Majority Of Teachers Not Interested In Moving Up The Career Ladder

As fewer individuals are becoming teachers, so is the amount of teachers wanting to advance their careers and become administrators.

By Jessica Marie Baumgartner | Published

National Teacher Unions Have Lost 200,000 Members


Interest in the teaching profession is low. For years now, more teachers have been retiring than earning their education certification. While some children still say they want to be a teacher when they grow up, very few think of becoming a principal, and this reflects the general consensus that most teachers are not interested in moving up the career ladder. 

Educators often enter the profession wishing to mold young minds. They romanticize the idea of spreading knowledge and teaching children. When presented with opportunities for promotions most teachers are reluctant. 

Education Week reported on this phenomenon and found that many teachers are wary of increased demands, concerned about their ability to bring staff and students together, as well as fearful of a lack of opportunities to temporarily gain experience taking on increased tasks before deciding if the role suits them. Teacher burnout is already a national concern. School principals are responsible for every student, teacher, and staff member within their location. Being able to manage that many people efficiently takes organizational skill sets that reach far beyond the typical teacher requirements. 

While some educators may be up for that aspect of the job, many do not wish to climb the career ladder because classroom teaching is a more personal position. Teachers work directly with students, and so, are more generally liked and appreciated by the children they serve. Principals, by contrast, are often seen as authority figures. Students are more likely to fear them and even school staff members view them as a commanding officer. Stepping into those shoes is less desirable, being that teachers wish to inspire young minds and enjoy sharing tips with their colleagues.  

In recent years, the Department of Education has fought to factorize learning. More stringent rules have been set, and even political ideology has entered funding authorization. Teachers have enough trouble reaching students on an individualized basis under current standards, principals are placed under even more scrutiny by federal oversight and responsibility for all school issues, scandals, and shortcomings. 

Teachers who are somewhat interested in accepting a promotion are also deterred by the vast change in roles. Instead of offering programs for educators to shadow principals or assist them for a grace period in order to allow them to make an educated career decision, they are faced with only two options: turn down the position and remain in the roles they know and work at, or accept a new potentially overwhelming administrative career. This doesn’t allow a realistic transition phase, nor can it provide teachers with the tools they need to succeed when stepping into a non-classroom role. 


Although interest in the teaching profession has waned, this lack of interest is nothing compared to higher positions within the education system. Administrative roles are more demanding jobs that may offer higher pay, but this compensation is not considered enough to match the added responsibilities, nor can it aid teachers in unifying students and school staff appropriately. Teachers are much more comfortable remaining in the classroom than taking on the unknown struggles of higher positions.