* Nature of the Industry
* Working Conditions
* Occupations In The Industry
* Training and Advancement
* Sources of Additional Information
* With about 1 in 4 Americans enrolled in educational institutions, educational services is the second largest industry, accounting for about 13.3 million jobs.
* Most teaching positions, which constitute almost half of all educational services jobs, require at least a bachelor’s degree, and some require a master’s or doctoral degree.
* Retirements in a number of education professions will create many job openings.
Nature of the Industry [About this section] Back to TopBack to Top
Goods and services. Education is an important part of life. The amount and type of education that individuals receive are a major influence on both the types of jobs they are able to hold and their earnings. Lifelong learning is important in acquiring new knowledge and upgrading one’s skills, particularly in this age of rapid technological and economic changes. The educational services industry includes a variety of institutions that offer academic education, vocational or career and technical instruction, and other education and training to millions of students each year.
Industry organization. Because school attendance is compulsory until at least age 16 in all 50 States and the District of Columbia, elementary, middle, and secondary schools are the most numerous of all educational establishments. They provide academic instruction to students in kindergarten through grade 12 in a variety of settings, including public schools, parochial schools, boarding and other private schools, and military academies. Some secondary schools offer a mixture of academic and career and technical instruction.
Postsecondary institutions—universities, colleges, professional schools, community or junior colleges, and career and technical institutes—provide education and training in both academic and technical subjects for high school graduates and other adults. Universities offer bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees, while colleges generally offer only the bachelor’s degree. Professional schools offer graduate degrees in fields such as law, medicine, business administration, and engineering. The undergraduate bachelor’s degree typically requires 4 years of study, while graduate degrees require additional years of study. Community and junior colleges and technical institutes offer associate degrees, certificates, or other diplomas, usually involving 2 years of study or less. Career and technical schools provide specialized training and services primarily related to a specific job. They include computer and cosmetology training institutions, business and secretarial schools, correspondence schools, and establishments that offer certificates in commercial art and practical nursing.
This industry also includes institutions that provide training, consulting, and other support services to schools and students, such as curriculum development, student exchanges, and tutoring. Also included are schools or programs that offer nonacademic or self-enrichment classes, such as automobile driving and cooking instruction, among others.
Recent developments. In recent decades, the Nation has focused attention on the educational system because of the growing importance of producing a trained and educated workforce. Many institutions, including government, private industry, and research organizations, are involved in improving the quality of education. The passage of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 established Federal guidelines to ensure that all students in public elementary through secondary schools receive a high-quality education. Through this act, individual States are given more flexibility on how to spend the educational funds they are allocated. In return, the Act requires standardized testing of all students in core subject areas. In this manner, students, teachers, and all staff involved in education are held accountable for the results of testing, and teachers and teacher assistants must demonstrate that they are sufficiently qualified in the subjects or areas in which they teach. States are responsible for following these guidelines and can lose Federal funding if the standards are not met. Despite the increased Federal role, State and local governments are still the most important regulators of public education. Many States had already begun to introduce performance standards individually prior to passage of the Act, and the Act still allows States a considerable amount of discretion in how they implement many of its provisions.
In an effort to promote innovation in public education, many local and State governments have authorized the creation of public charter schools, in the belief that, by presenting students and their parents with a greater range of instructional options, schools and students will be encouraged to strive for excellence. Charter schools, which usually are run by teachers and parents or, increasingly, by private firms, operate independently of the school system, set their own standards, and practice a variety of innovative teaching methods. Businesses strive to improve education by donating instructional equipment, lending personnel for teaching and mentoring, hosting visits to the workplace, and providing job-shadowing and internship opportunities. Businesses also collaborate with educators to develop curricula that will provide students with the skills they need to cope with new technology in the workplace.
