Adult education is a thriving field. Today more than ever, learning has become a life-long process. Those who were unable to finish college or certification programs just out of high school due to family obligations, frequently have become today’s adult students. This means that there is a wide range of career opportunities for adult educators.
Teaching adults can take many forms. Below are listed some career options for adult educators:
The biggest market for adult educators are the junior college and college level instructor positions. Increasingly adults are finding they must complete unfinished degrees, go back for more specialized education to gain promotions, and often find new career paths entirely due to job loss. Local community colleges are a strong source of that training, and adult educators are in big demand in this market.
Another thriving market is that for instructors of English as a Second Language (ESL). Many adults come to the United States from non-English speaking countries. Once here, they need to learn English to survive and thrive. ESL courses have been around a long time, serving foreign students and new immigrants. ESL instructors are also needed overseas, where an increasingly “flat” world (in the words of Thomas Friedman) is making English an important advantage in trade relations.
Private Educational Companies
Although there are many public education facilities in the United States, there are also many private, for-profit schools set up to teach specific subjects or skill sets to adults. Some examples of these private educational facilities include computer training centers and foreign language training companies (such as Alliance Francaise or Berlitz).
Many private companies hire in-house trainers to help pave the way to learning new software, phone systems, and other technical knowledge for their company staff. These trainers and counselors can work one-on-one with working adults to help bring individuals up to speed on new computer programs (for example) or work in mini-classrooms to train bigger groups or departments at the same time.
Another less considered career field is serving as an educational liaison for a nonprofit. Many nonprofits (from real estate associations to nature groups) hold educational sessions for members and the public. Adult educators are used to facilitate this educational programming and to run workshops and courses in specific subject matter, which are sponsored by the nonprofit.
Many adult educators can find a sideline in textbook review and consultation. While many publishing houses have in-house editorial staff, specialized subject knowledge is frequently jobbed out to experts who have an extensive base of knowledge in a particular subject matter’s field to ensure that statements made in textbooks are accurate and up to date.
In short, there are many opportunities for adult educators beyond college level courses. Even college level courses offer many different types of opportunities, from certification programs to learning for fun to traditional degree programs. Adult educators need to be flexible and creative in their job search, taking a wide view of the opportunities before them.