Wage and salary employment growth of 20 percent is expected in the educational services industry over the 2002-12 period, higher than the 16 percent increase projected for all industries combined. In addition, a greater-than-average number of workers are over the age of 45 in nearly all the major occupations that make up the industry-from janitors to education administrators-so it is likely that a surge in retirements will create large numbers of job openings in addition to those due to employment growth.
School districts, particularly those in urban and rural areas, continue to report difficulties in recruiting qualified teachers, administrators, and support personnel. Also, many schools in fast-growing areas of the country-including several States and cities in the South and West-report difficulty recruiting education workers, especially teachers. As retirements increase over the projection decade, the number of students graduating with education degrees may not be sufficient to meet this industry’s growing needs, making job opportunities for graduates in many education fields good to excellent. Currently, alternative licensing programs are helping to attract noneducation majors into teaching. In addition, the current economic downturn has led to an increase in the number of job applicants for teacher positions, a factor that has helped to alleviate some of the personnel shortages experienced in previous years. Still, opportunities should continue to be very good for highly qualified teachers, especially those in subject areas such as math, science, and bilingual education.
At the postsecondary level, increases in student enrollments and projected retirements of current faculty should contribute to a favorable job market for postsecondary teachers. As children of the baby boom continue to reach college age, and as more adults pursue continuing education to enhance or update their skills, postsecondary student enrollments are expected to increase, spurring much faster-than-average employment growth for postsecondary teachers. However, candidates applying for tenured positions will continue to face keen competition as many colleges and universities reduce the number of these positions in favor of adjunct or part-time faculty.
Over the long-term, a growing emphasis on improving education and making it available to more children and young adults will increase overall demand for workers in education services. Reforms, such as universal preschool, all-day kindergarten, and reduced class sizes, if enacted, would require more preschool and elementary school teachers. However, flat enrollment projections at the preschool, elementary, and secondary school level are likely to slow growth somewhat, resulting in average growth for these teachers.
The number of special education teachers is projected to grow faster than the average through 2012, with growth stemming from an increasing enrollment of special education students, continued emphasis on the inclusion of disabled students in general education classrooms, and an effort to reach students with problems at younger ages. Employment of teacher assistants also will grow faster than the average; school reforms call for more individual attention to students, and additional teacher assistants will be needed in general education, special education, and English-as-a-second-language classrooms.
Despite expected increases in education expenditures over the next decade, budget constraints at all levels of government may place restrictions on educational services, particularly in light of the rapidly escalating costs of college tuition, special education, construction for new schools, and other services. Cuts in funding could affect student services (such as school busing, library and educational materials, and extracurricular activities), as well as employment of administrative, instructional, and support staff. Budget considerations also may affect attempts to expand school programs, such as increasing the number of counselors and teacher assistants in elementary schools. In States with severe budget problems, schools may be forced to increase their class size, cut back on hiring and training teachers, or even possibly lay off teachers.