The number of college students earning degrees in education is on a steady decline. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports that the number of education graduates decreased by roughly 4,100 each year between 2012 and 2016. There could be any combination of factors behind the slump in the numbers, but one possibility seems to stand out above the rest.
It's become clear over the last several years that a teaching career isn't the only available destination for students hoping to make a living helping others learn. Not only are there several jobs in education that are not teaching, but range of opportunities for bright, compassionate professionals can be found across multiple sectors of the modern career market.
If you love the idea of opening people's eyes to ideas that can help develop their minds and bodies but you don't relish the thought of being on the spot in front of a full classroom, read on to learn about a few careers in education that aren't teaching (and a few related options you might not have considered).
Teaching isn't the only profession that combines creativity, writing, speaking and cooperation with a social environment and a focus on relationships. We pulled together loads of data from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET) and other sources, and we found several career fields that have characteristics similar to teaching but don't take place in a classroom.
Now, this is not to say that you shouldn't become a classroom teacher if that's what you're moved to do. Skilled and passionate teachers are one of the greatest assets a community can have. However, if you're looking for a job that allows you to use your talent for compassionate engagement and patient instruction but aren't sure that classroom teaching is right for you, this list might be just what you're looking for.
Read on below to learn about ten growing careers in education that aren't teaching, complete with data on salary, job growth and more from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
If you're a practicing member of a congregation of faith, you might want to consider a career in church leadership. Jobs in the clergy scored high in terms of cooperation, sociality and concern for others on our O*NET survey — qualities shared by classroom teaching jobs — and they often take place in supportive environments with receptive listening audiences.
Primary duties of a clergymember include organizing and leading religious services, developing or administering religious education programs, studying religious texts and providing instruction or counsel to people with spiritual, personal or emotional needs. Most entry-level jobs in the clergy require just a bachelor's degree, and education is often an acceptable subject, although some religious organizations may prefer candidates who earn their degree in a subject such as religion, theology, ministry or divinity.
Counseling and school psychologists have a lot in common with teachers, especially in terms of the need for compassion and concern for others. Jobs in psychology tend to require more formal education than classroom teaching jobs, also, so you can still pursue a career in the field if you've already earned a bachelor's degree in education. Many education degrees even include some instruction in developmental psychology, so you may already be on your way to fulfilling the requirements for enrollment in an advanced psychology degree program.
A career in school psychology typically requires a master's or professional degree, as opposed to the doctorate that most states require counseling psychologists to hold. Licensing and certification for both clinical and school psychologists are handled at the state level, so check with your state's Board of Education to find out what credentials you may need to earn before you can officially start working.
Music and art are important parts of a well-balanced education, but education isn't the only field in which they can add value to the human experience. If you're an artist or musician who's looking to use your talent to improve the lives of others, pursuing a master's degree in music or art therapy can help you find new avenues for your skills.
Creativity is a big part of a music or art therapist's job, as well, which makes for a working environment that can consistently present you with new ways in which to use your skills. Music and art therapy often requires you to design each client session toward the goal of ensuring that the client can be receptive to your guidance. This can have a lot in common with the instructional design approaches taught in education degree programs, without the stress of being in front of the classroom.
If you're looking for valuable jobs in the school system other than teaching, school or career counseling might be right up your alley. In contrast to counseling psychologists, who work to create a safe space for people to address personal issues and work through emotional challenges, these counselors focus on helping students and other clients design an academic or occupational plan and develop the skills necessary to follow it through.
School and career counselors call for more interaction with students than many other jobs for education majors other than teaching, and they may occasionally be called upon to address a classroom or auditorium to introduce and explain their services. Most counselors in these fields need a master's degree and a state-issued credential to practice their craft, and several states require that school counselors have at least one or two years of classroom teaching experience before they can become certified.
Anyone who has watched a good pediatrician at work probably understands that the ability to build rapport and trust with children can go a long way toward helping patients feel comfortable. If you have a talent for getting along with children and think you may want to take it somewhere other than the classroom, adding a few pre-med courses to an education degree (and getting excellent grades during your bachelor's) can give you a head start on the prerequisites for medical school.
