Wednesday, May 15, 2013

4 Alternative Education Career Paths to Explore

By Dr. Will Deyamport, III

I have been an educator for 11 years, and whenever I meet people, it never fails that they look confused when I tell them that I do not work in either K-12 or higher education.  Even a number of colleges and universities seem to not understand that the field of education is much more expansive. Yet, there are plenty of educators, like myself, who go about the work of leading, designing, and delivering programming aimed at improving the lives of millions of youngsters and adults. (You’ve already heard of many of these organizations, such as The Girl Scouts or The American Diabetes Association.) So if you’re looking for alternate career paths, the following is a list of the 4 most common careers in education outside of K-12 or higher education.
Family Life Education
Family life education is an informative, educational approach to assisting individuals in living authentic and productive lives. Utilizing a family systems perspective, most family life educational programming takes place in a classroom-style kind of setting and can even be provided through educational materials, such as books, DVD’s, CD’s, social networking, Podcasts, and blogs. The goal of family life education is to teach (research-based content) skills that aid individuals in making the best informed decisions about their lives. Topics can include: goal-setting, parenting, career development, dating and romantic relationships, health and wellness, and/or debt-management and home ownership.
If you are interested in becoming a Family Life Educator, you can either contact the Child and Family department at your local college or university or contact The National Council of Family Relations.
Youth Development
Youth Development supports the growth and development of young people.  Leaders, individuals, and organizations in the field, such as The Boys and Girls Club of America or Reel Grrls, offer programs and various learning experiences that engage, encourage, and empower young people to successfully transition into adulthood.  Some organizations partner with other non and for-profit organizations, others partner with schools, religious institutions, and colleges and universities, and others, such as summer camps, for the most part, do not partner with other organizations, but are offered by state, city, and privately owned entities.
If you are interested in a career in youth development, look into degree programs in Child and Family Studies or Human Development, as well as Youth Development or Social Work. If none exist at the schools you are interested in attending or do not quite fit your interests, you could major in Interdisciplinary Studies or a degree program that will allow you develop your own course of study. Also, contact a local youth development organization to conduct an informational interview.
Adult and Continuing Education
Adult education, often referred to as continuing education, is the umbrella term for the practice of teaching and lifelong learning for adults. Adult or continuing education offers an array of learning experiences. From vocational training to personal enrichment to workplace development as well as GED or adult literacy classes, adult education is focused on adult growth and development.  Many continuing education courses are offered by colleges and universities via their Continuing Education or Extension Departments, as well as via many community-based, non-profit organizations.
If you are interested in a career in adult education, you can contact The American Association for Adult and Continuing Education or The University Professional & Continuing Education Association or the Adult Education department at your local university.
Community Education
Community education is the development of individuals, groups, institutions, and communities. Leaders, individuals, and organizations in the field deliver educational programming aimed at inspiring, educating, and connecting with individuals in the community to live their best lives. The purpose of community education is to positively influence the behavior of individuals and communities. Where a youth development organization will serve the youth, and an adult or continuing education organization will serve adults, community education-focused organizations serves all ages of the community.
If you are interested in pursuing a career in community education, look at local organizations or causes that you are most passionate about. Intern and conduct informational interviews with those organizations. Discover where you can make your mark and look for a degree program that will support you in doing so.
Remember the field of education offers several careers outside of K-12 and higher education. Not only do they allow for more freedom, they are diverse and allow for more opportunities for people to follow their passions. I am looking forward to the possibilities of the future.
About the author: Dr. Will Deyamport, III, Ed.D. is an eLeader who specializes in digital learning and development. His research is in technology leadership and using web tools and social technologies for professional development, teaching and learning, and social good. 


  1. I really appreciate your insight on education- learning is not confined to k-12 and higher education. That being said, what are your thoughts on online schooling for middle school?

  2. Hailey,

    Thanks for the compliment. I think it can be successful for some students. That said, the best model would be synchronous learning, that involves a set time for students and teacher to discuss the material live via video.

    Dr. Will