The new year isn’t looking terribly bright for teaching grads.
As school districts consolidate and downsize throughout Western New York, the hard truth for many fresh-faced teaching graduates is that getting hired as a full-time teacher may involve moving far from home.
While teaching jobs locally are expected to loosen up in two to three years as more veteran teachers retire, local full-time teaching jobs – particularly for highly competitive positions like elementary education – are still few and far between.
Tracy Collingwood, director of career development office for SUNY Fredonia, said she works with out-of-state recruiters who come to the annual Buffalo-area Teacher Recruitment Days event that occurs in April.
Out-of-state recruiters outnumber local recruiters nearly two-to-one, she said. States such as Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Nevada (Las Vegas, in particular) and Texas are particularly hungry to hire.
“They come up every year,” Collingwood said. “Locally, the picture is not quite the same, though.”
Local education and career advisers are recommending that anyone who wants to find a local full-time job be prepared to make short-term sacrifices and go the extra mile to stand out as a candidate.
That includes gaining multiple education certifications and being willing to serve as a substitute teacher as a way to get a foot in the door.
“Any way you can get your foot in the district has become the model locally,” said Jessie Lombardo, assistant director of the Career Development Center at SUNY Buffalo State. “That’s the conversation we have with a lot of our students. Are you willing to do that? ... There’s hiring that’s taking place but you have to go out and make a name for yourself, and you have to go above and beyond.”
A teacher’s specialty teaching area makes a difference too.
Tough-to-fill vacancies still exist locally for those with certifications in foreign language, higher-level science areas like physics and chemistry, as well as positions in special education and literacy, Lombardo said.
Education graduates are understandably anxious about the teaching market, which is why career advisers encourage students to not only work hard for their dream job, but to spend time focusing on a contingency plan, such as looking for work with private and charter schools.
While these career specialists say times remain challenging for those looking for work in the teaching fields, times aren’t as tough as they were five years ago, when job openings were particularly bleak.
And the coming years continue to look even brighter for those with a passion for teaching. Collingwood said that 41 percent of teachers in New York State are already of retirement age. Many have likely held onto their jobs because of the depressed economy, she said, but that will eventually change.
“It’s a matter of time,” she said.