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Advantages & Disadvantages of Becoming a Teacher

by Neil Kokemuller

Teaching is generally regarded as an admirable profession. You have the chance to influence students academically and personally over the course of each school year and your career. However, before going to college for an education degree, it is important to weigh the positives of a teaching career against the drawbacks.

Public Service

Teachers generally provide a public service. Most directly, they educate students and influence future generations of adults. For many teachers, this is the lure of the profession. Indirectly, the collective efforts of teachers support the growth and development of society and local economies. The ability to use acquired knowledge and teaching talents to help develop young people is also rewarding for some teachers. Serving in a parent-teacher association, as a coach, club adviser or education association member are other ways to benefit the community.

Stability and Balance

Teaching is a very stable career. The educational system is always in place and each year teachers that retire must be replaced. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also projected a 17 percent growth rate for teachers from 2010 to 2020, in line with averages in all professions. Public school teachers often enjoy strong benefits programs as well, including health insurance and retirement plans. Teacher unions, which are common, help insulate teachers from some of the risks of termination professionals in business and industry face.

Low Pay

Teacher pay is notoriously low compared to similarly-educated peers working in business and industry careers. While pay varies by school district, grade level and the teacher's education, the Bureau noted a median annual salary of $51,380 per year for elementary teachers as of May 2010. Teachers must hold at least a bachelor's degree and modest pay raises typically result only from increased education or experience. Teachers also commonly struggle with limited budgets and supply resources in many school districts.

Social Demands

Teachers can't afford the luxury of an off-day. During the typical seven to eight hour school day, you must communicate effectively and intelligently to students. Your ability to do so not only impacts the educational experience of students, but also the general respect you earn in classroom management. Before, during and after classes, you also have formal and informal meetings and interactions with administrators, other faculty and staff. Even the lighter conversations in the break room require some mental and emotional effort.

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