Quality improvements also are being made to career and technical education at secondary and postsecondary schools. Academics are playing a more important role in career and technical curricula, and programs are being made more relevant to the local job market. Often, students must meet rigorous standards, set in consultation with private industry, before receiving a certificate or degree. Career and technical students in secondary school programs must pass the same standardized tests in core subject areas as students who are enrolled in academic programs of study. A growing number of career and technical programs emphasize general workplace skills, such as problem solving, teamwork, and customer service. Many high schools now offer technical preparatory (“tech-prep”) programs, which are developed jointly by high schools and community colleges to provide a continuous course of study leading to an associate degree or other postsecondary credential.
Computer technology continues to affect the education industry. Computers simplify administrative tasks and make it easier to track student performance. Teachers use the Internet in classrooms as well as to communicate with colleagues around the country; students use the Internet for research projects. Distance learning continues to expand as more postsecondary institutions use Internet-based technology to conduct lessons and coursework electronically, allowing students in distant locations access to educational opportunities formerly available only on campus.
Despite these improvements in quality, problems remain. High school completion rates remain low, particularly for minority students, and employers contend that numerous high school graduates still lack many of the math and communication skills needed in today’s workplace. School budgets often are not sufficient to meet the institution’s various goals, particularly in the inner cities, where aging facilities and chronic teacher shortages make educating children more difficult.
Working Conditions [About this section] Back to TopBack to Top
Hours. Elementary and secondary schools generally operate 10 months a year, but summer sessions for special education or remedial students are common. In addition, education administrators, office and administrative support workers, and janitors and cleaners often work the entire year. Postsecondary institutions operate year-round, but may have reduced offerings during summer months. Institutions that cater to adult students, and those that offer educational support services such as tutoring, generally operate year-round as well. Night and weekend work is common for teachers of adult literacy and remedial and self-enrichment education, for postsecondary teachers, and for library workers in postsecondary institutions. Part-time work is common for this same group of teachers, as well as for teacher assistants and school bus drivers. The latter often work a split shift, driving one or two routes in the morning and afternoon; drivers who are assigned to drive students on field trips, to athletic and other extracurricular activities, or to midday kindergarten programs work additional hours during or after school. Many teachers spend significant time outside of school preparing for class, doing administrative tasks, conducting research, writing articles and books, and pursuing advanced degrees.
Work environment. Elementary and secondary school conditions often vary from town to town. Some schools in poorer neighborhoods may be rundown, have few supplies and equipment, and lack air conditioning. Other schools may be new and well equipped and maintained. Conditions at postsecondary institutions are generally very good. Regardless of the type of conditions facing elementary and secondary schools, seeing students develop and enjoy learning can be rewarding for teachers and other education workers. However, dealing with unmotivated students or those with social or behavioral problems can be stressful and require patience and understanding.
Despite occurrences of violence in some schools, the educational services industry is relatively safe. There were 2.3 cases of occupational injury and illness per 100 full-time workers in private educational establishments in 2006, compared with 4.4 in all industries combined.
Employment [About this section] Back to TopBack to Top
The educational services industry was the second largest industry in the economy in 2006, providing jobs for about 13.3 million workers—about 13.2 million wage and salary workers, and 195,000 self-employed and unpaid family workers. Most jobs are found in elementary and secondary schools, either public or private, as shown in table 1. Public schools employ more workers than private schools because most students attend public educational institutions. According to the latest data from the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, close to 90 percent of students attend public primary and secondary schools, and about 75 percent attend public postsecondary institutions.
Table 1. Distribution of wage and salary employment in educational services by industry, 2006
(Employment in thousands) Industry Employment Percent
Educational services, public and private, total
Elementary and secondary schools
Junior colleges, colleges, universities, and professional schools
Colleges, universities, and professional schools
Other educational services
Other schools and instruction
Technical and trade schools
Educational support services
Business schools and computer and management training
Occupations in the Industry [About this section] Back to TopBack to Top
Workers in the educational services industry take part in all aspects of education, from teaching and counseling students to driving school buses and serving cafeteria lunches. Although 2 out of 3 workers in educational services are employed in professional and related occupations, the industry also employs many administrative support, managerial, service, and other workers. (See table 2.)
