If you ask a child to list careers off the top of their head, you’re far more likely to hear “teacher” than “assistant marketing manager.” Teaching is a simple career concept that has a lot of depth to it—far more than would even cross most people’s minds. These easily understood career concepts, like teachers and police officers, tend to fall to the wayside as children get older, but that doesn’t mean that they should. Teaching, in particular, is both an in-demand career and one that almost everyone has thought about at some time in their lives. Outside of childhood dreams, however, is there a good reason for someone to start a career in teaching?

1. A Universally Appreciated Career

At social functions and first meetings, the question always comes up: “What do you do for a living?” If you’re working a complicated job that’s not easy to sum up, you may be left with little more than unhelpful metaphors or overly long explanations.

Not so for the teacher; every adult you speak to has gone to school and had teachers, both good and bad. They’re likely to share memories of teachers they enjoyed from back in school, or speak about their child’s progress in school, and relationships with their teachers. Everyone understands what a teacher does, why it’s an important career, and the hard work it involves.

This has only become more true in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, where many kids have had to stay home and receive instruction online or from their parents, giving them their first glance in a while at just what all is involved in teaching. Most people, as a result, have a built-in sense of appreciation and respect for teachers which few other careers can claim.

2. Unique Schedules

While many jobs are tied to a 9 to 5 schedule for seemingly no real reason, teaching not only has a schedule unlike any other but one that exists for a purpose. Most school days end around 2-3 PM, although teachers may stay longer, a fact which means they won’t have to deal with rush hour traffic and offers more flexibility for one’s own children.

Teachers also run their work lives off of the school year calendar, which makes for large breaks, such as two months of summer or two weeks of holiday leave in the winter, something rarely seen in other career fields.

Teachers can also work on the year-round schedule, which typically grants three weeks of downtime for every nine weeks of classes. While teaching can be a tough job, these downtime and vacation opportunities ensure that teachers get plenty of time each year to recharge, and come back to work refreshed and ready to start again.

3. Clear Paths of Progression

As befits a role of such importance to the future of the world, teaching is a regulated career requiring very particular education and training. While many people just “fall into” a job, there’s no chance of that happening for a teacher; if you want it, you’ll have to pursue it.

The requirements to be a teacher are different in every state, but there are still plenty of commonalities to draw up a generic path towards this career. First, teachers must attend a college or university and obtain a degree, typically in education.

Within an education degree program, it’s then necessary to pick out an age range which you’ll specialize in, such as early childhood, elementary, or secondary schooling. The programs will cover not only the material you’ll need to know to teach, but also theories of pedagogy, how to plan lessons and grade papers, and other essential knowledge which many might never have considered.

As a degree program draws to a close, students will be tasked with a student teaching experience, where they must take on a live classroom of real children and present them with a complete lesson, all while being guided and evaluated by a fully licensed teacher. With that under their belt, a student can begin working on the passage of standardized tests, such as the PRAXIS exams, which are generally part of the licensing requirements.

Bachelor’s-level education, a student teaching experience, standardized tests, and a clean background check make up the four essentials to be a teacher in most states. Each step builds on the last, making it easy to tell how far you’ve progressed towards your goal.

The journey of progression doesn’t stop once you’ve found a job, however; licenses and certifications in teaching need to be renewed, which means continuing education for yourself as well. Some states, such as Massachusetts, even ask that teachers go on to pursue a master’s degree to obtain a full license. For teachers, there’s always something else to learn, and another goal to achieve.

4. A Lasting, Memorable Impact

As noted above, upon learning that you are a teacher, people tend to volunteer stories of their own experiences with teachers. That’s because teachers can have such a long-lasting impact on their students that even decades later, their interactions stand out.

Teachers can inspire students to learn, both in the classroom and on their own, and their encouragement can lead to a student finding a passion he or she might never have come across on his or her own. According to a study by the Educational Development Trust, teachers inspire students by engaging their imaginations, setting high goals that challenge students, and building trust.

These are the behaviors that cause a teacher to stick out in someone’s mind, that drive students to achieve more than they might ever have dreamed on their own. Among the careers you can train for and secure, there are few that can ensure your life’s work leaves an impact on the world as strong as the one that a teacher does.

If you’re looking for a job that’s respected, has formal, well-explained requirements, frees you from the 9 to 5, and creates a mark on the world, then teaching just might be the career for you. The field of education isn’t a perfect fit for everyone, naturally, but if you have the knowledge to share and a fondness for children, little else can compare.

If you’re looking for a job that’s respected, has formal, well-explained requirements, frees you from the 9 to 5, and creates a mark on the world, then teaching just might be the career for you. The field of education isn’t a perfect fit for everyone, naturally, but if you have the knowledge to share and a fondness for children, little else can compare.