Have you ever tutored or been a helping hand to kids younger than you? Can you explain things clearly so that kids get it? Are you a patient person? Growing young minds, designing creative and interesting curriculum and coaching children through social and emotional issues can be exciting ways to spend your career.
Elementary education teacher
Average salary: $56,830
“It is difficult not to get emotionally connected to my students,” says Lori Gross, a preschool teacher and former preschool director. “With so many parents needing to work full time, you find yourself being not only a teacher, but a part-time mother, social worker and guidance counselor. For me, I know I’ve done a good job if they leave my classroom feeling good about who they are and knowing how to respect themselves and others.”
In order to be eligible to teach preschool through third grade in New Jersey, you need a degree from a four-year regionally accredited college or university. Candidates must have a GPA of at least 2.75. A college-approved early childhood program along with student teaching is part of this process. In New Jersey, candidates need to take and pass the Praxis II examination. Check out your own state’s requirements online.
Encouraging young children to reach their goals by establishing routines and teaching critical skills sets the foundation for academic success in the upper grades.
Elementary education vice principal
Average salary: $91,780
When the vice principal wants to talk, it usually means discipline. But there is much more to this career choice.
A VP’s schedule closely follows that of the students. Liadi Belo-Osagie, VP at the Franklin Park School, says his day begins at 7 a.m. and revolves around the students, meeting with teachers and parents, visiting classrooms and resolving problems.
He also attends school functions, such as dance/music recitals and student awards. Some of these functions can be after school hours.
To become a VP, Belo-Osagie says you have to earn a master’s degree, such as in educational leadership and management policy.
Though different states vary on this, you also generally need three to five years of classroom teaching experience.
“The biggest challenge of my job is when I can’t help develop a child to his/her highest potential because there is an issue with the parental partnership,” he says. “In these cases, we still work with the children to ensure their success. It is a rewarding day when I see growth in the children as they become responsible and make the right choices for themselves.”
Middle school music teacher
Average salary: $57,620
Noel Sell, Franklin Middle School Choral Director, teaches five to six classes a day, prepares musical scores and conducts choral rehearsals and concerts.
He balances this with attending meetings, monitoring bus activity, entering student data in the computer and writing lesson plans.
“If you have the desire to be a choral music teacher, my advice is to begin taking voice and piano lessons as well as enroll in a music theory elective offered at your high school,” Sell says. “Most music teaching jobs want to see a demonstration of piano proficiency, and it is also helpful to attend summer music camps offered by colleges and universities. Music theory, music history, ear training, sight reading, conducting and music education practicum classes will all be a part of your college experience. During your senior year, you’ll be required to spend a semester student teaching with a certified, tenured teacher.”
High school guidance counselor
Average salary: $56,040
“Crisis counseling is one of the most challenging aspects of my job,” says Leslee Scheckman, independent counselor and Director of Guidance at Morristown High School in New Jersey. “There are many students and families in need of special attention. High school counselors need to find the appropriate resources to assist families while handling their other responsibilities.”
Working with juniors and seniors on the college admissions process and assisting students in making career decisions are a very important part of this position, says Scheckman. “In high school, a student cannot graduate if they do not earn a specific number of credits (determined by the district) and pass specific courses required by the state. Passing the High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA) is also a requirement for graduation. High school counselors heavily focus on helping students achieve these goals.”
The educational requirements to be a guidance counselor vary from state to state.
Brought to you by Elmira College.