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Explore: the education industry

The education industry is a vast and varied one, playing a significant role in countries around the world. We take a closer look at the current state of play in terms of jobs, skills, and how to get your career started.

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It’s in our nature to share and pass on information. From prehistoric petroglyphs to the first cuneiform writing, humans have wanted to capture and convey details of the world around them. The first formal education systems are relatively much more recent, and the education industry is practically modern by comparison. However, it’s globally one of the biggest in the world and is essential to many countries. 

We take a detailed look at where the education is currently, exploring the size, scale, and range of jobs available. We also take a look at the impact of COVID-19 on education, as well as how you can go about getting a job in the industry. 

The global education industry

Before we delve into some of the specifics surrounding education, let’s first take a moment to settle on a suitable definition and take a look at how big the industry is. This helps us to get some context for the further details ahead: 

What is it? 

The education industry is vast. This is little surprise given how much of a central role is plays in our lives. From pre-school through to universities, there is a wide range of institutions and organisations that are directly involved in learning. In addition, there are governmental and policy roles, eLearning organisations (like ours!), technology companies and more. 

As you might expect, and as we’ll see, the roles across some of these sectors are also varied. Although teachers play a central role, they’re far from the only profession. Support, admin, development, policy, finance, and other areas are also vital to the education industry. 

Because of how vast and varied it is, there are several routes into the numerous sectors. What’s more, as the industry and technology develop, so will the opportunities for all kinds of professionals. 

How big is the industry? 

Size of education industry

The education industry plays a significant role in both the British and global economy. The most recent figures for the UK show that its education exports overseas are worth nearly £20 billion. Much of this comes from higher education for international students, as well as English language training overseas. 

On a global scale, estimates suggest that total expenditure on education by governments and individuals could reach $10 trillion by 2030, up from around $6.5 trillion today. This growth would mean it makes up over 6% of the Gross World Product. 

If we take a look at one specific market, we can see that the global online education market is forecasted to be worth $319.167 billion by 2025, up from $187.877 billion in 2019. Studies suggest that the increase of internet availability, cloud computing, and investments are driving this rapid growth. 

How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the education industry? 

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted education systems around the world. From pre-school through to higher education institutions, there have been closures and students studying from home. According to figures from UNESCO, by the end of March 2020, nearly 1.6 billion students around the world had their education affected by the pandemic.

What’s more, according to UNICEF, a third of the world’s schoolchildren (around 463 million students) were unable to access remote learning when their schools were closed. 

The effects of these issues, along with others, are definitely being felt in the short-term. However, according to an OECD report, the impact of COVID-19 on education will also have, some significant long-term consequences, including: 

  • Immediate government relief. Governments around the world have applied emergency financial measures to support education systems and students. Clearly, the economic disruptions of closures are being felt across schools, colleges, and universities. 
  • Slower growth in spending. According to forecasts, the pandemic will lead to an overall slower growth in government spending on education. 
  • Fewer international students. With bans on travel, safety concerns, and a reduced number of in-person classes, it’s likely that fewer students will study overseas. Many higher education institutions rely on funding from these students, which could have ongoing impacts. 
  • A new approach to teaching. As schools have closed, teachers and other education professionals have had to act fast to ensure students’ learning continues. The move towards digital and remote learning has been seen globally. However, as mentioned above, not everyone has equal access to this technology. Similarly, not all teachers are familiar with these methods. 
  • New learning environments. Education centres are facing new challenges when it comes to reopening. Social distancing, attendance policies, and training for teachers and staff are all needed in the current climate. 

What kinds of jobs are there in the industry?

As you can no doubt imagine, there are all kinds of jobs related to education. Even within specific fields such as teaching, there are all kinds of careers that you can pursue. There are options available across many of the sectors associated with education, often in growing and developing professions. 

However, with this range of choice, it can be difficult to pinpoint the type of role that is right for you. Careers experts Prospects have a list of some of the jobs associated directly with teaching. Below, we’ve also highlighted some of the different areas you can choose from, as well as information about specific jobs:

Teaching roles

These types of jobs are usually the more hands-on types of roles. They require you to have direct contact with learners, often planning out materials and learning plans: 

  • Teacher. Becoming a teacher usually means working in a primary or secondary school. You might work with a range of age groups in different environments, and may specialise in one particular subject. It can be a varied and rewarding career.  
  • Lecturer. Lecturers work at universities and other higher education institutions. Usually, you’ll be working towards a master’s degree or PhD and have published academic work. Your area of specialisation will often be far more refined than with teaching. 
  • Private tutor. In this role, you’ll provide supplementary education to students. You don’t have to be a qualified teacher to become a tutor, but you do need a high level of knowledge and experience in the field you’re teaching in. Teaching English online is a popular choice at the moment. 

Education support roles 

These roles often support the work of other education professionals, as well as the learners themselves. They’re not quite as hands-on as teaching roles, but do sometimes have some level of direct interaction:

  • Teaching lab technician. This role can be quite varied and requires you to provide support to science teachers and lecturers across schools, colleges, and other institutions. Specific technical support is often also a crucial part of this role.  
  • Librarian. As an academic librarian, you’ll spend time helping students find learning materials and information, as well as helping develop their research skills. Additionally, you’ll be responsible for database management and overseeing the management of books, journals, and other resources. 

