10 Roles for an Educator (How to Start an Education Career)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published November 21, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Different careers exist in the education field, including positions in the classroom, school leadership, and other student support roles. Depending on the occupation, an educator's responsibilities may include instructing students, meeting with school administrators, and creating plans and strategies to meet student's educational needs. Learning about the duties and average salaries for different educational roles can help you make more informed career decisions. In this article, we outline ten roles for an educator that you can explore and explain how to start a career in education.

10 roles for an educator

You can review various roles for an educator to learn more about your options in the field. Educators contribute to students' learning development by instilling moral, social, and intellectual knowledge in them. While the specific duties of an educator may vary according to their unique roles, they usually analyze students' needs to determine problems and provide effective solutions. If helping students achieve academic success interests you, consider reviewing different educational roles to choose one that best suits your interest, personality, and career goals. Here's a list of roles in education you can explore:

1. Teacher

National average salary: $36,264 per year

Primary duties: Teachers deliver lessons comprehensively and may use visual or audio channels to facilitate student learning. They're usually experts in specific subject areas, such as math, English, history, or science, and have the necessary teaching skills to present topics to students at different levels or grades. A teacher uses diverse teaching techniques to match students' learning preferences and establish a safe and organized learning environment for students. They may also conduct parent outreach activities and work with parents to address concerns regarding a student's progress.

Related: How to Become a High School Teacher (With Common Duties)

2. Academic advisor

National average salary: $57,793 per year

Primary duties: Academic advisors also work in higher institutions and universities to monitor students' careers and progress. They meet with students regularly to discuss their academic plans, schedules, and degree requirements and help them choose courses that best suit their interests and goals. These professionals liaise between universities and students to help students understand the university policies and procedures. Academic advisors also communicate with faculty members to ensure the efficient scheduling of courses.

3. Classroom assistant

National average salary: $57,898 per year

Primary duties: A classroom assistant supports teachers in the classroom by performing administrative tasks. These may include ordering supplies, filing paperwork, answering phones, and maintaining an effective inventory of school supplies to ensure necessary items are always available in the classroom. While they may complete tasks like preparing materials, they mainly focus on facilitating student interactions and participating in activities supporting the educational process. Classroom assistants can also help students with tutoring sessions or after-school activities.

Related: How to Write a Cover Letter for Educational Assistant Job

4. Instructional assistant

National average salary: $63,176 per year

Primary duties: Instructional assistants help teachers, instructors, and faculty members in an educational environment. They work to ensure students receive a quality education by helping with homework and tutoring them in specific subjects. Instructional assistants support educators at every level by delivering lessons in place of the teacher or lecturer and managing students' behaviour. These professionals are helpful in any educational setting as they allow educators to focus on teaching while they perform clerical tasks like taking attendance.

5. School administrator

National average salary: $63,960 per year

Primary duties: School administrators assume leadership roles and oversee administrative tasks at academic institutions. In addition to preparing classroom schedules, they ensure curriculum standardization and review the functionality of every school department. They also allocate the school's budget and resources and assist with the hiring, training, and onboarding of new teachers. Aside from attending and scheduling team meetings, school administrators also monitor students' academic performance and prepare interventions when necessary.

Related: How to Become an Administrator in a School in 9 Steps

6. Educational consultant

National average salary: $68,166 per year

Primary duties: Educational consultants work with teachers and administrators to enhance the quality of the school curriculum and policies. They analyze the existing resources, curricula, teacher performance, and student results to provide insights into areas for improvement. Aside from developing more effective curricula, they also offer teaching methods, learning outcomes, and instructional materials to improve an institution's lesson delivery and administrative processes.

Related: How to Become an Education Consultant in 5 Steps (With Tips)

7. Instructional designer

National average salary: $69,583 per year

Primary duties: Instructional designers create and implement the curriculum in various professional settings, including schools, businesses, and government agencies. They usually work with subject matter experts to develop effective and engaging lessons on different subjects. These professionals use different technical tools to develop learning materials, such as instructor guides, e-learning courses, and classroom instruction materials. Aside from preparing course outlines, they may also review existing learning materials and conduct assessments to identify areas requiring improvement.

Related: 15 Instructional Design Certifications, Courses, and Certificates

8. School counsellor

National average salary: $76,001 per year

Primary duties: A school counsellor works in educational institutions to provide academic, emotional, and social support and guidance to students, teachers, and parents. They counsel students about their academic and career goals and help them set realistic plans to achieve them. They may also conduct assessments to evaluate students' behavioural and emotional needs and counsel students experiencing challenges or who are at risk of dropping out. School counsellors promote positive peer relationships through mediation and conflict resolution.

Related: What Is an Educational Counsellor? (And How to Become One)

9. Professor

National average salary: $92,354 per year

Primary duties: Professors usually work in universities and higher-level institutions to research, write publications, and teach students in specialized subject areas. These professionals teach undergraduate and graduate level courses and assist students with academic concerns, such as selecting classes, registering for courses, and understanding course requirements. They also conduct research using grants from government agencies or private foundations and present their research findings at academic conferences or in university journals. Professors advise students on majors and coursework most applicable to their careers and ensure they understand course material by answering questions and providing relevant feedback.

10. Associate professor

National average salary: $133,537 per year

Primary duties: An associate professor position is the first permanent teaching position educators usually get after an entry-level assistant professor position. These professionals typically teach undergraduate courses and research their fields to expand their industry knowledge. Associate professors conduct research, publish papers, mentor students, develop curricula, and oversee students' academic progress. They also maintain accurate records of student grades and data, like transcripts and attendance records.

Related: Associate Professor vs. Professor: Hiring and Promotion

How to start a career in education

Here's a list of steps you can follow to start a career as an educator:

1. Earn a degree

Consider earning a bachelor's degree in education or a related field to qualify for many educator roles. While employers often seek candidates with at least a bachelor's degree when hiring these professionals, some may require a postgraduate degree in education. You can also earn a master's degree to gain a competitive advantage during your job search and qualify for more senior-level educator positions. Here are common courses you can study for an educator career:

  • education administration

  • physical education

  • special education

  • secondary education

  • adult education

  • early childhood education

  • educational management

2. Determine the specific role you are pursuing

Before starting your career in education, determine what particular subject or age group you intend to teach. This can help you plan your career path after graduation. Deciding on your preferred teaching position can help guide your training and education to achieve your career goal. It also allows you to streamline and guide your job search when applying for internships or entry-level positions, enabling you to gain experience in relevant fields.

Related: 15 Master of Education Jobs (With Average Salary and Duties)

3. Gain practical experience

Practical teaching experience is essential for professionals in the education field. While your course requirements may include completing an internship before graduation, you can also complete training programs to develop the relevant industry skills for a successful career. Internships provide an excellent opportunity to gain experience that can help you apply for future educator positions. You may also volunteer at a school organization to gain more field experience and employability skills.

4. Earn relevant teaching certifications

After gaining relevant classroom experience, consider your skills and interests and research the requirements to earn a teaching certification in your province or territory. For example, if you live in Ontario and intend to teach in Alberta, completing your education and earning your certification in Alberta is essential. This is because Alberta's education and training programs specifically apply to becoming an educator in Alberta. After getting certified in one province, you have better chances of securing better job offers in that province. Earning a teaching certification can increase your qualifications and demonstrate your proficiency as an educator.

Related: ISFJ Careers: Find the Right Career for Your Personality

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salary figures may vary depending on a hiring organization and a candidate's experience, academic background, and location.

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