Pediatrics may not often be mentioned among alternative jobs for teachers, but the similarities between the soft skills of each are too numerous to ignore. The ability to speak in a way that both children and parents can understand has very high importance to both pediatricians and teachers, and compassionate concern for others can go a long way toward helping children feel comfortable in the examination room as well as the classroom.
Administration positions are often the first answer to the question "What can I do with a teaching degree besides teach?" In fact, among all non-teaching jobs for education majors, administrators work more closely than most with the education system itself and allow you to make a difference in the lives of children from behind the scenes.
There are several types of education administrator — principal, vice principal, athletic director, superintendent, special education director, etc. — and each one has its own set of education and experience requirements. A master's degree in education administration or leadership is often the entry-level credential for non-teaching jobs in education, but employers for some principal or superintendent jobs may prefer candidates with a doctoral or professional degree.
Social work is another field that isn't often counted among jobs in education that aren't teaching. However, the educational component of working with people who have mental health or substance abuse issues can't be ignored. Along with the need to educate clients on ways to confront and manage their mental health or substance abuse issues, social workers in these disciplines have to be creative when developing effective communication strategies.
These positions come with an added benefit for established teachers looking for a change of scenery: many states require just a bachelor's degree and a certification from mental health or substance abuse social workers, meaning that it may not be necessary to complete years of additional education before you can begin working. You'll need a master's degree and a state-issued license to open a private social work practice, but you can work for someone else with just a bachelor's.
Occupational therapists help injured, ill or disabled people rehabilitate by guiding them through everyday activities in a therapeutic environment. This is another uncommon entry on lists of careers in education other than teaching, but there are some important similarities. Both occupations require patience, a knack for spoken encouragement and a good sense for when a learner might be struggling, to name just a few examples.
A master's degree in occupational therapy is the entry-level credential needed to work in this field, and all states require that you become licensed before looking for a job. The National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) exam must be taken and passed before an occupational therapy license can be issued. You may qualify for master's programs in the field with a bachelor's degree in education, as well, especially if you focused on science as your teaching subject. Courses in biology and physiology are common prerequisites.
The skill overlap between teaching and medicine is no less significant in family or general practice than it is in pediatrics, particularly if your teaching talents include an ability to speak frankly and compassionately with parents who are worried about their children. Pediatricians typically treat only small children, but kids in middle school or high school can still benefit from a doctor who understands the needs and tendencies of a young, developing mind.
A full trip through medical school is necessary for aspiring family or general practitioners, including at least three years of internship and residency work under the supervision of experienced physicians in hospitals or other clinical settings. Once again, science teachers are among those best positioned to make the shift to this career, since courses in anatomy, biology, biochemistry and other life sciences are likely to be required for entry into medical school.
The kindhearted and sympathetic nature of a good teacher can be put to full use in this vital career that often flies under the radar of students in education programs. Healthcare social workers focus on providing individuals and families with the psychological and social support that it takes to cope with acute, chronic or terminal illness or injury, as well as educating patients on their conditions and how to manage them.
Healthcare social workers also provide information on available services and other non-clinical assistance programs. The ability to keep a well-organized portfolio of resources — something classroom teachers likely also recognize as a necessity — can be a big help in this regard. Education and license requirements vary by state, so reach out to the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) or check with the social work department of a college or university in your state to find out more.
Researching careers for this article brought an interesting pattern to light. Three specific statistical regions — two states and our nation's capital — tended to stand out as especially good destinations for many of our alternative jobs for teachers. Click the links in the items below for more information on college programs in those states, including resources for prospective out-of-state students.
Whether it's elevated labor demand, a strict set of regulations or simply a high cost of living that drives their high salary numbers, the fact remains that many of our non-teaching jobs in education tended to command respectable salaries in these regions. Find out how they pay in your state by browsing Occupational Employment Statistics data from the BLS.