It's hard to imagine a job more rewarding (or more challenging) than teaching. It starts with a love of children and a deep respect for the transformative power of education. But a good teacher must also possess near-saintly patience and persistence. It's one thing to be a master of your subject, but another skill altogether to plant a portion of that knowledge in a restless young mind.
There is always a high demand for skilled, caring, effective teachers. As the Baby Boomer workforce begins to retire, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan estimates that the U.S. will need approximately one million new teachers over the next five or six years to make up for the mass exodus [source: NPR]. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the highest growth sectors for teaching over the next 10 years are preschool teachers (19 percent), special education teachers (20 percent), and elementary through middle school teachers (15 and 16 percent) [source: BLS].
To teach children older than preschool age, you not only need a college degree (or even a master's degree), but a license from the state. Many states have instituted an emergency credentialing process to fill high-demand positions, but check with your state department of education before quitting your desk job.