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University to employment guide: Education

Teaching at a public school offers a stable public-sector job with summers off, a good pension and benefits, and average starting salaries ranging from $30,000 to more than $40,000, depending on the province, which can increase to $70,000 or more if you become a principal.

Although there's competition for teaching jobs in the public system, if you have a specialization such as math or science or French you are more likely to land a full-time job quickly.

Other options for education majors include corporate training, teacher training in areas such as information technology, English as a second language or special-needs education, career or guidance counselling, student affairs administration, tutoring and educational positions at places such as zoos or museums.

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Education programs you may not know about ... but should

Outdoor Adventure Leadership

The program focuses on guiding and instructing while fostering leadership skills. Students learn the physiological, psychological, environmental and technical aspects necessary for leading or instructing popular outdoor adventure activities —Laurentian University

Native Language Instructors' Program

Students who are fluent in a native language are taught how to teach it to people whose first language is English. —Lakehead University

Mathematical Sciences Specialization

With math and science teachers in high demand, education students who specialize in these fields will be at an advantage. —Simon Fraser University

Early Childhood Care and Education

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This will give you the skills required for educating children for the crucial years under the age of 5. —Capilano University, Thompson Rivers University, University of New Brunswick, University of Prince Edward Island, Windsor University

Artist in Community Education

This unique program is tailored to artists who are looking to teach in the classroom, community or corporate-based arts organizations. —Queen's University

Arts Education Program

Often underrated, the arts can expand a child's mind and help foster creative thinking. Students are required to take courses in all five arts areas: dance, drama, literature, music and visual arts. —University of Regina

Elementary Physical Education Degree

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Learn how to promote health to young people. —Thompson Rivers University, Nipissing University

Note: These programs are examples of available degrees and may be available in different forms at universities other than those listed.

What employers want

Scott Sincerbox

Superintendent of Education - Human Resources, Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board

There are many opportunities besides teaching in the education sector. They can be working in schools in a variety of different capacities: educational assistant, speech and language pathologist, psycho-educational consultant, working in facilities management and the business of education.

We look at the person first and foremost. We want to make sure that the person has the required knowledge, skills and attitudes to support students and communities in reaching their full potential.

Over the course of any given year there will be high-demand areas, such as French and senior sciences, but what we're really looking for is a workforce that is going to represent the community. The candidates that we hire are well-rounded. Not only do they have the academic background, but they have the background in terms of working with kids in a variety of different capacities, through volunteer activities, community involvement, sporting activities or other experiences that would lend themselves well to being involved in the education sector.

Mike Woods

Superintendent of schools, Yukon Department of Education

In the Yukon, the more flexible a person is, the more likely they are to get a job. We always recommend that students do a liberal education, which is take everything and as much of it as you can.

The key for us is being willing to live in small, remote communities and having experience with children. Any chance you get to work with children, whether through volunteer work, church, Sunday school, Scouts, Girl Guides, or children's camps— those things are very important for future teachers to be involved in.

A number of our communities have high First Nations populations, so we're always looking for students who are interested in participating in community life such as potlatches, community gatherings and cultural celebrations. You can't just come to teach, you have to be willing to become a part of the community.

From class to career: Education grads reveal their path to the workforce

Erin Porter

Teacher, Greenwood College School

Bachelor of Arts in Geography and World Religions/Concurrent Education Program, Queen's University, 2005

Faculty of Education, Queen's University, 2006

Porter, 27, has been a teacher at a private school in Toronto, for three years. She says she decided to pursue a career in education when she was in Grade 10. "From a young age, I was always drawn to people who were leaders, mentors and motivators. Throughout high school, the individuals who exemplified these qualities for me were my teachers, coaches and parents."

Porter says she was able to get a place in her program, as well as a teaching position, largely due to the volunteer and mentorship work she did in high school and university. She volunteered at an after-school homework program, taught swimming lessons, worked at camps, was a peer tutor and a peer mentor and was involved in student government. She says that "each experience was crucial for shaping my leadership and organizational skills."

The best part of her job, she says, is "my interaction and relationship with my students. They constantly challenge me to be a better teacher, to present information more creatively, to remain current with our world and to find their strengths and teach them based on their learning needs."

Amy Dennis

Manager, Development and Marketing, Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television

Bachelor of Arts, Music & Music Education, University of Western Ontario, 2005

Marketing Management, Sheridan College, 2006

Although she initially wanted to be a teacher, Dennis, 28, changed her mind after graduating from university. After completing a post-graduate certificate in marketing management, Dennis got experience by interning at an orchestra. While there, she enrolled in a certificate program in arts and cultural marketing and fundraising, which she says "was monumental in teaching me best-practice techniques, case studies and introducing me to key players in the industry."

She says people considering careers in arts administration, should "intern or volunteer, join professional associations and network." The best part of her job was getting "a kiss on the hand from an award-winning actor. Though unexpected, it's one of my most memorable moments."

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