When I was younger, the word education for me meant receiving instruction and strict teachers who I call, ‘madams’. In my naïve little world then, I equated education to the tutelage received from angry looking madams that always dressed appropriately. It was these madams that instilled the pride associated with accomplishing basic goals in reading and writing in us. They were the women who allowed us to proceed through the next grade, form and eventually to college.

With time, I realised that lessons from the madams was just one aspect of education. There are also policy makers, administrators, researchers, project analysts, area experts and numerous education development practitioners at different levels. These experts work towards collectively improving the quality of teaching and learning in any system.

The process that leads many to the teaching vocation is pretty clear and straightforward to some. However, having realised the versatility of the sector, I concluded that there was no one formula to getting ahead in education. Rather, there are certain basic principles that you need to follow to launch and maintain a successful career in education.

Passion is half the battle won

I am a strong believer of the mantra, “passion is half the battle won”. When you are hungry and starving for a specific goal, you are more likely to be successful. When you have the drive to achieve something, you will chase after the best results. You won’t rest until you have left your mark in your specific area of interest.

Start with the basics

Basic education in your area of choice is the much needed support structure to quickly launch your career in education. Many people go for any first degree and then struggle towards getting employed after. Don’t be one of them. You should carefully choose what course to enroll in at uni considering the area you’d like to be an expert in.

While receiving basic instruction in your field of interest, you will learn the theoretical aspects of your trade. This will be what you put into practice once employed. Volunteering as a student also allows you to put into practice what you’ve learned at university and to start creating a name for yourself in your industry.

Write academic papers

Researching and writing academic papers on your subjects of choice is what will turn you into a specialist. While everyone has an opinion on educational topics, it takes a well recognised author, who has done the research (be it primary or secondary) on specific aspects, and produced papers with demonstrated and verifiable results to be taken seriously.

It is the specialists that get to influence the decisions of policy makers and development agendas. They are also the ones who guide the way other academics think and move in the education sector.

Be dynamic

As the world is dynamic and constantly changing, any career path has to be similarly open to change. It is key to keep up with innovations in the education sector so as to remain relevant. For example, the increasing use of the internet to disseminate information on subjects should be taken into account for career development. Online courses make it easier for students to familiarize with their field of choice and areas of growth and opportunity. This can be employed by educators to spice up their trade.

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