March 1, 2021
Given the change of course that has happened in the world, we wanted to provide expert opinions on what aspiring graduates can do to start off their careers in an uncertain economic climate. We wanted to know what skills will be more important, where the economy is doing relatively well, and if there will be any lasting effects on the job market.
Companies are looking for candidates that can handle the new responsibilities of the job market. Recent graduates actually have an advantage because they are comfortable using newer technologies and have been communicating virtually their whole lives. They can take what they've learned and apply it immediately.
We spoke to professors and experts from several universities and companies to get their opinions on where the job market for recent graduates is heading, as well as how young graduates entering the industry can be adequately prepared. Here are their thoughts.
University of West Georgia
SUNY College at Oswego
Nicholls State University
Utah Valley University
California State University, San Bernardino
Daytona State College
High Point University
Cal Poly Pomona
Educational Leadership and Policy StudiesWebsite
Alice Johnson: The pandemic prompted teacher exodus have left teacher job vacancies wide open. I do not believe graduates who become certified will have difficulty securing jobs. Graduates who are culturally competent and can provide effective learning experiences across lines of difference will be in even higher demand.
Alice Johnson: Graduates really need to come to the classroom with 'nurturing' mindset. As many of us grew up in a 'compliance' era, it is easy to simply 'expect' students to simply 'do as I say'. Effective teaching and learning can only go so far under compliance oriented educational learning environments. It's more than just being loving and kind; it is having an understanding that all students come to the school with different experiences, backgrounds, funds of knowledge and paradigms, differing personality types that manifest in varying observable behaviors. Too often, people, teachers included, act and react in ways that are not helpful because we tend to project our own personality types onto others and make incorrect assumptions about others' meaning. I think teachers need leadership skills with emphasis on how to facilitate positive relationships among students to build community within their classrooms.
Alice Johnson: As the Indiana legislature continues to disregard public schools and divert educational resources to private and public charter schools, teacher pay has stayed stagnant over the past 10 years in Indiana with the expectation for the pay gap between other states and careers to widen even further over the next several years.
Walker School of EducationWebsite
Dr. George Conrad: In education the pandemic has created two major trends, since last March.
The use of technology to provide effective lessons for students through virtual classes has been a challenge for teachers. One issue is in the technology itself. Teachers most often must rely on their own computers and notebooks along with their own home internet networks to deliver instruction. This issue is coupled with the availability of the internet and with computers and notebooks available to students.
Even if the technology is provided, teachers must find ways to engage students with meaning full lessons and ways to assess student learning. To gage learning and to monitor and adjust student engagement takes far more planning.
Finally, teacher training institutions need to help future teachers with understanding and applying new uses for technology based instruction. This can be difficult as different districts adopt different types of delivery systems.The good news for future teacher graduates is that, if they are willing and comfortable to master technology skills along with content knowledge, more and more teaching positions will be available.
Most all states have a teacher retirement system and retirement amounts increase with the number of years of service. In my experience, most practicing teachers teach beyond the minimum years needed to "retire." As a result of the pandemic, and the fear of contracting Covid, more and more teachers that I have contact with are looking seriously at retiring sooner than originally planned. This may change with the use of vaccines, but, again, this is good news for future teacher graduates. I predict that more and more teachers will be retiring and providing more an more positions available to new graduates.
Dr. George Conrad: In my past experience as an HR administrator and superintendent, skills tend to be measured by experiences. If a new graduate can demonstrate that they have had a number of experiences with children in AND outside the classroom, they will appear to be a stronger candidate. Endorsements are also important. For example, when working with candidates who are seeking an endorsement in elementary education, I encourage them to also consider supplemental endorsements in areas such as special education, early childhood, or English a second language. This makes them more marketable.
While difficult to reflect on a resume, finding ways to illustrate their dispositions is also important. Teaching is far more than skills. How does a candidate show that they have empathy or a desire to make a difference in their students' lives? Many school districts in Nebraska are familiar with the use of Gallup's CliftonStrengths (the new term for StrengthFinder). As a result, candidates who can provide their 5 top strengths on a resume, draws additional attention.
