What Are The Opportunities For Advancement For A Teacher?

"I am currently taking up a bachelor’s degree in elementary education because I do plan to be an elementary teacher as soon as I graduate. You could say that I have a teaching pedigree because my grandmother, mother and aunts are all teachers. I saw them growing old as teachers and I don’t seem to see that they have advanced in their career. Are there opportunities for advancement in the teaching profession? What are they?"

asked by Fiona T. from Arlington, Texas

There are opportunities for advancement in the teaching profession even if these may not be readily apparent at first. The options for moving up the career ladder are similar among kindergarten, elementary, middle school and high school teachers. For postsecondary school teachers, these advancement opportunities are slightly different.

Teachers who work in the basic education sector move up in their careers by becoming mentors to new teachers or by getting appointed as lead teachers. Their main task is to guide other teachers so they become more effective and efficient in what they do. Teachers who have been working for a number of years in the school and have shown exemplary performance are the ones who advance to these positions.

Kindergarten, elementary, middle school and high school teachers can also advance to management positions by becoming assistant principals and then principals of the schools they are working in or in other schools. These positions require postgraduate degrees in the field of education administration or related fields. Meanwhile, those who would prefer not to hold a school-wide leadership post can go back to school and earn certification so they can work as instructional coordinators, school counselors or librarians.

Advancement for postsecondary teachers initially means getting tenure. In a traditional academic setting, teachers who are in tenure-track positions work for seven years to become tenured and thus hold a certain sense of stability in their job. The road towards tenure is not easy as they would have to do research, teach for a number of years and prove that they have contributed something to the school in the years that they have been there.

The reason why getting tenure is a goal for many postsecondary teachers is because when a teacher has tenure, it means that he cannot be unceremoniously removed from his job. There has to be just cause before administrators can fire him. Postsecondary teachers generally start as assistant professors and then move on to become associate professors and finally, professors.

Tenured professors then have the opportunity to further advance their career by holding administrative positions as a dean of a particular department or as vice president for academic affairs or even as president of the entire educational institution.

Another advancement opportunity for many postsecondary professors is when they are employed as consultants for various organizations due to the research they have done in their fields. This can enhance their credentials and may even lead to more illustrious positions in larger universities or international organizations.

Career Spotlight: Teacher

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