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Teachers have faced some uncertainty during the last few years of economic recession. Many school districts got a boost from federal stimulus funding, while others were forced to shed jobs due to cash-strapped city and state budgets. And public schools weren't the only ones facing challenges. Many private schools saw their endowments shrink during the lean years.
Now that the economy is on the mend, prospective teachers might be wondering whether the profession offers the kind of stability and growth they're looking for. New numbers out from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that some teaching jobs are poised for growth.
According to employment projections released in February, education, training and library occupations will add 1.4 million new jobs between 2010 and 2020, for a total growth of about 15.3 percent. (The average growth rate across all occupations is around 14 percent.)
That makes teaching, training and library services the sixth fastest-growing occupational group. Most of the jobs will be in public schools. However, growth will be faster in private schools, all the way from elementary school through the university level, the BLS notes. In addition, three types of teachers -- post-secondary teachers, elementary school teachers and teacher assistants -- made the list of the 30 fastest-growing jobs over the projections decade.
1. Post-secondary teachers
Number of new jobs added: 305,700
Growth rate: 17.4 percent
Median annual salary: $45,690
The BLS is projecting a significant bump in new jobs teaching at the post-secondary level ... as if the field didn't have enough perks (summers off, anyone?). Teachers at four-year universities typically divide their time between teaching, research and administrative duties, depending on how high they rank in the academic food chain. Full professors' schedules may tip more heavily toward research, for example, while graduate assistants may devote more time to teaching or lab work. Teachers at two-year or online schools typically focus more of their time on teaching or practical instruction.
2. Elementary school teachers, except special education
Number of new jobs added: 248,800
Growth rate: 16.8 percent
Median annual salary: $51,660
Special education is also a growing field, but elementary ed boasts a larger number of new jobs added. According to the BLS, the nearly 250,000 new teachers will be needed to accommodate rising population growth (which tends to boost enrollments at the primary and secondary levels).
3. Teacher assistants
Number of new jobs added: 191,100
Growth rate: 14.8 percent
Median annual salary: $23,220
Teacher assistants are in growing demand due in part to the rising numbers of students with special needs or limited English. Laws require schools to provide equal educational opportunities for all students, and classroom teachers often can't divide their attention fairly between their mainstream students and those who need extra instructions. Teacher assistants step into the breach, focusing on high-need kids as well as helping with other duties such as standardized testing preparation. According to the BLS' most recently available Occupational Employment Handbook, about 40 percent of teacher assistants work part time. That coupled with modest pay means that turnover tends to be high.
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