Dr. George Conrad: As the population of teachers begin to age, more and more positions are becoming available. As we continue to see population growth in Southwestern States, teaching positions will continue to grow.
The real answer for future candidates is their willingness to teacher high large metropolitan cities and rural communities. Most large cities are surrounded with suburban school districts. With the movement to a suburban live style, more and more cities deal with student populations of color and with more than average poverty. If a candidate is willing to consider this challenge, they can find highly rewarding careers. This is especially true for candidates of color.
On the other side of the population movement, more and more rural areas are seeing a reduction in students and also seeing a reduction in the number of new teachers interested in moving to small communities to begin their career. As a result, candidates interested in work in "small town" American can find rewarding opportunities to build relationships with students and families (I started my career in a 3-room country school in the 70's and I originally came from outside Chicago).
University of West Georgia
Department of Early Childhood Through Secondary EducationWebsite
Dr. Robyn Huss: Yes, there will be an enduring impact of the coronavirus pandemic on graduates of teacher education programs. Though 2020 will be remembered as the year of the pandemic and global lockdowns, it will also be remembered as the year education moved online for all grade levels.
In teacher preparation programs at the University of West Georgia, candidates take a series of courses with field experiences. Many interns began learning to teach online as soon as the lockdowns occurred in March 2020, and since then through their accompanying coursework, there has been a more intentional approach to preparing candidates with digital resources to enhance their teaching. Candidates are placed in schools where digital learning occurs, and they have field experiences developing instruction, engaging students in activities, and assessing learning outcomes under the mentorship of a cooperating teacher, within school buildings as well as via online learning platforms. In the fall of 2020, most public school districts in Georgia began offering both in-person and online options for students, so it is a benefit that teacher candidates are able to practice teaching in both modalities, including some who experience hybrid classrooms.
The scope of digital learning will decrease as more K-12 students return to school buildings full time. However, the capabilities and variety of online instructional resources and student engagement models that the pandemic forced into an accelerated implementation will endure, and teaching and learning will be better for it. Teachers will adapt to the choices that have been made available with their recent experiences in digital instruction, which will enable them to be more responsive to the learning needs of their students, both with and without the use of technology.
Dr. Robyn Huss: The online learning expectation that the pandemic thrust upon our educational systems has changed the outlook for what new teachers will be expected to know and be able to do. In today's environment of digital learning, principals may be more likely to hire educators who have had experience teaching in the virtual realm. Therefore, recent graduates should be encouraged to include digital teaching experiences on their resumes. If they don't have firsthand teaching experience, perhaps they can highlight online courses in which they have excelled, so potential employers will know they have at least some familiarity with digital learning and online educational platforms.
Beyond earning a teaching certificate, I would encourage both beginning teachers and those preparing to enter the job market to continue their education by enrolling in a graduate-level course in online instruction. For example, the University of West Georgia offers a state-certified Online Teaching Endorsement, which can be added to a teaching certificate after completing the four required online courses; the endorsement courses can also be embedded within a graduate degree program. Alternatively, educators can earn a Master of Education in Instructional Technology; completion of this fully online, advanced degree program would prepare them for teaching online or working as an instructional technologist as well as qualify them to receive a pay increase.
Dr. Robyn Huss: Public school teachers in Georgia, as in many states, are paid on a set salary schedule determined by their years of teaching experience and their highest degree achievement. Earning a graduate degree at the next level is the quickest route to a pay raise, which in turn increases their retirement benefits.
School of EducationWebsite
V. Scott Solberg Ph.D.: The single biggest trend in the job market, whether related to education or otherwise, is that today's adults must understand in order to be competitive within a 4th industrialized world of work, they must be ready to describe their deep human skills (i.e., advanced social emotional learning skills) and technical skills as well as explain how these skills transfer in supporting the needs and expectations of the company and occupations to which they are applying. Today's adults must also be ready to describe how they are managing their continued professional development so they can keep up with the latest advancements in technology so that they can do their work in an efficient and high-quality manner. What this means is that employers are looking for the skills that cannot be replaced by robots or AI - they need individuals who understand the unique person qualities and technical skills and talent that will add value to team projects. Career management skills include being able to acquire the deep human person qualities and technical skills that align to specific occupation sectors.
