One of the wonderful things about education is the wealth of career options within the field. While teaching is probably the most well known education-related career path, the modern world has increased exponentially the number and breadth of jobs in the field. Also, there is a growing understanding that learning and educating continue long after K-12 schooling, further increasing the number of job opportunities available. Listed below are some of the more common career paths in education, but there are many more that could be included, such as educational technology, community engagement, and service-learning. If you would like to learn more about any of the options listed below or if you have questions about a career path that is not listed, you are welcome to contact Ashley Schaefer, the Lawrence S. Pidgeon Director of Grinnell Careers in Education Professions, at Schaefer[at]grinnell[dot]edu or (641) 269-9317.
K-12 Teaching and Administration in the USA
Grinnell College has a long history of producing amazing teachers who often become leaders in both their schools and the field. Students interested in teaching have a number of options to help them gain the appropriate certification. The three options listed below are the most common methods of achieving licensure, although they are not the only options available to gain a teaching position. Current and former students who are searching for a teaching position should explore the positions posted on PioneerLink.
Grinnell College’s 9th-Semester Teacher Education Program began in 1990 as a method for allowing Grinnell students to complete their student teaching experience during an extra (9th) semester after graduation. Students can receive endorsements in a variety of subject areas through the Licensure Program, although at present students can only earn licensure to teach grades 5-12. For more information about the requirements for Grinnell’s 9th-Semester Licensure program, please visit the Teacher Education Program page on the Education Department’s website or contact Department Chair Jean Ketter at Ketter[at]grinnell[dot]edu.
Alternative Certification Programs
Students who were unable to complete or participate in the Teacher Education Program before graduation have a number of options for earning licensure after leaving Grinnell. The options listed below are just a small sampling of the alternative certification programs available. Please attend one of the regularly-held workshops on alternative certification or contact Ashley Schaefer at Schaefer[at]grinnell[dot]edu for more alternative certification options.
Teach for America: Historically, the most popular option for Grinnellians interested in teaching but who lack licensure has been Teach for America. Teach for America, often referred to as “TFA,” is an alternative certification program focused on education policy and educational outreach into low-income urban and rural communities. Grinnell consistently has ranked as one of the top producers of Teach for America recruits by a liberal arts institution. Grinnell students interested in working with at-risk students but who only wish to teach for a few years might consider TFA as a good option.
Urban Teaching Residency Programs: Other models for teacher licensure, such as Urban Teacher Residency (UTRU) programs, are becoming quite popular. UTRUs, as they are often called, are modeled after the traditional medical residency. Students in these programs spend a year in an urban classroom with a master teacher before independently teaching in that same district for the next two years while also earning a master’s degree. To learn more about Urban Teaching Residency Program locations and requirements please visit the UTRU Network page.
City Year: Students interested in working in an urban classroom environment but who are not interested in acting as the lead teacher might be interested in pursuing a position with City Year. City Year aides work closely with at-risk students to help keep them in school, provide extra tutoring to improve students’ academic performance, and play a supportive role in the classroom. Students interested in City Year may also choose to take a gap-year experience in order to work in the program before graduation.
Blue Engine: Blue Engine is a newer program, primarily located in East Coast schools. The Blue Engine model places each teacher in a classroom with four “Betas” who provide extra support, instruction, and care for the students in the class. By having the Betas in the classroom, student-to-teacher ratios are generally very small, giving at-risk students a more personal rapport with their teachers. Grinnell students interested in becoming Betas should review the Blue Engine website and speak to alums of the program for further information.
Master of Arts in Teaching
Students who plan to teach in a state that requires a master’s degree as part of licensure might wish to pursue a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) degree after graduation. MAT programs are extremely common and students can earn their MAT either through an on-campus program, online, or through a hybrid option. For more information about MAT programs and other graduate programs, attend one of the “Education Graduate School Information Sessions” held each semester or contact Ashley Schaefer at Schaefer[at]grinnell[dot]edu.
