It can be hard to work up the courage to take the first steps toward a new career path – especially when you enjoy your current job and your coworkers are great. Or maybe you’re one of those who are already in your chosen field but you just haven’t moved up the organizational ladder at an acceptable rate.
Either way, keeping a job that limits your advancement and doesn’t push you to attain bigger goals could be holding you back from reaching your full potential.
Ask yourself this: Does the thought of molding young minds intrigue you? Would you be excited to witness the moment a young student masters a difficult lesson? Put simply, have you considered a teaching career?
After all, teaching is field that reports higher-than-average salaries and growth through 2020. Not only that, but earning a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education (ECE) can take as little as 18 months.
So if your future is uncertain and you’re looking for a path that will provide plenty of opportunities for professional development and be equally challenging and rewarding, teaching might just be it.
Here are four recommendations for finding the teaching career you’ve been searching for.
1. Earn an ECE degree
If you’ve never been in the field, a degree is where you start. But it’s not the only thing that will help you.
“To continue to learn, set goals and expand your knowledge in the teaching industry, start volunteering, attending workshops, researching relevant topics and possibly, continue your education,” says Kelsey Granowski, a career services advisor at Rasmussen College.
“Don’t limit yourself, and find ways to keep the passion for your work alive,” she adds.
As a teacher, there are several roads you can choose if you’re hoping to inspire young minds. Early childhood education (ECE) is just one field that caters to child development, special needs students and family dynamics – all of which are crucial components in a child’s formative years.
“If you want to continue your pre-kindergarten teaching path or advance into leadership and administrative roles, an ECE degree will position you for a fulfilling future,” says Cecelia Westby, dean of the School of Education at Rasmussen College.
But, before you commit to earning a degree, take some time to find out if it’s what you really want. Here are three more ways get a feel for the field and gain experience.
2. Find a mentor
Mentors often inspire us to be the best we can be and to work our hardest. They are often the role models we look up to and the exemplar for the success we hope to achieve in our own lives.
“Select a mentor who faced similar fears and challenges to you and who possess a career trajectory similar to your own or the one you wish for,” says Tamryn Hennessy, national director of career development at Rasmussen College.
Not only will that mentor be there for you and relate to your experience, but they will help you to market yourself as an asset and help you deal with any disappointment, Hennessy adds.
In schools, principals will often assign new teachers a “helper” that can answer any questions and assuage any concerns. Whether it is this person or someone else, once you find a mentor, be sure to meet with that person on a regular basis to demonstrate your commitment to your professional development.
3. Find volunteer opportunities
There are several ways you can volunteer in your community and many valuable reasons to contribute your time. When it comes to gaining valuable teaching experience, volunteering as a book reader, tutoring children or mentoring a child are all ways you can add develop your skills and build a resume that stands out.
4. Join a professional ECE association
Networking, networking, networking. Like the old saying goes, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is true. Making industry contacts is a great way to get a feel for the field and, when it comes time, to get your foot in the door. It may be frustrating if you’re not one to socialize, but to break into a network of people who you admire and possibly want to work for in the future, you should think about joining a professional ECE association.
Not only will appearances and memberships in these professional ECE associations help you to meet others who will help you with your career aspirations, but they also will help with professional development and, ultimately, further your teaching career.
What are you waiting for?
The fact of the matter is that, when it comes to your career, it is difficult and uncomfortable to drive down the winding road of uncertainty.
But if you want to learn more about how to find a challenging and rewarding teaching career, these tips on the education, experience and networking are the place to start.
Download the Education Career Outlook to determine the next step in advancing your teaching career.