Educators must be able to work with media and graphic design, work in teams to create learning programs that are designed around meaningful and research-based learning objectives, and connect with their students using strong social emotional learning skills (SEL) as well as facilitate students in developing their own SEL skills. And, educators need to recognize that there are hundreds of occupations within and outside of education that align to their key skills which include active listening, active learning, critical thinking, monitoring, public speaking, writing, complex problem solving, management of personnel, time management, coordination and collaboration with others, instructing, persuasion, service orientation and social perceptiveness. These skills are a few of the many listed in ONETonline.org's advanced skills list which lists over 450 occupations that one can grow into by acquiring key technical skills, certification, and/or advanced degrees.
V. Scott Solberg Ph.D.: The information and computer technology and health sciences sectors are two promising future employment arenas to consider. Within information and computer technology, data science skills are in high demand. For both information and computer technology and health sciences there are a range of certifications one can receive from a two-year postsecondary institution that lead to high wage occupations. The new byword is "stackable credentials" whereby one adds more than one credential that results in a wider range of occupational opportunities as well as the ability to move up in pay within a given sector.
V. Scott Solberg Ph.D.: In education, salaries vary by region of the country. It is important to use Onetonline.org to consider the salaries in your local region or find areas of the country you want to consider. There are also a wide range of salaries depending on what type of occupation you are seeking within education.
SUNY College at Oswego
School of Education
Angela Perrotto: In terms of acquiring jobs, I believe not - although school budgets are extremely tight in response to the demands the virus has placed on districts.
In terms of impact: the virus has forced all of us to come to terms as quickly as possible with HOW technology has transformed the way we learn. This does not mean that schools will be remote teaching from here on. In many cases, for legitimate reasons, schools were slow to take on technology "for the masses". There is strong evidence as to how technology has changed the business, entertainment, educational, and industrial worlds. What the pandemic has done is force schools to think very creatively and to move as quickly as possible to continue to provide learning opportunities for students when they were not able to attend the brick and mortar buildings. We are learning a lot and moving as quickly as possible.
What has this done for our graduates? The graduates of 2021 in our program have dealt with, investigated, solved issues for schools, and researched ways to maximize student success in these pandemic times. Their program has been online because of the pandemic. Their school jobs, for the most part, are partially or completely online. As CAS students, they are solving issues with transition plans for students, professional development plans for teachers, social emotional supports for both staff and students, curricular and pedagogical strategies and plans in order to meet the individualized needs of students, building multi-tiered systems of supports for students, partnering opportunities with community agencies for families......This has been the work of our CAS students who will graduate in 2021 and 2022. They will surely need and use these skills as they move into their future as school and district leaders.
Projections do not indicate there will be any shortage of leadership jobs. On the contrary, data for the next several years indicates there will be many retirements.
Angela Perrotto: We track the data for leadership job acquisition for our graduates every year. Upon graduation, our graduates are successful in acquiring jobs as Assistant Principals, Principals and Directors (Technology, Pupil Services, Athletics, Special Programs, etc.).
Angela Perrotto: For the most part, leaders should stay in their position long enough to be certain systems are in place. Every system, of course, is centered upon increasing opportunities for students to be successful and identifying and removing any obstacles that may be hindering that for every student. Once this is accomplished (generally 4-6 years), educational leaders build their own trajectory which is derived from a knowledge of knowing they can impact an even larger number of students. It is a common understanding that through the course of an educational leader's years of service, there is a long range plan to take on more job responsibilities that include more students, more community partnerships, more advocacy, more operations. It is common to see the employment history of an administrator progress from assistant principal, to principal, to director, to assistant superintendent, and to superintendent (or some form of these titles along the way).
Nicholls State University
Teacher Education DepartmentWebsite
Dr. Cynthia Vavasseur: By far, the biggest trend in the job market of educational leadership will be how technology can drive instruction, innovation and student success. Before the pandemic, educational technology was a hot topic. In the last year, the need for educational technology professionals at both the K12 and Higher Education level have been highlighted.