Technology roles

The education technology sector is growing rapidly at the moment. As such, there is a diverse range of jobs available. Some focus more on developing education materials, while others focus on more technical aspects: 

  • Learning Technologist. Learning technologists work to manage, research, and develop learning technologies. This includes things like social media, virtual, and online learning. They may also help learners use these tools. 
  • Educational software programmer. This role is focused on the creation of apps and other software that facilitate the learning process. It’s often a highly technical role that’s more focused on programming rather than educational aspects. 
  • Course designer. For those who are interested in developing curriculums and teaching/learning materials, this is the role for you. You’ll spend time developing, designing, and redesigning courses and creating teaching manuals and guides. 

What skills do I need to enter the industry?

So, if one of the roles or sectors above sounds like it’s of interest, you may be wondering what types of skills are valued. Well, in the education industry, a mix of hard and soft skills is usually required. 

The hard skills are often very much job-dependent. For example, if you want to be a science teacher, you’ll likely need a related degree. There is also a difference between the level of education you want to aim for, and how hands-on you want to be. 

For soft skills, things are generally a bit more flexible. However, there are certain qualities and attributes that can help significantly if you want to work in the education industry:

Soft skills

There are the interpersonal skills that can often determine how well you work as an individual and with others. They’re sometimes harder to quantify, but are no less essential than hard skills: 

  • Communication. Whether you’re working directly with students or with other professionals, the ability to effectively communicate is essential in the education industry. You’ll need to be able to convey ideas in an understandable and approachable way. 
  • Creativity. Education is often about finding creative ways to solve problems. Whether it’s thinking outside of the box to teach a particular point or coming up with a new educational app, creativity helps. 
  • Emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence helps you to understand, manage, and use your emotions, as well as recognising them in others. It’s an essential skill for education, as it’s closely linked to empathy.  
  • Adaptability. The education industry is frequently a fast-paced and changeable environment. Professionals working in this sector need to be able to adapt with these changes and take challenges in their stride. 

How do salaries compare? 

If you’re considering a salary in the healthcare industry, you probably want to know how much certain jobs can pay. Again, this often varies significantly across the various roles and sectors. However, to give an idea of this range, we’ve looked at some salaries from the education industry. We’ve also examined how these compare to other areas.

Salaries across the industry 

Salary comparison

Below, we’ve highlighted the average annual salary for a selection of roles. Data is taken from PayScale:

  • Teaching lab technician. £18,750
  • Primary school teacher. £26,532
  • Librarian. £22,864
  • Secondary school teacher. £29,587
  • E-learning specialist. £29,859
  • Educational psychologist. £43,779

Salaries compared 

According to some salary comparison tools, the average salary for jobs in the healthcare industry is £42,500, based on a sample size of 1,046. However, this varies greatly depending on the region you’re in. Some data suggests that teaching jobs in London pay as much as £5,000 per year more. 

There is also a significant difference depending on your level of experience. According to Prospects data, a newly qualified teacher ranges from £24,373 to £30,480. For a headteacher in England and Wales (excluding London) this ranges from £46,457 to £114,060. 

Why choose a career in education?

There are many reasons you may decide that education is the right industry for you, no matter the specific role you choose. Some of the reasons why a career in this sector can be rewarding include:

  • You get to help others. Education is all about furthering the development of future generations. It can be a rewarding field to work in, whether you’re in a hands-on role or not. 
  • You can explore your passion. For those who have a love for a particular area or subject, getting involved in the education of that niche can make your work enjoyable. 
  • There is a clear career path. Teaching, in particular, offers a fairly steady career path with plenty of room for continuing professional development. Other roles also have progression, and the industry as a whole is growing and evolving. 
  • It offers job security. Despite the difficulties faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, education is a central and necessary industry. As such, there is a lot of job security, as well as a demand for qualified professionals. 
  • You have chances to travel. The education industry has a lot of common ground across the world. As such, there are often opportunities for qualified professionals to work overseas. 

How to get started in the education industry 

If all of this information about the education industry has got your attention, you might be wondering how you can start a career in this field. Thankfully, there are several routes available. However, the exact requirements are dictated by the roles and types of professions you want to get into. 

We’ve outlined some of the ways you can get your career in the education industry started: 

  • Education. Whether you want to go into teaching or a more supportive or administrative role, education can play a central role. To become a teacher, you’ll need to qualify as one first, which usually requires a relevant degree. However, you can get started on your journey with an online primary or secondary education course to see whether the field is right for you. 
  • Training. Some roles in the education industry can be attained through relevant training. Internships, apprenticeships, and other similar courses can help you learn and gain experience in your chosen field. 
  • Experience. For some roles, you can start at an assistant level and work your way up as you gain experience and work-based learning. 
  • Networking. You’ll often find that increasingly your professional network can improve your chances of securing a relevant job. You can check out our guide on how to network to find out more about making new connections. 

Final thoughts 

The education industry is vast, varied, and vital. Despite the recent challenges, progress continues, and there are always opportunities for qualified and passionate professionals. Whether you like the idea of teaching or would prefer a more technical or supportive role, there are plenty of career options available. With the right knowledge, skills, and drive, you can start on the path towards a job related to education.


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