Teaching occupations. Teachers account for almost half of all workers in the industry. Their duties depend on the age group and subject they teach, as well as on the type of institution in which they work. Teachers should have a sincere interest in helping students and should also have the ability to inspire respect, trust, and confidence. Strong speaking and writing skills, inquiring and analytical minds, and a desire to pursue and disseminate knowledge are vital prerequisites for teachers.
Preschool, kindergarten, and elementary school teachers play a critical role in the early development of children. They usually instruct one class in a variety of subjects, introducing the children to mathematics, language, science, and social studies. Often, they use games, artwork, music, computers, and other tools to teach basic skills.
Middle and secondary school teachers help students delve more deeply into subjects introduced in elementary school. Middle and secondary school teachers specialize in a specific academic subject, such as English, mathematics, or history, or a career and technical area, such as automobile mechanics, business education, or computer repair. Some supervise after-school extracurricular activities, and some help students deal with academic problems, such as choosing courses, colleges, and careers.
Special education teachers work with students—from toddlers to those in their early twenties—who have a variety of learning and physical disabilities. While most work in traditional schools and assist those students who require extra support, some work in schools specifically designed to serve students with the most severe disabilities. With all but the most severe cases, special education teachers modify the instruction of the general education curriculum and, when necessary, develop alternative assessment methods to accommodate a student’s special needs. They also help special education students develop emotionally, feel comfortable in social situations, and be aware of socially acceptable behavior.
Postsecondary teachers, or faculty, as they are usually called, generally are organized into departments or divisions, based on their subject or field. They teach and advise college students and perform a significant part of our Nation’s research. They prepare lectures, exercises, and laboratory experiments; grade exams and papers; and advise and work with students individually. Postsecondary teachers keep abreast of developments in their field by reading current literature, talking with colleagues and businesses, and participating in professional conferences. They also consult with government, business, nonprofit, and community organizations. In addition, they do their own research to expand knowledge in their field, often publishing their findings in scholarly journals, books, and electronic media.
Adult literacy and remedial education teachers teach English to speakers of other languages (ESOL), prepare sessions for the General Educational Development (GED) exam, and give basic instruction to out-of-school youths and adults. Self-enrichment teachers teach classes that students take for personal enrichment, such as cooking or dancing.
Other professional occupations. Education administrators provide vision, direction, leadership, and day-to-day management of educational activities in schools, colleges and universities, businesses, correctional institutions, museums, and job training and community service organizations. They set educational standards and goals and aid in establishing the policies and procedures to carry them out. They develop academic programs; monitor students’ educational progress; hire, train, motivate, and evaluate teachers and other staff; manage counseling and other student services; administer recordkeeping; prepare budgets; and handle relations with staff, parents, current and prospective students, employers, and the community.
Instructional coordinators evaluate school curricula and recommend changes to them. They research the latest teaching methods, textbooks, and other instructional materials and coordinate and provide training to teachers. They also coordinate equipment purchases and assist in the use of new technology in schools.
Educational, vocational, and school counselors work at the elementary, middle, secondary, and postsecondary school levels and help students evaluate their abilities, talents, and interests so that the students can develop realistic academic and career options. Using interviews, counseling sessions, tests, and other methods, secondary school counselors also help students understand and deal with their social, behavioral, and personal problems. They advise on college majors, admission requirements, and entrance exams and on trade, technical school, and apprenticeship programs. Elementary school counselors do more social and personal counseling and less career and academic counseling than do secondary school counselors. School counselors may work with students individually or in small groups, or they may work with entire classes.
Librarians help people find information and learn how to use it effectively in their scholastic, personal, and professional pursuits. Librarians manage library staff and develop and direct information programs and systems for the public, as well as oversee the selection and organization of library materials. Library technicians help librarians acquire, prepare, and organize material; direct library users to standard references; and retrieve information from computer databases. Clerical library assistants check out and receive library materials, collect overdue fines, and shelve materials.