Dr. Cynthia Vavasseur: NSU is in contract with the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) to become the 3rd University in the world to be an ISTE certification provider. This certification is highly competitive and allows educators to show their skills of leading in a technology driven education market.
Dr. Cynthia Vavasseur: Education and educational leadership is not a profession to go into for the money. That being said, as the need for educational technology professionals grows, I would imagine so would the salary range.
Utah Valley University
UVU School of Aviation Sciences
Michael Hollister: It is difficult to predict whether or not there will be an "enduring impact," since we are still enduring the challenges presented by this pandemic. While the aviation industry routinely experiences financial turbulence, an industry that usually is the first to feel the effects of a declining economy, and the last to feel the effects of a good one, it generally seems to find a way to recover and continue, though never without some sort of casualty in the form of an airline or other related business. Aviation, and particularly the airline segment (to include cargo airlines) are the life-blood of our modern world, and the mass-transit of the twenty-first century. There is no other form of transportation that can do what the airplane can do, and from this standpoint, it is an indispensable asset. Even in the midst of economic turmoil, industry giants like Boeing are forecasting an increase in demand across multiple aerospace disciplines through 2039. When it comes to our graduates, while nothing is ever a sure thing, the industry has historically proven itself to be resilient.
Michael Hollister: Without trying to sound flippant, a good job out of college is the one the graduate was hoping to land after grabbing that expensive piece of paper (the diploma) and throwing their funny-looking hat in the air!
Even though a "pilot shortage" is currently suspended, historically speaking, the demand will return. So, while our current students realize that the market they hope to join one day isn't doing well at the moment, many also realize that they can utilize this time to prepare, earning the certificates, ratings and flight time necessary to qualify them for the job they will eventually seek.
However, it is important to also realize that the aviation industry is vast and has needs and opportunities that go far beyond the demand for pilots only. Some of the current demands include much-needed maintenance personnel, engineers of all disciplines, management personnel and so on. There is great potential found in the burgeoning Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and Urban Air Mobility (UAM) markets, with the latter expected to be worth nearly 16 billion by 2030, with other projections placing this segment of the ma
Michael Hollister: The best advice I received from a former airline pilot and professor of mine was to "Keep improving yourself . . . even after you have earned your Bachelor's degree, go on and get a Masters degree. Keep improving yourself."
Realistically, furthering one's education is perhaps the best way to increase value and marketability, which is, after all, what someone's earning potential is really based on. One's marketability (not being a one-trick pony, also see "versatility") and how valuable one is perceived to be by their employer, will directly influence earning potential and longevity.
I've also learned that furthering one's education need not exclusively mean college degrees and certificates, though they are, of course, important. Value, marketability and versatility can certainly come from a variety of experiences and activities that extend beyond the walls of a college or university. Knowing how to utilize such experiences and other acquired skills, and then applying them toward a field of study that is of interest to an individual will be of great value too, but will require some thoughtful planning.
Lastly, I think an individual's personality has a great impact on one's perceived value and worth to an employer/company. An individual who is positive, a team player, one who offers solutions to problems, rather than just complaining, will go a long way. This, I have found, to be a universal truth regardless of the profession or occupation.
California State University, San Bernardino
College of EducationWebsite
Stephen Bronack Ph.D.: I anticipate the biggest trend will be teachers who are hybrid-ready. That is, they have the skills and tools to teach well both online and in the classroom, as the situation dictates.
Stephen Bronack Ph.D.: Using technology to engage both students and their families is number one. A close second, I would say, is using technology to help personalize learning as best we can for each student.
Stephen Bronack Ph.D.: I believe there is growing recognition of the important role teachers play in our communities, and a renewed interest in ensuring teachers are not left behind when it comes to making a good living.
Daytona State College
Bachelor of Science in EducationWebsite
Dr. Donald May: I think we will continue to see a critical teacher-shortage, not only in our district and the State of Florida, but nationwide. There are three trends affecting this shortage: the initial teacher-shortage continues to expand as positions for those reaching retirement are not filled. Secondly due to COVID we are seeing a trend in teachers, many of them parents, having to care for family members including children who now are at home for online schooling. Teacher prep programs like ours work diligently to recruit new teacher candidates and produce quality first-year teachers but the need far outweighs the number of teacher graduates each term.
