a master’s degree as well; often, school librarians earn a Master of Library Science (MLS).

• Guidance Counselor

Helping students build developmental and social skills, as well as nurturing their academic growth, guidance counselors are fundamental school personnel. They serve as a support system for students in many different aspects of their lives, including providing college counseling and assistance with personal issues.

Most schools require guidance counselors to have a master’s degree, as well as meet other certification or licensure requirements. Again, this varies by the school district.

• Administrator

“School administrator” is a broad term encompassing principals, program directors, superintendents, and others. Administrators often work with a variety of issues and services including budgeting, student and faculty support and management, communication and announcements, academic records, and more.

Many administrators work as teachers before assuming their roles; often, teaching experience is a requirement of the job. Typically, to reach this level, candidates must obtain a bachelor’s degree, teaching license or certification, master’s degree, and administrator’s license. 

Typical Benefits and Working Environment

The benefits and work environments for school jobs can vary by position, school district, and other factors. Here’s an idea of what to expect.

• Benefits

Many school jobs offer benefits such as health, dental, and vision insurance and pension plans. You’ll also find positions that provide tuition reimbursement if you want to further your education.

• Time Off

While it is somewhat of a myth that teachers and other school workers have summers off, with many facilitating or working in summer programs or completing other tasks and projects during summers and after the school day, often, these positions do provide a fair amount of vacation time and flexibility, often more than many other jobs.

• Environment

Again, the environment can vary considerably depending on your school, the nature of your job, and other factors. You can expect to have some busy times, such as the beginning of the school year and during exam periods, while others may be quieter. 

School jobs can also be stressful, both psychologically and physically, given the nature of working with children and being on your feet for long periods of time.

Where to Find School Jobs

There are several methods you should use to find a job, including searching on job boards and job search sites and networking. It’s important to start early and cast a wide net; depending on your district and area, it may easier or more difficult to find a school job. 

• Individual School Districts

Search individual school and district job boards to find openings in your niche. Keep in mind that many post jobs in spring, although this is not always the case; check frequently, so you can be ready to be one of the first applicants. 

Many school districts will allow you to upload your resumes and qualifications and will notify you should something appropriate become available; still, you should be proactive about finding matches and applying.

Job Search Sites

Check out general sites like Indeed and Monster, as well as school-focused ones such as SchoolSpring, for assistance with your job search.

Networking

Word of mouth is an important resource for finding any job, and working in a school is no different. Make sure to make people aware that you’re looking for a position and be specific about the kind of job you want. 

Reach out to former teachers and other friends and acquaintances in the education field. Even if you don’t live in the same area or school district, you never know who might know someone who knows someone.

Private School Jobs

Private school jobs different from those in public schools in a number of ways. Some people may prefer working in one system or the other. Differences include:

• Salary

People working in private schools can generally expect to earn a lower salary than those in public schools. There are many possible explanations for this, including the lack of teacher’s unions for private schools, fewer education requirements, lower demand, and, in some cases, more attractive environments—often, private school workers have smaller classes sizes, fewer students overall, and less government oversight.

• Education Requirements

Public schools generally, at minimum, require school workers to hold a bachelor’s degree and certifications—depending, of course, on the nature of the position. In private schools, this is usually not the case. Teachers, for example, are often not required to have a teaching certification.

• Environment and Student Body

Private schools tend to be smaller and, because they cater to a higher socioeconomic bracket, will have different environments than those of public schools. Many private schools require students to pass admissions tests. Private schools also generally require families to pay for tuition, although many offer financial aid. 

Some jobs may be unavailable in private schools, such as special education teachers and specialists.

• Curriculum

Because private schools are not funded with tax dollars, they have fewer state mandates governing their curricula. That means they may not be required to perform state testing or meet other requirements that public schools must fulfill.

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