Industry Outlook

The job market for teachers and education-related jobs varies depending on the economy. There will always be a need for educators, but the competition for jobs in more desirable school districts with higher budgets and more resources will continue to be strong. Overall, however, positive growth is expected for the education industry in the coming years. 

The number of teachers in elementary and secondary schools is projected to grow by 8 percent from 2015 through 2027, reaching 3.4 million, according to the National Institute for Education Statistics. The number of public school teachers is projected to increase and the number of private school teachers is projected to decrease. The annual number of new teacher hires is projected to increase in both public and private schools, and the pupil/teacher ratios are projected to decrease in both public and private schools.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), employment in the field of education is expected to increase by 5 percent through 2028, which is about as fast as the average projected for all industries. Employment growth varies depending upon the job, type of school, and geographic location. Aside from growth within the field, many job openings will arise from the need to replace workers who retire or change occupations. 

The demand for preschool teachers is expected to increase at a rate of 7 percent, faster than the average, through 2028. Two factors play a role in this demand: the increasing number of children reaching preschool age and parents' demand for early childhood education and preschool services. Research continues to provide support that students who attend preschool are more successful throughout their academic careers.

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers have a lower prospect of finding work during this time, with the DOL predicting only a 3 percent increase in jobs through 2028. Employment growth will vary depending upon the region and also depending on state and local government budgets. There will be job opportunities for kindergarten and elementary school teachers due to retirements, and also due to the increase in charter schools and the drive to reduce the student-teacher ratio and improve educational quality and standards.

The number of middle school teachers will also increase at the rate of 3 percent through 2028. There may be better opportunities for middle school teachers in urban and rural school districts as opposed to suburban school districts. Teachers who are able to relocate for employment will improve their chances of securing work. 

High school teachers are expected to have 4 percent employment growth through 2028, which is about as fast as the average for all other occupations. Rising enrollment in high schools and the need to replace teachers retiring or leaving the job will contribute to some growth in this field. Job opportunities will be best for high school teachers who specialize in math, science, English as a second language, and special education.

The U.S. Department of Labor projects faster than average employment growth for school and career counselors, and much faster than average employment growth for audiologists and speech-language pathologists, through 2028. Job opportunities may also be better for teachers with certain specialties, such as experience in early childhood intervention or skills in working with students who have multiple disabilities, severe disabilities, or autism spectrum disorders. Despite an increasing enrollment of special education students, however, continued emphasis on inclusion of disabled students in general education classrooms, the effort to reach students with problems at younger ages, and legal requirements to provide services, growth will be hampered by the availability of funds to hire special education teachers.

The number of teacher assistant positions will increase by 4 percent, which is about as fast as the average, through 2028. The teacher assistant job is a supplementary role, however, and is particularly subject to budget cuts. When school districts cut their budgets, among the first jobs to be cut are teacher assistants. There is high turnover in this profession due to the low pay and other factors, and job opportunities will arise from the need to replace workers who leave the field for other work.

The number of postsecondary teaching jobs is expected to increase by 11 percent through 2028, which is much faster than the average. This increase is due to increased enrollment at colleges and universities throughout the country. Expected growth for principals at all levels is 4 percent through 2028. Despite the fact that enrollment at schools is expected to increase, budgetary concerns will keep employment levels from growing at the same pace as other jobs in the field. Career and technical education teachers will have little or no employment growth through 2028. Those with experience and certifications in their subject area will have the advantage in the job market.

It is clear that enrollment in schools plays a vital role in the number of teaching and other jobs in schools. Enrollments in elementary, middle, and secondary school are projected to grow in the coming years, fueling a general demand for more preschool, elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the total enrollment in U.S. elementary and secondary schools is projected to reach more than 58 million students by 2027. Enrollment in grades 9 through 12 is expected to grow from 16.5 million in 2015 to 17 million by 2027. The states that offer the highest levels of employment for kindergarten and elementary school teachers are California, Texas, New York, Florida, and Illinois. Opportunities should be strong for educators who specialize in the teaching of mathematics, science (especially chemistry and physics), bilingual education, and foreign languages.

Postsecondary student enrollments are expected to increase as well, though at slower rates. Employment at this level also depends in part on the availability of funding to academic and research institutes. Although college enrollment is expected to increase, competition for full-time faculty and administrator positions will remain high. Lower paid, part-time instructors, such as visiting professors and graduate students, are replacing tenure-track faculty positions. Organizations such as the American Association of University Professors and the American Federation of Teachers are working to prevent the loss of full-time jobs, as well as to help part-time instructors receive better pay and benefits.

More instructors will find work in community colleges and other adult education programs. The federal government is committed to providing vocational training for high school graduates who choose not to enroll immediately in four-year colleges or universities. These school-to-work programs prepare graduating seniors for high-wage technical jobs and require trained adult and vocational education teachers.

The coronavirus pandemic of 2020 disrupted all traditional models of education. Closing schools and forcing students out of classrooms and onto virtual platforms, educating in the era of COVID-19 meant educators needed to master new skills and technology. They also faced risk of infection even with limitations on classroom time and limited interaction with students and staff. Districts around the country reported losing some teachers and staff to retirement in the face of these obstacles. Overall demand for teachers and related professionals remained steady, though, as schools sought replacements or even additional staff to support a range of learning options on remote platforms. 

As of January 2021, the educational services industry in the U.S. is valued at $1.4 trillion, employing nearly 13 million people. From 2016 through 2021, growth of about 1.3 percent per year was predicted. Growth in this sector is expected to continue through 2025, according to research group IBISWorld. Some factors that will contribute to this growth include the increased distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine in 2021 and rebounding economy, as well as increases in government funding. The stabilization of consumers' finances and growth of consumer confidence will lead to increased spending on "larger, costlier goods, such as postsecondary education."

Post pandemic, more schools will be adapting artificial intelligence technology to provide students with options beyond in-person, on-site education. As described in an education industry article, "COVID-19 has proven to be an accelerator of many trends. Institutions experiencing financial hardship pre-pandemic are now experiencing more financial hardship. Citizens looking for learning opportunities to secure their financial futures pre-pandemic are now looking for more fast, engaging, and creative learning opportunities to address their skills gaps and career desires."