According to the Florida Education Association, "Florida has a serious and growing teacher shortage. Districts had more than 4,000-advertised vacancies for classroom teachers in August 2018, up from 3,000 in 2017 and 2,400 in 2016. As of January 2020 -midway through the school year - more than 2,440 teaching positions remained unfilled - a 10% increase from January 2019."
Lastly, another disturbing trend we are noticing in Florida regarding recruiting teacher candidates into teacher prep programs is that the rigor of the admissions exam (General Knowledge Test- GKT) and the unwillingness of the Florida Department of Education to make changes, especially regarding the disproportionately low passing rates of minorities. This factor definitely effected the teacher shortage before the pandemic and now made worse by the pandemic with the closing of testing centers, access to tutors, lack of funding for study aids.
Dr. Donald May: That depends on the grade-level and subject candidates want to eventually teach. Here at Daytona State we offer several pathways www.daytonastate.edu
Candidates who already have a bachelor degree can complete our Educator Preparation Institute (EPI) program www.daytonastate.edu
Our most popular programs are Elementary Education and Exceptional Student Education. Graduates of these programs have what I refer to as our "golden ticket" of both a Reading Endorsement and ESOL Endorsement K-12. Graduates with these two endorsements are highly sought after by hiring principals.
Dr. Donald May: A good job out of college is one that you enjoy going to each day! Yes, the job of teaching is challenging but it also offers many opportunities for professional growth. I see graduates now in their own classrooms get better each year and eventually become master teachers who then mentor other graduates. Ask any teacher why they do it and the vast majority of them will speak about the children who have passed through the door of their classroom. Making the difference in the lives of children is a reward that few professions can espouse. Teaching not only makes a difference in lives of children each day, but it also raises a nation.
High Point University
Stout School of EducationWebsite
Dr. Amy Holcombe Ph.D.: Across the nation, the stressors of the pandemic have tipped the proverbial scales in favor of retirement for many principals, superintendents and education leaders. This exodus has created numerous opportunities for newly graduated education leaders to take on the challenges of educating our youth in the midst of global disruption caused not only by the pandemic but politics and social justice movements. New leaders will be faced with challenges unimagined by their predecessors-- massive new teacher shortages, flight from public schools to smaller, private and charter schools, an undeniable opportunity and resource gap between students of difference races and socio-economic status, and achieving racial equity.
Dr. Amy Holcombe Ph.D.: Education leaders must posses effective communication skills that enable them to inspire internal and external stakeholders to buy into their vision. They must be leaders who can stake out a vision, align all of their resources and efforts towards achieving that vision, and effectively gain the commitment from all constituents to support that vision. Savvy employers are also looking for leaders that know how to leverage and develop the talent of their people to achieve the organization's strategic goals. Instructional leadership is not longer 'enough.' Strategic leaders must know how to maximize the talent of each team member in order to engage and retain them.
Dr. Amy Holcombe Ph.D.: A good job is like a good marriage--mutually beneficial for both parties. In seeking out a job match, candidates should seek out organizations whose values align with their own. A good job will provide a high level of engagement, opportunities for development, and pathways to career growth and acceleration. It is also important to know that it's a seller's market in education right now--candidates can shop around for better opportunities if they are unsatisfied with their current organization.
Cal Poly Pomona
Department of EducationWebsite
Jann Pataray-Ching, Ph.D.: In our area of southern California, districts have been hit by impacted budget cuts due to COVID-19. The Learning Policy Institute estimates that California will experience a 13.8% decline (about 49,000 jobs) in the teaching force. This is compounded by state budget cuts to higher education, making it more difficult for people of color in low-income communities to pursue degrees in Education.
Early in the pandemic, TK-12 schools were rushed to online instruction, and teachers were learning the technology often along with their students. Resources have been redistributed to support teachers in delivering online instruction and to support students with technology and WIFI to support access to online instruction. However, while some teachers have been able to use technology to teach their classes, other teachers need greater support in transitioning from in-person instruction to virtual modes. This includes the need for online platforms and tools to support TK-12 teachers delivering course content. Teachers and recent graduates with experience using these platforms who have online skills will continue to be in high demand as schools work to integrate the best of these platforms, even when they return to in-person classes.
