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Teaching is one of the most rewarding professions you can choose: Most people remember their favorite teachers and the lessons they taught. The chance to pass that gift along to the next generation is a powerful incentive for pursuing a teaching career.
Another benefit teaching offers is that you can find a teaching job anywhere. And thanks to some opportunities offered by the federal government, when they say anywhere, they mean anywhere -- even outer space. NASA has recently instituted the Educators in Space (EdSpace) program. "Educator mission specialists" participate just like the rest of the mission's astronauts but also carry out teaching projects in space. Start now with a NASA fellowship or as a research associate. By the time the next shuttle launches into space, you may be along for the ride. At zero gravity, you may have to hold on to your chalk, but the experience will be worth it.
Want to travel but not out of this solar system? Other government agencies are continually looking for teachers, particularly the Department of Defense. On military bases worldwide, educators with the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) teach the children of members of the American armed forces. Nearly 9,000 teachers work in the more than 200 public schools DoDEA operates in seven states and 13 foreign countries. DoDEA teachers are not part of the military; the agency is made up of civilian employees, meaning jobs come with all the perks of government employment.
Many other federal agencies also hire educational or instructional specialists, who develop course materials to prepare adult employees for their work. It's a different kind of teaching but every bit as important to the nation. At the Department of Homeland Security, for example, every employee involved in law enforcement or border protection must be trained in those skills. At the Bureau of Land Management, employees write lesson plans and design workshops for teachers and hike leaders who need help planning activities at parks and recreational areas. The Forest Service Civilian Conservation Corps Centers, known as Job Corps Centers, where teachers school young adults in occupational skills.
Finally, don't forget the Department of Education. Its mission is to promote educational excellence throughout the nation. While you won't find specific jobs teaching in the agency, you will find numerous opportunities to contribute to education policy.
Britt Jung was a high school teacher before she joined the government and now works in the department's Office of Elementary and Secondary Education. "I went into education policy, because I wanted to be a bridge, a policy maker who could also speak from the perspective of the practitioners and thus have a good understanding of the whole picture," she says.
For opportunities in teaching, visit the Teaching & Education Career Center.