Teacher assistants, also called teacher aides or instructional aides, provide instructional and clerical support for classroom teachers, allowing the teachers more time to plan lessons and to teach. Using the teacher’s lesson plans, they provide students with individualized attention, tutoring and assisting children—particularly special education and non-English speaking students—in learning class material. Assistants also aid and supervise students in the cafeteria, in the schoolyard, in hallways, or on field trips. They record grades, set up equipment, and prepare materials for instruction.
Other occupations. The educational services industry employs many other workers who are found in a wide range of occupations. This industry employs many office and administrative support workers such as secretaries, administrative assistants, and general office clerks. They also employ many school bus drivers, who transport students to and from schools and related activities.
Table 2. Employment of wage and salary workers in educational services by occupation, 2006 and projected change, 2006-2016.
(Employment in thousands) Occupation Employment, 2006 Percent
13,152 100.0 10.7
Management, business, and financial occupations
822 6.3 11.3
Education administrators, elementary and secondary school
213 1.6 7.5
Education administrators, postsecondary
125 1.0 14.4
Professional and related occupations
8,870 67.4 12.7
199 1.5 15.7
Clinical, counseling, and school psychologists
46 0.4 6.9
Educational, vocational, and school counselors
190 1.4 10.3
Child, family, and school social workers
40 0.3 7.4
1,627 12.4 22.9
Preschool teachers, except special education
70 0.5 16.0
Kindergarten teachers, except special education
158 1.2 15.9
Elementary school teachers, except special education
1,499 11.4 13.4
Middle school teachers, except special and vocational education
650 4.9 11.1
Secondary school teachers, except special and vocational education
1,027 7.8 5.5
Vocational education teachers, secondary school
94 0.7 -4.9
Special education teachers, preschool, kindergarten, and elementary school
205 1.6 18.9
Special education teachers, middle school
100 0.8 16.0
Special education teachers, secondary school
133 1.0 8.1
Adult literacy, remedial education, and GED teachers and instructors
61 0.5 11.7
Self-enrichment education teachers
99 0.8 23.1
95 0.7 3.9
90 0.7 22.8
1,086 8.3 6.5
Coaches and scouts
117 0.9 15.0
86 0.7 13.2
53 0.4 6.2
1,402 10.7 7.3
63 0.5 8.7
Cooks, institution and cafeteria
138 1.1 -3.7
Fast food and counter workers
172 1.3 8.2
Janitors and cleaners, except maids and housekeeping cleaners
469 3.6 7.2
Child care workers
135 1.0 17.6
Office and administrative support occupations
1,480 11.3 3.0
Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks
95 0.7 9.9
Library assistants, clerical
43 0.3 2.9
Secretaries and administrative assistants
580 4.4 1.6
Office clerks, general
369 2.8 8.8
Installation, maintenance, and repair occupations
165 1.3 8.7
Maintenance and repair workers, general
105 0.8 8.6
Transportation and material moving occupations
295 2.2 5.5
Bus drivers, school
251 1.9 5.5
Note: Columns may not add to totals due to omission of occupations with small employment
Training and Advancement [About this section] Back to TopBack to Top
The educational services industry employs some of the most highly educated workers in the labor force. Almost 2 in 3 employees have at least a bachelor’s degree, which is required for nearly all professional occupations. Many professional occupations also require a master’s degree or doctorate, particularly for jobs at postsecondary institutions or in administration.
Teaching occupations. Kindergarten, elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers in public schools must have a bachelor’s degree and complete an approved teacher training program, with a prescribed number of subject and education credits, as well as supervised practice teaching. All States require public school teachers to be licensed; however, licensure requirements vary by State. Many States offer alternative licensure programs for people who have bachelor’s degrees in the subject they will teach, but lack the education courses required for a regular license. Certain teacher occupations require additional specific training: special education teachers need either a master’s degree in special education or some other form of specialized training in the subject, while vocational education teachers often need work experience in their field.
Teachers in private elementary, middle, and secondary schools do not have to meet State licensing standards; however, schools prefer candidates who have a bachelor’s degree in the subject they intend to teach for secondary school teachers, or in childhood education for elementary school teachers. They seek candidates among recent college graduates as well as from those who have established careers in other fields. Private schools affiliated with religious institutions also desire candidates who share the values that are important to the institution.
