Like any career, there are pros and cons of being a teacher. Before training, student teachers should get to know what teaching really involves and ensure it’s the career choice for them.
What are the disadvantages and negative aspects of the teaching profession? What are the benefits and positive aspects of the teaching profession?
What are some of the pros and cons of being a teacher?
Everyone assumes they know what a teacher’s role is, and people are often quick to argue that teaching involves short hours, long holidays and relatively little work! Whilst this would make teaching a very attractive career prospect, sadly it’s just not true.
The school day may run from 8am-3pm but teachers work before and after school, which makes their day significantly longer. As for those long holidays you’ve heard about, the majority of educators spend their holidays teaching in summer camps, taking part in continuing development programs and preparing for the next school year.
1. What are some of the advantages?
Teaching can be a rewarding and exciting role so it’s not surprising so many people consider working in the education sector. Although teachers do work long hours, they have the benefit of working to a set schedule. Aside from extracurricular activities, for example, teachers know they won’t be teaching on the weekends or during set periods throughout the year, such as the summer holiday.
Job security is also a big advantage of working as a teacher. There is less volatility in the education sector than in other industries, so you may not be as worried about your future if you’re working as a teacher. In addition to this, many teachers receive benefits, such as health insurance, and this can be a significant advantage compared to other jobs.
For the vast majority of teachers, however, the main advantage of a career as a teacher is the opportunity to inspire young people. Good teachers are passionate about teaching and they want to encourage students to achieve their goals. Helping students to understand a tricky topic, being a source of support through a difficult time and seeing pupils succeed is unbelievably rewarding and it’s what teachers aim for day after day.
2. What are some of the disadvantages?
All careers have their downsides and teaching is no different in this respect.
Educators can face a range of challenges throughout their career, including:
Supportive parents can be one of the biggest benefits of teaching but dealing with overly critical or demanding parents can be a challenge too.
It’s not just students that need to study. Some roles require teachers to have Master’s degrees and not all employers offer to fund these studies. Funding another degree and finding the time to study for it can be difficult for teachers who are already working full-time.
Teaching is just a small part of an educator’s role. Teachers must also manage all sorts of guidelines, rules and regulations, as well as dealing with competing demands from principals, administrators and school districts.
Most schools are underfunded and teachers can spend a lot of time trying to raise money for their class, grade or school. In addition to this, teachers often buy classroom materials out of their own pocket.
Most teachers dislike standardized testing as much as their students but finding the time to focus on other areas can be challenging.
At home work
Teachers regularly take work home with them and often have to prep lessons or grade papers in the evening or on weekends.
Working in a classroom with 25-30 students means teachers are constantly trying to meet the needs of students who may be working at different levels.
Although teaching does have its challenges, these are usually far outweighed by the benefits teaching can bring. Despite some disadvantages of choosing a career in teaching, the best parts of the job are undeniably inspiring, rewarding and satisfying.
3. What kind of work do teachers do?
Educators spend a significant portion of their time in class with their students but there is a lot more to the role than actually interacting with your pupils and delivering content.
As well as instructing pupils, teachers carry out various other tasks, such as:
- Managing extracurricular activities
- Organizing parent-teacher conferences
- Attending school events
- Planning upcoming lessons
- Grading assignments
- Fundraising for their school
- Preparing their classroom
- Mentoring pupils
- Taking continuing development classes
4. What are teachers paid?
Different schools offer varying remunerations packages but, on average, teachers can expect to earn the following according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook.
Average teacher pay:
- High School Teachers – $59,170
- Middle School Teachers – $57,720
- Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers – $56,900
5. Private school advantages and disadvantages
As private schools don’t always require teachers to be certified, it can be a good way to start your career. Gaining experience in a private school can confirm whether or not the teaching is the right career option for you, and if it is you may choose to become certified.
In addition to this, private schools may have smaller class sizes and additional resources, which is extremely beneficial when teaching.
However, the salary in private schools isn’t always as high as it is in public schools, primarily because teachers aren’t required to be certified. Furthermore, private schools vary considerably and not all offer high funding, unlimited resources and small classes.
6. Public school advantages and disadvantages
A teacher’s role depends on the school they’re working at and there can be significant differences between working in a private or public school. Private schools tend to have more funds and more facilities, which can make the job easier.
Working in a public school can bring additional challenges, such as bigger class sizes and lack of funds. Of course, this isn’t true of every public school. Schools in wealthier neighborhoods tend to have more resources and some districts are attempting to implement smaller class size limits. Working in underfunded public schools isn’t all bad, however. Teachers in these roles often have the opportunity to work with the most disadvantaged students and this can be extremely rewarding.
Another consideration is the teaching certification required to work in public schools. Whilst some private schools may not require this, anyone who wants to work as a teacher in a public school will have to be certified and undertake the required continuing development courses.
7. How to obtain your teaching certification
A bachelor’s degree in education prepares individuals for certification and either a BA or BS is usually sufficient. Some states will require prospective teachers to take a double major, however. Alternatively, students who have undertaken another degree can enroll in specialized post-college programs. These can be standalone courses or may be taken as part of a master’s degree.
Taking a master’s degree is another way to move towards certification and your first degree doesn’t have to have been in education in order to qualify. Although you don’t need a master’s degree to teach, it can be beneficial and is a good advantage to have if you hope to work in school administration at a later stage.
As the requirements vary from state to state, prospective teachers should always check what the specific certification requirements are for their state. In some cases, credentials can be issued to teachers who are still studying or training so it’s worth getting in touch with the relevant state department to find out more.
8. Certified teaching
To teach in a public school, teachers must be certified and it’s usually the State Board of Education or the State Certification Advisory Committee who issue these certifications.
Every state has different requirements but teachers are required to obtain certification in order to teach:
- Special education (kindergarten through to grade 12)
- Specialized subjects (e.g. science in High School)
- Elementary (kindergarten through to grades 6 or 8)
- Early childhood (nursery school through to grade 3)