Is Teaching a Good Career?

Dec 26, 2019 by

Choosing a career can be difficult and anxiety ridden. Everyone will offer you advice — Joseph Campbell said: “follow your bliss,” your school counselor probably told you to “find your passion,” and your dad might have encouraged you to find a career that pays the bills. The poet Charles Bukowski once said, perhaps a bit morbidly, to “find what you love and let it kill you.”

Here’s the strange part: they’re all right and they’re all wrong. Finding a career is a multi-faceted, highly individualized pursuit and, ultimately, it’s something only you can decide. What’s right for one person might be completely wrong for you. To help you make this critical decision, we’ve put together some facts about the teaching profession.

Teacher Job Satisfaction

If satisfaction in your career is important to you, it might be beneficial to look at how satisfied teachers are as a group. Thankfully, the National Center of Education Statistics has kept tabs on this over the years, conducting studies in the 2003–04, 2007–08, and 2011–12 school years. In each study, around 9 out of ten teachers said they were satisfied in their careers. Private school teachers were slightly happier in their profession than their public-school counterparts — 95 to 96 percent were satisfied compared to 90 to 93 percent of public-school teachers. These are staggering results, especially considering the challenges that teachers face.

The Challenges of Being a Teacher

One thing is certain about teaching. It’s not easy. Teachers are typically at work before the sun comes up, they spend all day on their feet and they often have to bring their work home with them. They are asked to teach children with a diverse array of learning styles. They sometimes have to peacemakers and babysitters when conflicts arise among students. Their work is constantly being evaluated — parents understandably want to know how their children are doing, school administrators are constantly wringing their hands about test scores and school boards push teachers to adhere to the strict guidelines of state-mandated curricula.

On top of it all, there are loads of paperwork, no short supply of disrespectful students and all sorts of daily struggles. All of these are balanced by the joys of teaching.

The Rewards of Being a Teacher

Despite the challenges, teaching offers many rewards. It’s a profession where you can truly make a difference in the lives of children and help foster the next generation. The scientists, businesspeople, poets, and thinkers that guide our world today can all point to a teacher who sent them on their path and made them what they are today.

For every frustration in the classroom, there are “aha” moments when students make breakthroughs. Teachers report that the job is filled with little unquantifiable joys — sweet students, camaraderie with fellow teachers and days that are filled with adventure.

Teachers also enjoy several quantifiable perks:

  • Better-than-average job security (1.9 million new job openings by 2024)
  • Summer breaks to recharge
  • Good health benefits
  • Better pensions than those in the comparable private-sector jobs

How Much Do Teachers Make?

Salary might not be the most important factor in choosing a career but it’s certainly worth considering. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that kindergarten and elementary school teachers in public schools made a median salary of $57,980 in 2018, while middle school and high school teachers made $58,600 and $60,320, respectively. Private school teachers make around $7,000 to $11,000 less per year than public school teachers, according to the BLS.

If you’re thinking about becoming a teacher, it’s important to weigh all of these factors. How important is salary to you? Do you have a passion for helping children? Do you have the patience to deal with the frustrations? Answering these questions thoroughly and honestly will help you decide if teaching is a good career for you.

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