Job Opportunities in Education Weaken as 2021 School Year Begins

October 5, 2020

As students across the country return to school in fits and starts amid the ongoing pandemic, job openings in the education sector remain significantly below last year’s levels. Job openings in the education sector overall are down 28 percent year-over-year, according to Glassdoor data as of September 28, 2020. However, the impact has not been equally felt across the sector.

College and university job openings are now down 35 percent year-over-year, with little improvement since bottoming out in early June at -37 percent. By contrast, K-12 education job openings did not collapse until the end of the 2019-2020 school year, exacerbating the normal summer slowdown in hiring. Job openings did improve slightly as the 2020-2021 school year approached, but are still down 25 percent year-over-year.

Lastly, job openings for preschool and child care have not dropped as far as other parts of the education sector, holding between 10 and 20 percent below last year’s levels for much of the crisis. This likely reflects increased demand for child care services as schools and traditional summer programs remained closed and as parents struggled to find care while balancing prolonged work from home schedules. 

Education Sector Job Openings by Job Title

Job openings for some occupations have fared worse than others:

  • Job opening declines for educators themselves, like teachers (-16 percent) and professors (-27 percent), were significant but middling compared to the sector overall.
  • Administrative assistants (-46 percent year-over-year) and education administration (-42 percent) saw some of the largest declines as schools cut back on hiring. Athletic staff also saw larger than average cuts with job openings down 38 percent.
  • Medical staff like nurses (-11 percent) and cleaning staff like custodians (-15 percent), who may be directly needed to respond to the pandemic, saw smaller declines.
  • Support staff like food services (-34 percent), facilities (-35 percent) and drivers (-33 percent) saw larger declines, likely due to partial or complete shutdowns of many campuses.
  • Special education (-1 percent) and tutor (-1 percent) job openings were almost unchanged year-over-year. Tutoring jobs can move online more easily than other teaching jobs, and may be in higher demand by parents who want to supplement remote learning. While requirements for special education vary by state and locality, schools are still required to provide special education services in some capacity, which may be supporting the need for additional workers.

Education Job Openings by Job Title

Job Title Current
Last Year
YoY % Change
Professor/Instructor/Lecturer 26,239 35,935 -27%
Teacher 25,822 30,919 -16%
Education Administration 5,454 9,459 -42%
Special Education 4,875 4,901 -1%
Athletics 4,832 7,798 -38%
Nurse 4,225 4,737 -11%
Tutor 2,914 2,946 -1%
Substitute Teacher 2,683 3,696 -27%
Custodian 2,627 3,077 -15%
Advisor 2,515 3,635 -31%
Teaching Assistant 2,351 4,692 -50%
Postdoc 1,995 2,652 -25%
Food Service 1,943 2,933 -34%
Facilities 1,815 2,804 -35%
Speech Language Pathologist 1,719 2,592 -34%
Research Assistant 1,499 2,010 -25%
Guard/Security 1,471 1,868 -21%
Admin Assistant 1,418 2,602 -46%
Driver 1,213 1,817 -33%
Psychologist 1,110 1,652 -33%

Source: Glassdoor, data last updated Oct 5, 2020


This decline is also notable because the education sector was fairly resilient during the Great Recession of 2008. While some local school districts reduced employment as education budgets were cut, employment overall was largely steady and even rose over the duration of the recession. By contrast, education employment as of August was still short pre-crisis levels by around a million workers.

While a majority of the layoffs during the current crisis are still regarded as temporary, it remains to be seen how many jobs will return and how long it will take for schools to return to normal. The drastic drop in employment in the education sector is another reminder of the unique nature of the pandemic-driven economic crisis.


The job openings data for the selected dates is generated based on the methodology used in Glassdoor’s monthly Job Market Report, which provides a real-time view of hiring trends and wage growth across the U.S. based on millions of online jobs and salaries on Glassdoor. The data represents a snapshot of the number of job openings available on Glassdoor on the highlighted dates.

Year-over-year comparisons are based on the comparable Monday of the previous year. No additional smoothing, averaging or seasonal adjustment for job openings data is performed. Because no smoothing or averaging takes place, the data may not be directly comparable to Glassdoor’s monthly Job Market Report.

An additional caveat to our data is that it doesn’t fully capture the informal child care sector like homeschooling pods or nanny shares, which may be making up an increasingly large portion of the child care and education sectors during the pandemic as many traditional schools and programs are shut down.