Is teaching a job? or a career? or ….

As a teacher I often talk to my middle school students about preparing for their careers. Many times I have students ask What is the difference between a “Job” and a “Career”. My simple answer is that a “job” is a way to earn money (temporary, hourly pay), where as a career is a job where you advance your roll into leadership or require higher degree of learning (longer term, salary). I give examples of jobs as waiting tables or working cutting grass. Career examples I give are retail jobs where one can move up to management or police, firefighter, doctor. My students often respond to the retail example stating it is a job that could be a career if nothing else pans out. I have to point out that starting low in retail and working up is a time-honored tradition, giving the example of a friend of mine from college who worked in a Jockey Retail store and has worked his way up to a district manager position.

My view is a similar view of what Trent wrote in a blog “The Simple Dollar“. I have used this blog in the past help explain the difference in a career planning unit I have taught during middle school advisory lessons. Up until recently I have always thought of teaching as a career and not a job.

I have a masters degree that is in the field of educations. Check one-off in the career column. I have been teaching for 13 year. Check. I have a salary. Check. I work hard and want my boss to notice my work. Check. Sure does look like a career. But I think there is more to teaching than calling it a career.

After re-reading Trent’s blog, a few ideas stuck in my head. A career is “connected employment” leading to “higher pay and higher prestige.” That really does not happen in teaching. If I want higher pay and prestige I have to leave the teaching gig and head into management and consulting. I guess you can call those teaching jobs, I don’t really see it that way. I teach because of the students. Sure someday I might leave them for a different kind of student but I don’t want to go into management. I am like most teachers very dedicated to my students. We all work hard. Spend time outside of our normal working hours, working to better us at our craft. So I don’t see teaching as a career I see it as a LIFESTYLE. Sure we might know some who see it as a job, They leave the job after the first 5 years. Some see it as a career, the move up the ladder quickly forgetting how it was to be in a classroom daily. But there are some who live teaching 24/7/365 and to us it is truly a LIFESTYLE choice.