Do I Have What It Takes to Work in Education?

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Find out what skills work best in today’s education jobs.

So much variety and opportunity in education.

Do you have talents best suited for jobs in education? Even though the unique qualities needed to work effectively with students are pretty similar, the roles available in education are diverse. 

First, consider how many different sectors there are across the whole spectrum of education—from early childhood centers to K-12 schools and institutions of higher ed. So the positions in education need different people, as some are better suited to work with different age groups and developmental stages.

Furthermore, within each education sector, employment opportunities range across a wide variety of disciplines. For example, teaching and classroom roles need teachers, substitute teachers, adjunct professors, and paraeducators for special education aides, tutors, and other support staff. 

And outside of teaching, non-instructional jobs include custodians, food services, school nurses, or office and clerical workers. Every role is essential, each calling for a wide array of skills, experience, or credentials.

With so much opportunity, there are a lot of hidden talents you could bring to education that you may not realize. They may be ingrained qualities that are just part of your nature or skills and experiences you’ve nurtured while working in other industries. It’s possible you may already have the perfect mindset to thrive in an educational environment.

Occupations and backgrounds that fit well in education.

There are people in specific roles—from entirely different working backgrounds— who tend to fit exceptionally well in jobs across education. Usually, the jobs they’re doing demand some of the same skill sets—like communication, organization, and conflict resolution, among others. These are essential to succeeding in education. Traits like these can be developed in business, health care, or military service, translating very well into many teaching and non-teaching roles.

For example, certified nursing assistants (CNAs) have proven to work well in the classroom as special education paraprofessionals. Their role in health care requires them to be reliable, kind, empathetic, punctual, and respectful of confidentiality and privacy issues—all nurturing qualities key to working with special education students. 

CNAs work long hours and schedules that include night shifts. This shows their commitment and flexibility, which is perfect for education. However, they might find that working a more consistent schedule, Monday through Friday, in education is more enjoyable.

People with experience in public service, from firefighters to police and veterans, can also find a welcome home in education. Many of these folks are already dedicated to their communities, trained to be confident decision-makers, and good at reacting with less direction. They can use their training at schools and universities, whether it’s for leadership, problem-solving, or reflecting calm in the face of uncertainty.

Parents also make good candidates because their background in raising children builds many of the same traits described above. However, a quick note to moms and dads: check with your school about working in your child’s building first. Some districts are very much for it, while some are equally opposed to the idea.

Natural qualities that belong in education.

Some professions nurture the proper skills or characteristics for work in education. But sometimes, people are born with the qualities or tendencies it takes to really thrive in these jobs. Examples are innate talents like creativity, enthusiasm, and leadership.


Our early childhood centers, schools, and colleges all depend on creative people. This extends beyond the classroom to roles in food service, administration, safety, and office work. Students simply learn better at any age when they’re doing something that’s more fun or interesting. No matter what role you play, you can bring creativity to your approach and discover new ways for students to enjoy learning.


Next, while it’s true that enthusiasm is infectious, it’s also difficult to fake. But when you love the subject you teach or you love the job you’re doing, you’ll be igniting a spark in students that can burn for a lifetime. Bring your natural passions and interests to education, and you’ll be turning something that was boring into something students can get excited about. Even a new, fun dish in the cafeteria can inspire a better afternoon and lead to a better week.


Lastly, we’ve all met a natural-born leader. Substitute teachers, paraeducators, and adjunct professors alike need the same leadership skills to manage an effective classroom and inspire confidence in their students. If you’ve got it, you’ll use it daily in education. If not, no worries! You can also learn to lead.

Despite some of these natural abilities, many people remain hesitant to try a role in education for lack of formal preparation. So, employers like Kelly Education provide pre-hire training, orientation, and ongoing professional development customized for all roles and available on demand. Schools and colleges are equally supportive. The interest is always mutual: making you feel more comfortable when sharing the innate gifts that you already possess.

The best mindsets for education.

Open to change. Confidence. Professionalism. Patience.

Like any other work, your success depends on the skills you bring to the job just as much as your attitude and outlook. 

First and foremost, although you’re encouraged to be creative and have fun, it’s imperative to take the job seriously. Whatever work you do in an educational setting, you have an essential role to play. Whether you enjoy the responsibility of full-time teaching or the flexibility of a substitute position, every role has a huge impact on students.

One perspective that fits well in education is being open to change

Countless issues or opportunities arise daily in education that requires you to adapt, often on a moment’s notice. Your routine will vary regularly between holidays, trips, sports days, celebrations, and the occasional unexpected twist. If you embrace change and don’t want to sit at a desk all day, your adaptability will serve you well.

Confidence is another mindset that’s key. 

Whether your students are infants, children, or adults, it helps to feel self-assured when directing a class or working with an individual student. You’ll need some basic knowledge of computers and technology to feel at ease with scheduling the assignments you want to take or to use some of the technology-based equipment at your work location. 

Unsure about substitute teaching? Try working as a paraprofessional first, where you can work under the direct supervision of a teacher a gain a better understanding of the role. Kelly Education is here to help you find the right job and make the transition as easy as possible. The more confident you feel, the better.

Next, professionalism is paramount. Any role in education reflects your character—students are always watching you as a role model, so they should respect you, and you need to respect them as well. You must also present yourself consistently, whether on the job or on social media. Understand that nothing is private, and everything shapes your reputation and the respect you gain on the job.

Finally, patience is a virtue in life and priceless to education. People learn in various ways, at different speeds, and perform better in certain subjects. Even the best classes and students encounter stressful situations and conflicts where you’ll need to maintain your composure and help formulate a favorable resolution.

Contact the experts to find your place in education.

Every employer in education has a list of ideal qualities they look for in the right person for the job. Whether by nature or nurture, do you already have some of the characteristics it takes to succeed? 

Talk to a Kelly Education recruiter for a better idea of where your talents will fit and how you can get started. We are here to support you and help make you successful. No matter the role, your time and skills will make a lasting difference.

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