Whether you end up working in higher education or K12, a career in education can give you the chance to inspire the next generation and make a real difference to students’ lives. With job satisfaction and plenty of scope for personal development too, here are our top ten reasons for considering this path when picking your major in college.
1. Teaching changes the world
The teaching profession can genuinely help reduce social division. A study of North Carolina schools found that having a highly qualified teacher had more impact on students than their race and parental education combined. Closing the achievement gap means a fairer start for the next generation. If you want to change the world, start in the classroom.
2. You can inspire the next generation
Remember the teacher who inspired your love of literature, opened up the world of science or brought math alive for you? The professor who altered the whole course of your life? You could be that person for any of the dozens of students you will teach every year. (And that’s why it’s so important that you remember every moment spent with your students is a “teachable moment”.)
3. America needs you
Great educators are the foundation of America’s success: the better they are, the more the economy thrives. Stanford economist Eric Hanushek calculated that some of the best teachers, at the 84th percentile, boost their students’ lifetime earnings in a class of 20 by $400,000 for every year that they teach. He suggested that if America had the same proportion of high-performing teachers as Finland — with its world-leading education system — it would mean trillions of dollars added to GDP over the lifetime of one of today’s students.
4. You’ll love the moment it clicks
With many jobs, it takes a while to see the fruits of your labor and when it arrives it’s often in the form of a dull spreadsheet of quarterly results. In teaching, the feedback can be instant and it’s written on the faces of your students. You might see them struggling to grasp the concepts you’re sharing with them, but when you hit on the right explanation, you can see their eyes light up. Educators live for these ‘lightbulb moments’ — and you can too.
5. You can share the love for your subject
So you’ve spent years mastering a subject like history or physics during your school and college career and now your knowledge is pretty deep. But there aren’t that many jobs in the corporate sector that will give you a chance to put your understanding of the Great Depression or the Big Bang to work. Teaching means you can still pursue the subject you love, follow its new developments and share your passion with a new generation.
6. You’ll learn new things too
You’ll get a new perspective on your subject when you see it through their eyes: curious and provocative questions from students can transform your understanding. Learning isn’t just about the classroom and you can soon find yourself running extracurricular activities, breaking up conflicts or umpiring sports. You’ll be amazed at all the skills you’ll develop as a teacher.
7. In your classroom, you’re the boss
Few jobs offer the kind of independence that teaching does. Sure, there will be faculty meetings and a boss who will hold you accountable (not to mention curriculum), but when it comes to inspiring the students in your class, you’re in control. It’s a big responsibility, but it means you can feel yourself making an impact right from day one.
8. Teaching is an intellectual challenge
As a teacher, you’re not just responsible for imparting knowledge to your students, but showing them how to reason and think critically. That means your brain gets a workout like no other: you’re constantly following your students’ logic, testing it for flaws and trying to show them ways to improve their ideas. (Read Pearson’s Degrees, our online magazine for higher education professionals, for more tips on how to keep challenging them.)
9. Educators are some of the happiest people around
Here’s the big secret about teachers: even though it’s a tough job, they are some of the nation’s healthiest, happiest workers. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index surveyed 170,000 employees across the USA in 2012 and found that teachers were thriving more than those in any other profession, with the exception of physicians. What’s their secret? Well, they’re the most likely workers to report having smiled or laughed in the last day. Maybe that’s because of the co-workers…
10. Students are the best co-workers
Curious, challenging, mischievous and funny — your class can have you tearing your hair out in frustration one day and jumping for joy the next. They’re the reason that every day is different. You’ll watch as friendships blossom and talents grow. You’ll feel on top of the world when you can have a whole class laughing along or hanging on your every word. You just can’t find that in any other workplace.