Teaching is one of the oldest professions, dating back to thousands of years. Of course, much has changed since then with education currently being a necessary public service. Many of us grew up dreaming to be just like our favorite teacher. Why not? Teaching is one of the most important professions for many reasons. Teachers prepare and influence tomorrow’s generation by providing support, motivation, inspiration, and knowledge among other things.
Come to think of it, teachers lay the foundation of knowledge across all subjects. For instance, students wouldn’t pursue writing if they never learned how to construct sentences, or aspire to be doctors if they never got the opportunity to find interest in their science classes, or wish to be politicians if they didn’t know the importance of government through their social studies classes. It goes without saying that the teaching profession is the fabric of our society.
Teaching is, however, not everyone’s cup of tea. It requires the patience of gold, the desire to help others reach their full potential, passion to work with children, problem-solving skills, and much more. If you can handle all that, without expecting much in terms of pay, then the teaching profession is worth considering.
Being a teacher has its ups and downs like any other career. Here are some of them to help you determine if teaching is the right profession for you:
10 Pros of being a teacher:
1 Ideal work hours
Teachers enjoy a consistent and friendly work schedule. The average school starts at around 7:30 am and ends by 3:00 or 4:00 pm, leaving evenings and weekends free. Most schools also have extended time off during the academic year, not to mention having summers off. This free time allows teachers to travel, spend quality time with friends and family, pursue advanced education, or simply rest at home. For those with kids, your work hours will match your child’s school hours, making it easy to save on childcare.
2 Daily excitement
While you may be repeating the same curriculum, you’ll realize that no two classes or school days are the same. The continuous change of variables: different students with unique personalities, lessons of the day, time of year, different joys and challenges, and daily discoveries, all combine to make this profession an engaging and interesting adventure. This also means you’re constantly thinking and ready to come up with a solution to any problem that may arise. They say that variety is the spice of life; well, with teaching you’ll never be bored.
3 The opportunity to make a real difference
Children are born as blank slates; as such, teachers at every level of education can write, design, and shape their minds, which will influence the future world. As a teacher, you’re also a mentor, a friend, and a confidant. You get to interact with students from all walks of life and at different stages of their lives. Some will enter your classroom and you’ll be the only one who encourages them and believes in their abilities. You have the potential to change their lives for the better. The profound impact teachers make on their students, and the society at large, cannot be overemphasized.
4 Plenty of benefits
The issue of teachers’ wages is a bit controversial. Teachers’ unions complain that teachers make very little, while some political interests claim that they get paid well enough. One thing’s for sure, teachers receive plenty of benefits. This includes sick time and vacation pay that can be taken during the school year, healthcare insurance that’s above what other professionals receive, good pension packages, and much more.
5 Job satisfaction
Teachers hold their students’ futures in their hands. By preparing your students to make their way into the adult world, you can benefit your community and the world at large. There can be a great deal of satisfaction in knowing that you are contributing positively to society.
6 Teachers are in high demand
Teaching is one job that’s never going anywhere. Job growth for this profession is set to increase by 12% in the next decade. Demand will be greatest for those with expertise in special education, STEM education, and bilingual education. Being a teacher gives you access to multiple job opportunities anywhere in the world. For instance, expats looking to work abroad as teachers will find several special programs that offer training such as TEFL programs.
7 It offers job security with tenure
If you’re thinking of joining the teaching profession, you don’t have to worry about job security. Regardless of the government budget cuts, temporary economic conditions, or hiring practices, the need for teachers is universal and timeless. In fact, teaching was one of the most secure careers during the great recession. Once you’ve landed a job as a teacher, you’ll be tenured. Not many professions (if any) come with such a perk.
8 Lifelong learning
Continued learning is one of the biggest requirements for today’s workers. It allows one to adjust to the constant changes in culture and technology around us. Trends in the education sector are constantly changing. You need to stay up-to-date with the latest knowledge in your field to better help students to learn. Teaching also exposes you to dispute resolution, child psychology, the best practices in education, and several other areas of study. All this learning allows for intellectual stimulation.
9 A sense of accomplishment
The best part of being a teacher is seeing your student(s) succeed. You meet students with different strengths, beliefs, weaknesses, and backgrounds. That moment when they finally understand what you’ve been teaching makes the job worthwhile. You can see on their faces that you’ve managed to open a door in their mind that would otherwise have remained closed. These moments of epiphany are possible every day, which is what real teachers teach for!
