Careers in Education

The Education, Democracy, and Justice (EDJ) Major and Education Minor provide a strong foundation for those who are interested in a career in teaching, especially those who wish to teach in underserved public schools. There are also other career options EDJ students might consider. Below we provide information and interviews with professionals whose careers showcase such options. Some career paths require several years of experience as a K-12 Teacher, such as a School Principal, whereas others can be pursued directly after earning the EDJ degree, such as School Psychologist. 

To help you better understand each career, we have included interviews with professionals representing each career option. In each 20-30 minute interview, they share their career path, the rewards and challenges of their position, and offer advice for those considering the work.  We hope these resources will help you to learn more about career choices after earning the EDJ major or minor. Of course, this is not a complete list of possible careers, but rather an exploration of some of the careers that UCSC students have, over the years, expressed some interest in.  

We’d like to give a big “thank you” to each of our interviewees. They were excited about inspiring the next generation of educators committed to Education, Democracy, and Justice. 

Become a…K-12 Credentialed Teacher

As an EDJ student, you may have had the opportunity to connect with various K-12 teachers (in EDUC 180, for instance) who shared their experiences and advice. Many EDJ majors and minors begin their careers in public school teaching, and many enroll in UCSC’s Masters/Credential (MAC) program. We encourage you to consider UCSC’s MAC program, especially if you had a rewarding experience in the EDJ major or minor.  To teach in elementary school, you would pursue a multiple subject credential. To teach in middle or high school, you would pursue a single subject credential (and typically major in that subject as an undergrad). Here’s an interview with Curtis Wright, a former middle school English teacher in New Jersey, who shares what inspires him about teaching.  

Become a…School Psychologist

Psychology is a very popular major at UCSC, and many psychology students express an interest in careers related to their academic focus. School psychologists must be certified by the state of California and earn a Master's degree. After completing a school psychology MA program, most graduates find a position quickly because school psychologists are in high demand. Consider enrolling in PSYC1 and PSYC10 at UCSC to explore. Our interview with Mitzi Poetzinger, School Psychologist, at San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District, reveals the importance of this work. Here’s the link to Mitzi’s interview

Become an…Educational Policy Analyst

Students taking EDJ classes often grow very interested in how educational policy shapes the experiences of students in schools. The field of education policy, however, employs many fewer professionals than we might expect.  Dr. Brad Olsen, Educational Policy Analyst at The Brookings Institution in Washington DC, explains the work he does in exciting detail. Dr. Olsen is a former faculty member here in the Education Department and taught hundreds of undergraduates during his time at UCSC (2003-2019). Here’s the link to Brad’s interview

Become a… School Administrator/Principal

The job of a school principal may not immediately come to mind for undergraduates. Of course, one must spend at least 3-5 years as a K-12 teacher before becoming qualified to be a principal, but for those teachers who might enjoy leadership roles, this is a wonderful career path. Here is an interview with Veronica Aguilar, Principal, Alianza Charter School, Pájaro Valley Unified School District.  

Become a…School Counselor

The work of school counselor typically takes place at middle or high schools in the state of California, although some elementary schools are hiring counselors, too. Counselors are tasked with helping students with their schedule and post graduation plans, but they are also responsible for providing emotional and mental health support to adolescents. Consider enrolling in PSYC1 and PSYC10 at UCSC to explore. Our interview with Maureen Brandi, School Counselor Aptos High School, Pájaro Valley Unified School District, will help you decide if this career is right for you. 

Other careers that might interest you:

  • Speech Therapist - pursue a Master’s degree and a California State License. See this website for more information.
  • Outdoor Educator - pursue a bachelor's degree in STEM or related field. A credential or license may be required. See this website for more information.
  • Curriculum Developer - will generally have several years of teaching experience, but some begin work with a bachelor's degree only. 
  • Community College Professor/Teacher - pursue a Master’s or Doctoral degree in their subject area (e.g, mathematics, literature). A Community College Teaching Certificate may also be required.
  • University Professors - pursue a PhD in their subject area (e.g, biology, psychology, mathematics)  

If you’d like to begin exploring where you can earn the degrees and credentials for some of the careers above, you can start by visiting this
website, sponsored by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing* (CTC). The Education Department here at UCSC offers teaching credentials for elementary (Grades K-6 = Multiple Subject Credential) and secondary (Grades 6-12, Single Subject Credentials: English, History/Social Science, Mathematics and Science) teachers. UCSC does not offer degree/credential programs in school psychology, counseling, special education, or school administration. Check SJSU for some of these options.

If you’d like to discuss your post-baccalaureate options further, please contact Amy Raedeke, Undergraduate Advisor ( or the Chair of the Undergraduate Programs Committee. You will also want to attend our annual “Careers in Education” workshop. Look out for an email/flyer with more information. 

*The word “Teacher” in the title is misleading. The CTC grants credentials (licenses) for a wide range of school professionals (e.g., school psychology, special education, counseling, administration and other fields). 

**Other states will have similar requirements, which can be found on each state’s education licensing website.


See also UCSC Career Success Resources