Workers in the educational services industry take part in all aspects of education, from teaching and counseling students to driving school buses and serving cafeteria lunches. Although 2 out of 3 workers in educational services are employed in professional and related occupations, the industry employs many administrative support, managerial, service, and other workers.
Teachers account for almost half of all workers in the industry. Their duties depend on the age group and subject they teach, as well as on the type of institution in which they work. Teachers should have a sincere interest in helping students and should also have the ability to inspire respect, trust, and confidence. Strong speaking and writing skills, inquiring and analytical minds, and a desire to pursue and disseminate knowledge are vital prerequisites for teachers.
Preschool, kindergarten,and elementary school teachers play a critical role in the early development of children. They usually instruct one class in a variety of subjects, introducing the children to mathematics, language, science, and social studies. Often, they use games, artwork, music, computers, and other tools to teach basic skills.
Middle and secondary school teachers help students delve more deeply into subjects introduced in elementary school. Middle and secondary school teachers specialize in a specific academic subject, such as English, mathematics, or history, or a career and technical area, such as automobile mechanics, business education, or computer repair. Some supervise afterschool extracurricular activities, and some help students deal with academic problems, such as choosing courses, colleges, and careers.
Special education teachers work with students-from toddlers to those in their early twenties-who have a variety of learning and physical disabilities. Most special education teachers teach at the elementary school level. Using the general education curriculum, special education teachers modify the instruction and, when necessary, develop alternative assessment methods to accommodate a student’s special needs. They also help special education students develop emotionally, feel comfortable in social situations, and be aware of socially acceptable behavior.
Postsecondary teachers, or faculty, as they are usually called, generally are organized into departments or divisions, based on their subject or field. They teach and advise college students and perform a significant part of our Nation’s research. They prepare lectures, exercises, and laboratory experiments; grade exams and papers; and advise and work with students individually. Postsecondary teachers keep abreast of developments in their field by reading current literature, talking with colleagues and businesses, and participating in professional conferences. They also consult with government, business, nonprofit, and community organizations. In addition, they do their own research to expand knowledge in their field, often publishing their findings in scholarly journals, books, and electronic media.
Adult literacy and remedial and self-enrichment education teachers teach English to speakers of other languages (ESOL), prepare sessions for the General Educational Development (GED) exam, and give basic instruction to out-of-school youths and adults. They also may teach classes that students take for personal enrichment, such as cooking or dancing.
Education administrators provide vision, direction, leadership, and day-to-day management of educational activities in schools, colleges and universities, businesses, correctional institutions, museums, and job training and community service organizations. They set educational standards and goals and aid in establishing the policies and procedures to carry them out. They develop academic programs; monitor students’ educational progress; hire, train, motivate, and evaluate teachers and other staff; manage counseling and other student services; administer recordkeeping; prepare budgets; and handle relations with staff, parents, current and prospective students, employers, and the community.
Instructional coordinators evaluate school curricula and recommend changes to them. They research the latest teaching methods, textbooks, and other instructional materials and coordinate and provide training to teachers. They also coordinate equipment purchases and assist in the use of new technology in schools.
Educational, vocational, and school counselors work at the elementary, middle, secondary, and postsecondary school levels and help students evaluate their abilities, talents, and interests so that the students can develop realistic academic and career options. Using interviews, counseling sessions, tests, and other methods, secondary school counselors also help students understand and deal with their social, behavioral, and personal problems. They advise on college majors, admission requirements, and entrance exams and on trade, technical school, and apprenticeship programs. Elementary school counselors do more social and personal counseling and less career and academic counseling than do secondary school counselors. School counselors may work with students individually or in small groups, or they may work with entire classes.
Librarians help people find information and learn how to use it effectively in their scholastic, personal, and professional pursuits. Librarians manage library staff and develop and direct information programs and systems for the public, as well as oversee the selection and organization of library materials. Library technicians help librarians acquire, prepare, and organize material; direct library users to standard references; and retrieve information from computer databases. Clerical library assistants check out and receive library materials, collect overdue fines, and shelve materials.
Teacher assistants, also called teacher aides or instructional aides, provide instructional and clerical support for classroom teachers, allowing the teachers more time to plan lessons and to teach. Using the teacher’s lesson plans in such manner as to provide students with individualized attention, teacher assistants tutor and assist children-particularly special education students-in learning class material. Assistants also aid and supervise students in the cafeteria, in the schoolyard, in hallways, or on field trips. They record grades, set up equipment, and prepare materials for instruction.
School busdrivers transport students to and from schools and related activities.
The educational services industry employs many other workers who are found in a wide range of industries. For example, office and administrative support workers such as secretaries, administrative assistants, and general office clerks account for about 1 out of 10 jobs in educational services.