With additional education or certification, teachers may become school librarians, reading specialists, curriculum specialists, or guidance counselors. Some teachers advance to administrative or supervisory positions—such as instructional coordinator, assistant principal, or principal—but the number of these jobs is limited. In some school systems, highly qualified, experienced elementary and secondary school teachers can become senior or mentor teachers, with higher pay and additional responsibilities.
Postsecondary teachers who teach at 4-year colleges and universities generally must have a doctoral or other terminal degree for full-time, tenure-track employment, and usually also for part-time teaching at these institutions as well, though a master’s degree is sometimes sufficient. At 2-year colleges, however, most positions are held by teachers with a master’s degree. Most faculty members are hired as instructors or assistant professors and may advance to associate professor and full professor. Some faculty may also advance to administrative and managerial positions, such as department chairperson, dean, or president. At some institutions, these positions are temporary, with the holder returning to the faculty of their department after a set term.
Other professional occupations. School counselors are required to hold State school counseling certification; however, certification procedures vary from State to State. A master’s degree is generally required, and some States also require public school counselors to have teaching certificates and a number of years of teaching experience in addition to a counseling certificate. Experienced school counselors may advance to a larger school; become directors or supervisors of counseling, guidance, or student personnel services; or, with further graduate education, become counseling psychologists or school administrators.
Training requirements for education administrators depend on where they work. Principals, assistant principals, and other school administrators in school districts usually have held a teaching or related job before entering administration, and they generally need a master’s or doctoral degree in education administration or educational supervision, as well as State teacher certification. At postsecondary institutions, academic deans usually have a doctorate in their specialty. Other administrators can begin with a bachelor’s degree, but generally will need a master’s or doctorate to advance to top positions. In addition to climbing up the administrative ladder, advancement is also possible by transferring to larger schools or school systems.
Training requirements for teacher assistants range from a high school diploma to an associate degree. The No Child Left Behind Act mandates that all teacher assistants working in schools that receive Title I funds either have a minimum of 2 years of postsecondary education or an associate degree, or pass a State approved examination. Districts that assign teaching responsibilities to teacher assistants usually have higher training requirements than those that do not. Teacher assistants who obtain a bachelor’s degree, usually in education, may become certified teachers.
Librarians normally need a master’s degree in library science. Many States require school librarians to be licensed as teachers and to have taken courses in library science. Experienced librarians may advance to administrative positions, such as department head, library director, or chief information officer. Training requirements for library technicians range from a high school diploma to specialized postsecondary training; a high school diploma is sufficient for library assistants. Library workers can advance—from assistant, to technician, to librarian—with experience and the required formal education. School bus drivers need a commercial driver’s license and have limited opportunities for advancement; some become supervisors or dispatchers.
Outlook [About this section] Back to TopBack to Top
Greater numbers of children and adults enrolled in all types of schools will generate employment growth in this industry. A large number of retirements will add additional job openings and create good job prospects for many of those seeking work in educational services.
Employment change. Wage and salary employment growth of 11 percent is expected in the educational services industry over the 2006-16 period, comparable to the 11 percent increase projected for all industries combined. Over the long-term, the overall demand for workers in educational services will increase as a result of a growing emphasis on improving education and making it available not only to more children and young adults, but also to those currently employed and in need of improving their skills. Much of the demand for educational services is driven by growth in the population of students at each level. Low enrollment growth projections at the elementary, middle, and secondary school level are likely to limit growth somewhat, resulting in average growth for these teachers. However, reforms, such as universal preschool and all-day kindergarten, will require more preschool and kindergarten teachers.
Among other workers in primary and secondary education, the number of special education teachers is projected to experience faster than average growth through 2016 due to continued emphasis on the inclusion of disabled students in general education classrooms and an effort to reach students with problems at younger ages. Employment of teacher assistants will grow about as fast as the average. School reforms calling for more individual attention to students will require additional teacher assistants, particularly to work with special education and English-as-a-second-language students.
