It’s important not to underestimate the breadth of the education sector—for, while teachers might be its most visible exponents, there are many other positions, from librarian to IT administrator, without which the sector couldn’t easily function. By recognising these other roles, it’s easier to properly evaluate whether or not a career in education and training might be for you.
Broadly speaking, education and training roles fall into two categories: teaching occupations (which we shall cover in brief, because they are more familiar) and other professional occupations (including administrative and support roles).
A common requirement across all teaching roles is that one possess a sincere interest in advocating for, and encouraging, the educational, creative, and personal development of students. This invariably involves earning their trust, respect, and attention, an exercise which will demand of your empathy, authority, strong communication skills, and the ability to inspire intellectual curiosity.
Preschool teachers are responsible for children aged three to five, who haven’t yet entered a primary school. They use different pedagogical methods to design and supervise activities that encourage young children to develop their gross motor skills, social and emotional skills, language ability, and creativity.
Kindergarten teachers aim to help children with their transition to primary school life. They provide students with a foundation by introducing them to basic skills in subjects like mathematics, language, art, science, and computer skills.
Primary school teachers generally lead one class for an entire year, allowing them to attend more closely to the individual educational and developmental needs of each child. They lead students through a curriculum that builds their knowledge of art, mathematics, science, the natural world, technology, and so on. It’s usually at this stage that parents make important decisions about the type of school their child will attend, whether it be a local public school, a private Rudolf Steiner or Montessori school, a Catholic school, or something else.
High school teachers often teach only one subject (such as English or PDHPE), or a cluster of closely related subjects (like geography and economics), supervising a class for several hours a week over the course of a year. They may also assist in the organisation and supervision of extracurricular activities, and provide students with advice on career paths, universities, and vocational degrees.
Special education teachers provide individualised support to students whose participation in traditional classes is complicated by physical, behavioural, or developmental challenges. While many works in traditional schools, providing complementary support as required, others work within schools dedicated to children who face more significant obstacles, such as blindness or disability.
Vocational education teachers often work in high schools, where they introduce students to trades like woodcraft and metalwork. Alternatively, they can work in TAFE institutes, instructing students in various career-oriented courses.
Academia is concerned with the pursuit of research, education and scholarship. Academics are people who work in this field, either as a teacher or researcher at a university or other higher education institution. They are typically people who study and analyse their area of specialisation before sharing their findings through teaching, publishing and participating in public discussions.
Counsellors help students navigate difficult personal experiences and also provide advice about careers, study skills, mental and physical health, and so on. They use tests and interviews to identify areas of aptitude for individual students and help them make decisions regarding university majors, HSC subjects, and work experience. Most counsellors have a background in education or psychology.
This is a broad term that encompasses both professionals working within schools and those employed by regulatory bodies, such as the federal Department of Education and Training or one of its state subsidiaries. Administrators provide leadership to educational institutions, designing curricula, hiring and training staff, managing relations with parents and community members, and establishing policies and procedures.
School administrators perform functions related to the functioning of individual schools (or other educational institutions). This includes preparing budgets, maintaining records, assisting teachers, and liaising with third parties to organise excursions, school activities (like sports carnivals and swimming competitions), and camps.
As in most other modern institutions, computers have become essential to the functioning of schools. They assist in administration and record-keeping, and also perform a vital educational function, with students introduced early to basic computer skills, such as word processing and safe internet usage. IT specialists are often employed by educational institutions to maintain IT infrastructure, troubleshoot any issues that arise, and manage internal networks.
Far more than mere organisers of books, librarians are trained to help students access information from a variety of sources, evaluate its credibility, and use it in appropriate educational, personal, and professional contexts. They are often responsible for a library budget, which they use to purchase resources, from CDs to novels intended to help stimulate students’ creative and educational development.
A principal is the chief educational administrator in a school and is usually appointed to his or her position by a school board, educational department, or superintendent. They are responsible for recruiting staff, monitoring performance, making executive decisions for the school, and enforcing discipline where appropriate.
As a principal is to a school, so is a dean to a university college—they provide leadership and direction to the academics who comprise a certain academic unit. Thus, there will ordinarily be a dean of arts, a dean of sciences, a dean of medicine, and so on. Their various responsibilities might include assessing tenure applications, advising on budgetary issues, awarding scholarships and academic prizes, implementing new academic policies. Importantly, they also oversee the relationship between their faculty and other academic units, allowing for cross-disciplinary initiatives, the coordination of timetables and exams, and overall consistency for students enrolled in multiple areas.