Another trend will be an increased focus on those students whose performance and engagement are dropping significantly in the virtual environment. Schools need to find more tools to help students cope and motivate them to complete their assignments, engage in the lessons, and interact socially, even if it is online. They need to make sure students are prepared for state testing, passing the grade level, and not being left behind.
Other trends include the need for more cooperating teachers to support student-teacher candidates across all levels and content areas. As many teachers struggle to provide instruction through virtual environments, it is additionally challenging to support student-teacher candidates who are completing their credentials at nearby universities and wanting to enter the teaching profession. Additional challenges are allowing student-teacher candidates to record their teaching while working with students, so they may complete and pass their high-stakes assessments. When these obstacles prevent student-teacher candidates from completing their path toward their credential, fewer teachers are able to enter the profession, disrupting the quality of education that schools can provide to TK-12 students because districts will be forced to hire those with substandard credentials.
Jann Pataray-Ching, Ph.D.: -The ability to use technology in online platforms
-The ability to speak multiple languages
-Completion of state certifications and assessments for the teaching credential.
-The willingness to teach in urban, rural, and low-income communities
-The ability to advocate and teach for racial and social justice
-Secondary credentials and added authorizations in bilingual education and computer science.
-Master's degrees in Education to strengthen the credential
Jann Pataray-Ching, Ph.D.: There are jobs available in pockets throughout the nation. In California, due to the post-recession teacher layoffs, many districts are in need of STEM, Special Education, and bilingual education teachers, especially in rural and low-income areas. The state has budgeted $70 million to get more qualified STEM teachers in the classroom.
Dr. Malissa Scheuring Leipold: The biggest trends we have and will continue to see in the job market given the pandemic is the need for more teachers who are comfortable with classroom based educational technology, as well as the uncertainly of the environment. We have seen a mass exodus of those nearing retirement and those who struggle with a complete commitment to the teaching profession. The need for teachers who are adaptable and positive in the face of uncertainly are craved by the schools and school districts, across public and private schools.
We have also seen a rapid growth in the need for home-based tutors to accompany children along the remote learning journey, as well as a request for teachers who would be willing to teach in the pod model where small groups of families group together and have their children educated together in their home under the guidance of qualified educational bodies. There are more jobs in education available than we can fill with our college graduates.
Dr. Malissa Scheuring Leipold: If a graduate needs to take a gap year, I would recommend that they keep their footing in the education field in some manner. Whether this is training in educational platforms, like Google Classroom or IXL which have become very popular among PK-12 schooling, this will enhance the skills which are now required in most classrooms today since the current climate dictates whether schooling may be in-person one day and remote another. Such classes/workshops are offered through colleges and universities, such as Iona, as well as through professional educator groups, such as Kappa Delta Pi, which is an international honor society in education. Also, every curricular area has professional memberships for teachers, and they consistently offer refresher workshops which keep teachers abreast of the latest in their field. Employers want to know that their teacher candidates and teachers take the initiative to be lifelong learners and model continuous best practice.
Dr. Malissa Scheuring Leipold: General advice I would give to a graduate beginning their career is to take one day at a time. In my many years in education, I have always been able to map out a general plan of action to be implemented in the classroom, but the pandemic has changed everything. You need to be ready for the unexpected, and don't let it throw you. The field of education is never predictable, so the more comfortable one gets with uncertainty and being adaptable without being resentful or stubborn, the more you can embrace the beauty of changing children's lives for the better. I would also emphasize the importance of personal relationships. Reach out to those with whom you are working, call them by name, make it more than about work by asking how they are doing. Also, they should call parents on a consistent basis, especially when their child is doing well and simply say, "Hi, I am here for you and am with you in your desire to see your child succeed." This will go miles. Last, believe in yourself yet be selfless by always keeping the best interest of the students at heart and compassionate. If you do this, everything else will fall into place.