Want a Teaching Career Like in the Movies?

By Michelle Fabio

From Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939) to Dead Poets Society (1989) to Mona Lisa Smile (2003), teachers have been one of Hollywood’s favorite subjects and with good reason. Every day teachers touch and change lives, inspiring students to study harder, aim higher and achieve more. Although being a teacher isn’t exactly like what you see in the movies, if the big screen inspires you to enter the profession, you can start building your teaching career online today.

Teachers can work in public or private environments, and with students anywhere from preschool age up; they can also choose to specialize in areas such as physical and health education, technology or curriculum design.

What follows is a general description on becoming a teacher in the three major areas, but be sure to check out specifics at our Education Degrees page.

Early Childhood Education

Remember Kindergarten Cop (1990)? It takes the touch of a special person and teacher to work with the youngest members of our society.

Those with degrees in early childhood education work with children from infants to kindergarten, and sometimes even up to eight years of age in day care or child care centers, preschools, kindergartens and elementary schools.

As early childhood education teachers play a vital role in a child’s emotional, physical and intellectual development, many employers prefer at least a certificate or associate degree in early childhood education, while public schools require a bachelor’s degree or higher. Such degrees can be earned online while still holding down another, possibly unrelated full-time job.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates there were 437,000 preschool teachers in the United States in 2006, and job prospects continue to be favorable in this specialty.

K-12 Teacher

Surely you felt the urge to teach high school after watching Stand and Deliver (1988), Lean on Me (1989) and Dangerous Minds (1995).

K-12 teachers cover kindergarten through the 12th grade (high school). Specific duties vary among the grades, but all teachers prepare and administer lessons and tests, evaluate student performances and maintain classroom discipline. Teachers may also meet with parents to discuss a child’s needs and progress and provide one-on-one instruction to students who need extra help.

Although private schools vary in requirements for teachers, to become a public elementary school teacher, a bachelor’s degree in education, early childhood development or a similar discipline is required; sometimes coursework toward a master’s degree is required as well. Public high school teachers must complete master’s level work in their discipline.

Teachers must also be licensed yearly by the state in which they teach. For more information see:

Higher Education Instruction

Did Drumline (2002), Good Will Hunting (1997) or A Beautiful Mind (2001) inspire you to focus on full-time students with the desire and passion to earn a higher education?

Postsecondary teaching professionals are those who work with students beyond the high school level, mostly in two-year community colleges or four-year campus colleges and universities. Positions include faculty members like lecturers and instructors, professors, graduate teaching assistants, administrators and also vocational or technical teachers in subjects like cosmetology or culinary arts.

For those who teach, preparing and administering lectures and exams is a primary duty, but many also advise students and publish materials in journals or books. All higher education positions require at least a bachelor’s degree, but some require a master’s degree and/or doctoral degree as well.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates there were approximately 1.7 million postsecondary teachers in 2006, and the profession is expected to grow much faster than average over the next 10 years; many opportunities, though, will be part-time or non-tenure-track positions.

From Film to Full-Time Teacher

Regardless of which avenue you choose, remember that you can always get a head start on your teaching career as seen on film with an online degree — you just have to break yourself from the DVDs and leave the movie images of teaching behind first.

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