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Career Advice

Careers in Education Offer the Greatest Impact

A limit or lack of education is one of the most significant predictors of poverty in the US. While about 6 percent of students in the middle class and above fail to graduate from high school, more than 22 percent of students living in poverty drop out before high school graduation. Worse, more than half of all school dropouts are students of colour.

Thus, professionals in education can revolutionise the way many groups experience life, from what they know to where they work to how much they can earn over their lifetimes. Education touches individuals, communities and the nation at large, helping everyone find success. While plenty of careers are satisfying in their positive impact, teachers, principals and others in this field should be the most fulfilled.

If you are considering entering education, you should be thrilled to have the opportunity to make such an impact. However, before you train to become a teacher in the US, you should consider the following alternative career paths in education, to determine which one is most impactful – and most attractive to you.

School Counselor

Though they don’t touch every young life in the education system, school counselors provide critical services to students who need help. Many U.S. states mandate that schools have a certain number of school counselors on staff to help students navigate emotional, social and academic issues in their lives.

The exact responsibilities of a school counselor depend largely on the grade levels they service. School counselors employed at elementary schools, for example, might help identify abuse or developmental delays while counselors at high schools help students plan for future careers while responding to more advanced mental health needs.

To become a school counselor, you should need a master’s degree in school counseling as well as a few years of requisite training at the grade level you intend to service.


Principals are administrative leaders within single schools. As such, they make management-related decisions regarding hiring and firing, communicating with parents and other interest groups, designing educational programs and developing specific budgets.

Though most schools have only a single principal, that professional could be supported by a handful of vice principals, who take some of the student-facing responsibilities like disciplining students and contacting parents. There are principals at the college level, but they are often called “deans” instead.

The best principals do have experience in the classroom, so they know what resources teachers and students need most. However, it is important for aspiring principals to seek certification or advanced credentials in education leadership to prepare for the responsibilities of school administration.


Like the CEO of a school system, a superintendent makes decisions regarding education programs, staffing and spending at each school in their district. Depending on the size of a state and the composition of its education system, a single state could have hundreds of superintendents carrying out varying visions for the students in their areas.

Though superintendents rarely interact with students, they do have close contact with many important education influencers, to include policymakers, school principals, teachers, parents and advocacy groups. Often, superintendents must answer to school boards, much like CEOs of companies are at the mercy of their boards of directors, and in some states, superintendents are elected by the public.

In truth, there is no single path that leads directly to superintendent positions. Many superintendents are teachers who pursued an online master’s in education to move into administration, but some successful superintendents pivoted into the field from business leadership roles.

Curriculum Developer

Curriculum developers – known sometimes as instructional coordinators – also work at the district level, guiding an entire area’s schools toward certain subjects and resources. Some districts have vast curriculum development teams while others have only one or two directors making all curriculum-related decisions.

Often, curriculum developers review textbooks, set courses of study and analyze student performance; sometimes, they also work with teachers, providing instruction in new technology and teaching techniques.

Requirements for curriculum developers vary from state to state; in some places, there are no mandatory qualifications while in others, developers must have at least masters-level credentials in an education-related field.

If you care less about where you work and how much you earn than about who you can help and how, then a career in education should be your first choice. Teaching is a great first step, but the above professionals in school administration can impact more lives with greater efficiency. While you are plotting out your career, you should plan to return to school to gain qualifications necessary to reach these influential roles in education.



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