Enrollments are expected to grow at a faster rate in postsecondary institutions as more high school graduates attend college and as more working adults return to school to enhance or update their skills. As a result, employment of postsecondary teachers is expected to experience much faster than average growth.
Despite expected increases in education expenditures over the next decade, budget constraints at all levels of government may place restrictions on educational services, particularly in light of the rapidly escalating costs associated with increased college enrollments, special education, construction of new schools, and other services. Funding constraints generally affect student services (such as school busing, library and educational materials, and extracurricular activities) before employment of administrative, instructional, and support staff, though supplementary programs, such as music and foreign language instruction, also often face cuts when budgets become tight. Even if no reductions are required, budget considerations also may affect attempts to expand school programs, such as increasing the number of counselors and teacher assistants in elementary schools.
Job prospects. In addition to job openings due to employment growth, retirements will create large numbers of job openings as a greater-than-average number of workers are over the age of 45 in nearly all the major occupations that make up the industry—from janitors to education administrators. (See chart)
Some of the largest occupations in educational services have a high proportion of workers aged 45 and over.
School districts, particularly those in urban and rural areas, continue to report difficulties in recruiting qualified teachers, administrators, and support personnel. Fast-growing areas of the country—including several States and cities in the South and West—also report difficulty recruiting education workers, especially teachers. Retirements are expected to remain high over the 2006-16 period, so the number of students graduating with education degrees may not be sufficient to meet this industry’s growing needs, making job opportunities for graduates in many education fields good to excellent. Currently, alternative licensing programs are helping to attract more people into teaching, especially those from other career paths, but opportunities should continue to be very good for highly qualified teachers, especially those in subject areas with the highest needs, such as math, science, and special education.
At the postsecondary level, increases in student enrollments and projected retirements of current faculty should contribute to a favorable job market for postsecondary teachers. However, candidates applying for tenured positions will continue to face keen competition as many colleges and universities rely on adjunct or part-time faculty and graduate students to make up a larger share of the total instructional staff than in the past.
Earnings [About this section] Back to TopBack to Top
Industry earnings. Earnings of occupations concentrated in the educational services industry—education administrators, teachers, counselors, and librarians—are significantly higher than the average for all occupations because the workers tend to be older and have higher levels of educational attainment. Among teachers, earnings increase with higher educational attainment and more years of service. Full-time postsecondary teachers earn the most, followed by elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers. Most teachers are paid a salary, but part-time instructors in postsecondary institutions usually are paid a fixed amount per course. Educational services employees who work the traditional school year can earn additional money during the summer in jobs related to, or outside of, education. Benefits generally are good, but, as in other industries, part-time workers often do not receive the same benefits that full-time workers do. Earnings for selected occupations within the education industry appear in table 3.
Table 3. Median annual earnings of the largest occupations in educational services, May 2006 Occupation Educational services All industries
Education administrators, elementary and secondary school
Secondary school teachers, except vocational and special education
Special education teachers, preschool, kindergarten, and elementary school
Middle school teachers, except vocational and special education
Elementary school teachers, except special education
Secretaries, except legal, medical, and executive
Bus drivers, school
Janitors and cleaners, except maids and housekeeping cleaners
Office clerks, general
Benefits and union membership. About 38 percent of workers in the educational services industry are union members or are covered by union contracts, compared with only 13 percent of workers in all industries combined. Unionization is more common in public elementary, middle, and secondary schools than in other school settings. The American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association are the largest unions representing teachers and other school personnel.
Sources of Additional Information [About this section] Back to TopBack to Top
Links to non-BLS Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.
Information on unions and education-related issues can be obtained from the following organizations:
* American Federation of Teachers, 555 New Jersey Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20001.
* National Education Association, 1201 16th St. NW, Washington, DC 20036.
Citation: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Career Guide to Industries, 2008-09 Edition, Educational Services, on the Internet at (visited July 23, 2009 ).