10 Change the Future of Education
Teachers have the opportunity to improve the quality of education. There’s a lot to be done, but it requires the collective efforts of dedicated teachers. Exceptional teachers are often asked to mentor other staff members, which offers them an opportunity to share their expertise and wisdom. As you work alongside many qualified educators, you can create a vibrant community of educators by fostering an environment of professionalism, creativity, and sharing.
10 Cons of being a teacher:
1 Relatively low pay
Although the pay is steady and reliable, it doesn’t rise above the average salaries of other important careers. The hard work and dedication teachers have in and outside the classroom isn’t reflected in their paycheck. In countries where expat teachers are paid well, salaries start from $35,000-75,000 a year. It’s not unusual for local first-time teachers to make less than $30,000 a year. Many teachers are forced to find jobs over the summer or do part-time work during the school year to supplement their meager salaries.
A teacher’s job is not confined to when school is in session. As every teacher knows, your work starts way before class is in session and continues after it ends. You have to plan your lessons, find the right materials for learning, and think of ways to make the lesson engaging and interesting. After class, you have to grade papers, review homework, attend after-school meetings, prepare for the next lesson, and even attend professional developments in the summers.
Politics have a huge impact on the education sector at all levels. Political decisions on education are often made with budget slashes in mind, which ends up affecting how effectively schools are run. This, unfortunately, is done without seeking input from the teachers themselves. Workplace politics are also hard to get past. The decisions made by the administration may not be right for your students. These things make a teacher’s life more difficult than it needs to be.
Being a teacher comes with surprisingly too much stress. Teachers are expected to cover the huge syllabus within a stipulated amount of time. The necessity to meet deadlines often creates tensions and pressure, which in turn causes stress. Having to deal with students (especially if they’re troublemakers), parents, other teachers, and the administration, all in one day, can also be quite stressful.
5 Behavioral management
There are always a couple of problematic students in every class. Such students are unruly, disrespectful to the teachers and their fellow students, don’t really care about what you have to teach, and don’t complete any assignments. While it’s your job to find a way to get through to them, sometimes you have no choice but to let go. This can be the hardest part of being a teacher.
6 Lack of support from the parents/guardians
One of the biggest challenges you’ll face as a teacher is the lack of parental cooperation. Some parents are not involved in their kid’s academic life, which makes it quite difficult for you to do your job effectively. Even worse, some complaint about the choices you make, blame you for their child’s poor grades and go as far as bullying you into changing grades. All this doesn’t make your teaching job easy.
7 Working too many roles
Teachers meet students with different challenges, including orphans, those from poor homes, some who have been abused, and so on. In addition to teaching, being a counselor, confidant, psycho-educator, and social worker, are some of the hats that a teacher is expected to wear throughout the day. They feel obligated to adopt these roles, even though they don’t have proper training, to help their students. This can weigh heavily on a teacher’s emotional well-being.
While there are no dull moments in the classroom, part of being a teacher is getting used to a routine. You’ll need to have lesson plans and schedules, which might seem comforting at first but get boring after a while. Teachers need to get creative and look for ways to stay motivated once they learn their lessons and schedules by heart.
Teaching takes a lot of hard work, determination, patience, and lots of hours. Most teachers arrive at school early, leave late, and spend their weekends planning lessons and grading papers. They also have to attend different kinds of school functions, including extracurricular activities and parent-teacher conferences. This, together with the stress of managing many students, behavioral issues, increased workload, and work-life balance, puts teachers at risk of burnout. This is where they slowly begin to lose their passion for teaching and decrease their performance levels.
Despite being an important profession, teaching has recently gotten less prestigious. Most millennials view it as a profession for the average person. Teachers are also undervalued financially as they are paid less for long working hours. Teachers also feel unappreciated by their administrations, and most find them unsupportive, rude, disrespectful, and uncaring. All these negative stigmas surrounding the teaching profession might begin to beat you down.
About the author: Marta Kovachek is the author of this article. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a master’s degree in Economics. Marta enjoys writing about the current economic situation and loves helping our readers to find their next "destination". From places to live to complex social and economic topics, we always enjoy Marta's work. Please contact us in case of any questions.