Teaching Jobs and Job Security


One of the quips about the liberal arts education is that we only learn things that don’t apply to the real world.

A liberal arts degree might allow us to find another job in business or law or the public sector, but the liberal arts degree is most geared towards being an educator. For example, everyone at Whitman must read “The Odyssey” for Core, but after college, we will likely never read “The Odyssey” again . . . unless we become a teacher.

“The Odyssey’s” poetry and imagery might not have much use in our daily lives, but if you love Homer and Classics, who cares? In our tiny liberal arts college we are all trying to find a subject that will ignite the passion within us. Maybe, math, chemistry, classics, literature or Spanish. And if you are one of the people lucky enough to find that passion in our lives, what better thing to do than to teach it for a living. And if it turns out that you love teaching why not go for it.

Ideally teaching would be a profession where you could pursue your passion, indulge your intellectual curiosity, share it with pupils, and live a life of the mind. Unfortunately, the current recession shows the uglier side of teaching.

According to Cleveland.com, teaching is one of the public sector jobs that is the worst hit. For example 68% of public school districts have eliminated or will eliminate current teaching positions this year, and most expect to do so again next year.

The recession doesn’t just affect job availability for public schools. The loss of so many public teaching positions creates a net loss in teaching professions. But what does that mean?

In short, it makes it harder to find any teaching jobs. When teachers are cut from public teaching positions, that does two things, it puts more unemployed educators out in search of jobs and it decreases the overall amount of teaching positions in America. Because that is the case, more people will vie for PhD programs to boost their qualifications and likelihood of future employment. Also, more people will apply for jobs in private colleges and private K-12 schools. So a cut in public teachers not only affects public teaching, but it increases competition in anything a teacher might apply for.

In 2006, 8% of teachers were worried about their job security; the current number is 34%. This shows that job security for teachers fluctuates with the American economy’s boom and bust cycles.

For those seeking teaching purely for job security, remember that the road to tenure is treacherous and fraught with peril. Overall, if you love it, go for it. But, be wary about the ups and downs with teaching.