Teaching abroad is a great option for students interested in teaching and who also wish to gain more experience in an international setting. While there are a number of international schools that are willing to hire American college students immediately after graduation without the support of a program or any teaching experience, it is recommended (especially for students who do not speak the native language or have not visited the country previously) to secure an international teaching position through a recognized program. Legitimate and recommended programs are more likely to provide housing, health care, and support through the transition to teaching internationally at little to no cost to the student. Some popular options for teaching abroad are listed below. For an expanded list of options, please attend one of the regularly held workshops on teaching internationally or contact Ashley Schaefer at Schaefer[at]grinnell[dot]edu.
Fulbright English Teaching Assistantships
Fulbright ETAs offer students the chance to act as English Teaching Assistants in a foreign country. Students can teach in positions at a range of grade levels and can apply to their countries of choice. For more information about Fulbright Fellowships, contact Doug Cutchins, Assistant Dean and Director of Post-Graduate Transitions at the Center for Careers, Life, and Service at Cutchins[at]grinnell[dot]edu or (641) 269-4408.
The Japan Exchange and Teaching Program offers students the chance to teach in schools throughout Japan while exploring Japanese culture and building relationships with the communities in which they teach.
English Program in Korea (EPIK) provides students with the chance to teach English in Korea and to learn more about Korean life, culture, and educational systems.
Princeton-in-Asia provides students from selective institutions the chance to teach in a number of Asian countries. Students with previous travel experience in particular are encouraged to apply.
For more information about teaching abroad in general, please visit the links below:
- Spotlight on Careers: Education-Teaching Overseas
- TESOL Career Services Placement Bulletin
- Teflnet: Frequently Asked Questions about Jobs Teaching English
- ESL Focus
K-12 school districts are focusing more efforts and funding toward ensuring their students’ mental health, which means that the number of counseling positions will continue to grow in the coming years. Grinnell students interested in pursuing a career as a school guidance counselor or as a school psychologist at any grade level will need to attend graduate school. For more information, please attend one of the “Beyond Teaching: Education-Related Graduate School Programs” workshops held each semester or contact Ashley Schaefer, the Lawrence S. Pidgeon Director of Grinnell Careers in Education Professions, at Schaefer[at]grinnell[dot]edu or (641) 269-9317.
Library and Information Sciences
The Library and Information Sciences field is evolving rapidly with technological innovations that are changing the way information is stored and retrieved. Although the structure of modern libraries is changing, the need for specialists to help catalogue, manage, and access information has not decreased. To learn more about library science, please visit the Spotlight on Careers Library Science page.
Higher Education Administration
Grinnell students who enjoyed serving as SA’s, Wellness Coordinators, SGA members, or who had work-study positions in various campus offices might be interested in pursuing a Master’s Degree in Higher Education Administration after graduation. Working at a college campus can be very rewarding, and given the breadth of higher education (private institutions, community colleges, research institutions), there are many different career options available. To learn more about graduate programs in Higher Education Administration, please attend one of the “Beyond Teaching: Education-Related Graduate School Programs” workshops held each semester or contact Ashley Schaefer, the Lawrence S. Pidgeon Director of Grinnell Careers in Education Professions, at Schaefer[at]grinnell[dot]edu or (641) 269-9317.
The number of education-related non-profit organizations throughout the country is growing rapidly. Organizations focused on increasing college access for at-risk, low-income, urban students are particularly popular. There are non-profits focusing on just about every aspect of education; students can choose to apply to the operational side of non-profits or participate in service-related positions. Some non-profit educational organizations will also post positions on PioneerLink for interested students. The number of education-related non-profit organizations throughout the country is growing rapidly. Organizations focused on increasing college access for at-risk, low-income, urban students are particularly popular. There are non-profits focusing on just about every aspect of education; students can choose to apply to the operational side of non-profits or participate in service-related positions. Some non-profit educational organizations will also post positions on PioneerLink for interested students.