Preparing for a Career in Education

Tiger Tracks for careers in Education


  • Students who want to enter the field of education must first decide if they would prefer to be a teacher, administrator, or counselor.
  • You should also consider the costs and benefits of working for a public or private school.
  • If you decide that you want to enter education, you should find a way to gain experience.
  • Teachers and administrators often are organized, outgoing, and patient.
  • Teachers must know the content of what they teach and how to relay it to their students.

Academics at Hampden-Sydney

  • Study the subjects that you think you want to teach. Above all else, know your content areas.
  • In addition to those classes, you would be wise to enroll in public speaking classes. 
  • Participate in class discussions and dive into texts, formulas, equations, or experiments.  Hampden-Sydney is a good place to practice the skills that you will need in the classroom. 
  • Students seeking administrative positions can major in any subject. 
  • Seek the counsel of Dr. Elizabeth Deis in the Rhetoric Department, who also advises the Future Educators Club.

Summer Experience

Seek experience in teaching, leading, and mentoring kids at the age level you want to teach. Work as a camp counselor, volunteer at church, or run a local youth program.

Programs and Extracurricular Activities

  • Future Educators Club - Typically brings speakers to campus, at least one of whom will be an alumnus, twice a semester for dinner and a talk about careers in education.
  • Brown Teaching Fellowship - A $4,000 forgivable loan towards graduate study or certification program for students willing to commit three years to teaching at a public school.
  • Southern Teachers Agency in Charlottesville - Visits campus on an annual basis to recruit Hampden-Sydney students for employment at independent schools throughout the region.
  • Hampden-Sydney Tutor - Lisa Burns from the Office of Academic Success coordinates many of the opportunities for peer tutoring at Hampden-Sydney.
  • Student Leadership - Become a resident advisor or club executive, or join Student Government, student admissions committee, or the Society of 1791 for leadership experience.

Preparation for Employment and Graduate Study

Post-Graduate Programs

  • JET Program - Follow in the steps of several recent graduates by spending a year teaching English in Japan through this program run by the Japanese government.
  • Fulbright Scholars - Fulbright offers English teaching grants to over 60 countries worldwide. See Becca Snyder in the Career Education and Vocational Reflection Office for details.
  • Teach for America - A highly competitive fellowship that places some of the nation's top graduates to teach for two years in some of the nation's lowest income communities.
  • Southern Teachers Agency in Charlottesville - A teacher placement agency for positions at private and independent K-12 schools. Candidates can apply to Southern Teachers directly, and they facilitate the search process for you.  There is no cost to the candidate to work with them.  They often visit campus to recruit Hampden-Sydney students.

Primary and Secondary Educators

  • Simultaneous Teacher Certification - Students can pursue their teaching certificates at Longwood while enrolled at Hampden-Sydney for no additional charge. This is the quickest option for students who want to begin teaching immediately following graduation.
  • Master's Degree + Certification - Many programs exist that award students either a Master's of Arts in Teaching (MAT) or a Master's of Science in Education (MSE) within 18 months to two years. Sweet Briar and Hollins and other nearby colleges and universities both have such programs.
  • Teacher Certification is awarded on a state-by-state basis: check the rules for the state where you want to teach before you enroll in a program.
  • Licensure in Special Education - Makes you more attractive at all educational levels.
  • No Certification - For students interested in teaching at independent schools, no certificate is required. However, certification may pay off in the long run in terms of salary and promotion.

College Professor or Administrator

  • College Professor - Pursue a doctoral degree in the field that you want to teach.
  • College Administrator - An advanced degree is necessary. College presidents often get their doctoral degrees in academic subjects of interest and climb the faculty ladder; others earn doctoral degrees in educational administration and climb the staff ladder. Those seeking top administrator positions should also seek experience with teaching at the collegiate level.

Graduate Certification Tests

  • Praxis Tests - In Virginia, the Praxis 1 (a general knowledge test) is typically required for licensure in public schools. The Praxis 2 designates specialization in a particular subject area.  In Virginia, you can teach any subject for which you have passed the Praxis 2 examination.
  • GRE - The required test for admission to most graduate programs in education.

Alumni with careers in education