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Steven R. Van Hook

In Brief: Employment & Economic Trends
Data on the future of education and a teacher's part in it.
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 by Steven R. Van Hook, PhD

Steven R. Van Hook, PhDThe first decades of the 21st century are looking good for educators overall, counting tertiary (college) and primary/secondary teachers (elementary, middle- and high-school instructors).

Here are some interesting projections, courtesy of the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook:

Postsecondary (college and university) teachers are expected to grow by 15 by 2018, which is faster than the average for all occupations. This growth is primarily due to student enrollments in higher education in the years ahead. 

Continuing education adults returning to college will also boost demand for teachers, as the students seek to update their skills and career prospects. This will especially be a boon for community colleges and for-profit career colleges. However, many state-supported institutions are bound to suffer from state and local budget cuts.

Tenure-track positions will grow ever more competitive, and teachers pursuing part-time or adjunct positions are likely to find more opportunities, especially as large numbers of entrenched instructors are expected to retire over the next decade. 

Four-year colleges and universities  will typically require a doctoral degree for full-time and tenure-track positions. However, a master's degree may serve for adjunct positions or certain teaching fields, such as the arts. 

In community colleges and other two-years schools, educators with a master's degree hold most of the teaching spots, though in more competitive fields and localities, teachers holding PhD's may win the job.

Recent calculations place the median annual earnings of all postsecondary teachers at $58,830. The lowest 10 percent of instructors earned less than $28,870 while the highest 10 percent earned more than $121,850.

For teachers at kindergarten, elementary, middle and secondary schools, the job prospects are expected to rise relatively slower as children of the big baby-boom generation move out of the school system. But teachers in high-demand subjects such as math, science, and bilingual education are likely to fare well, as well as those who teach in less desirable urban or rural school districts. 

The recent median wages of kindergarten, elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers ranged from $47,100 to $51,180; the lowest 10 percent earning $30,970 to $34,280; and the top 10 percent earning $75,190 to $80,970.

For primary/secondary teachers, having a master's degree or national certification often garners higher pay. Often teachers earn extra pay by teaching summer school or by holding additional jobs in the school system. While private school teachers typically don't earn as much as public school teachers, they may receive additional benefits such as subsidized housing.  

For much more detail on the outlook for all teachers, including job prospects, qualifications necessary, working conditions, pay and so forth, visit these eminently useful pages courtesy of the Bureau of Labor Statistics: 

Projections for primary and secondary teachers:

Projections for higher education teachers:

Steven R. Van Hook has been an educator for colleges and 
universities in the United States and abroad for more than a 
decade, teaching in traditional, online, and hybrid classrooms, 
and developing more than a dozen different courses.  

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