Career Ladder – Teacher (Teacher Assistant – Teacher Certified – Lead Teacher – Center Director)

A career ladder is a path that allows one to advance in their profession, take on more responsibilities, and increase their impact in the field. There are many different options within a career field, and this is one example that someone in education could follow.

To move up the teacher career ladder, continuous professional development, seeking advanced degrees, and obtaining certifications are common key steps:

Teacher Aide

It’s common for an educator to start out as a teacher’s aide, often referred to as a teacher assistant or paraprofessional, where they play an important supportive role in the classroom. Their duties include assisting the teacher in implementing lesson plans, providing one-on-one or small group support to students, and helping with classroom management.


  • High school diploma or equivalent is typically the minimum educational requirement.
  • Criminal background check.
  • Some states or school districts require certification in CPR, first aid, or special education support.
  • Salary range – median annual range is about $26,000 to $30,000.

Classroom Teacher

This is a common next step for educators. In this role, teachers are responsible for delivering curriculum, managing their classrooms, and ensuring student learning. To excel in this position, teachers focus on developing their instructional skills, classroom management, and building strong relationships with students and colleagues.

Some teachers can take on additional responsibilities as lead teachers or mentors. These roles involve providing support and guidance to less experienced teachers, helping them improve their teaching practices. This not only benefits novice teachers but also demonstrates leadership skills.

Furthermore, specialization can be an excellent way to advance in your teaching career. Specialized roles can include subjects like ESL (English as a Second Language), special education, or gifted education. Obtaining additional certifications in these areas can lead to opportunities for specialist positions.


  • Bachelor’s degree in education or a relevant subject.
  • Teaching license or certification from the appropriate education authority.
  • Student teaching component, where you gain classroom experience under the supervision of an experienced teacher.
  • Criminal background check.
  • Continuing education to maintain certification.
  • Salary range — $40,000 to $85,000 a year. Can vary significantly based on experience, education, and region.

Curriculum Coordinator

Educators who find themselves interested in developing and implementing learning plans may decide to transition into roles that involve curriculum development. These positions require an understanding of instructional design and can impact a broader range of students and teachers.


  • Master’s degree in curriculum and instruction, educational leadership, or a related field.
  • Previous classroom teaching experience is valuable.
  • Strong knowledge of curriculum design, educational standards, and instructional strategies is essential.
  • Salary range — $60,000 to $100,000 a year. Can vary based on size and location of the school, experience, and education.

Assistant Principal or Principal

Educators who are interested in administrative roles where they lead an entire team, may want to aim for leadership roles such as assistant principal or principal. These positions involve overseeing the entire school, managing staff, and implementing educational policies.


  • Master’s degree in educational leadership or a related field.
  • Most principals have several years of teaching experience.
  • Principal certification or licensure, which often includes passing an exam.
  • Some districts require leadership training or professional development.
  • Principals, like teachers, usually need to pass a criminal background check.
  • Salary range — $75,000 to $140,000 a year. Can vary based on size and location of the school, experience, and education.


A school district superintendent is the top administrative official for the district, overseeing the entire school district’s operations; including budget management, curriculum development, and personnel management. They work with the school board to implement educational policies, create a strategic vision for the district, and ensure that the district meets state and federal educational standards.


  • Minimum requirement — master’s degree in educational leadership, educational administration, or a related field. Many superintendents hold a doctoral degree, such as an Ed.D. (Doctor of Education) or Ph.D. in education.
  • Teaching experience, often including several years of classroom teaching.
  • Prior experience in administrative roles, including positions such as principal, assistant superintendent, or other leadership roles.
  • Administrative certification or licensure, which often involves passing an exam or meeting other state requirements.
  • Salary range — $100,000 to $250,000 or more a year. Can vary based on size of the district, experience, and education.

Education can be a challenging field, but it can also be one of the most rewarding. It requires a good deal of patience and you must enjoy working with youth and parents. Teaching jobs are here to stay and the field will continue to evolve as technology does. This is one example of a possible career ladder for educators who are looking to level up their career or learn about what they may need to do to reach a certain position.

Whether you are looking for your first job or to make a move to a new position, Arbor Associates is here to help! We can help you find work that works for you. Get in touch with us today.