Overrated Career: Teacher

Helping the next generation flower sounds like a great vocation.

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The Appeal: Helping the next generation flower sounds like a great vocation. Plus you get summers off. Teachers have good job security, too, with benefits that are often more generous than those in the private sector. And...you get summers off. If you stick with the career, salaries can approach six figures. On top of that, you get summers off!

The Reality: In many public schools, classes are grouped at random, which means one class can include special ed students, gifted kids, and foreign-born children who speak little English. Trying to meet all their needs can be exhausting, if not impossible. Government rules often put pressure on instructors to teach all students high-level material, even if it's over their heads. And summers aren't sacrosanct: Increasingly, teachers are required to work, or "volunteer," for part of the summer.

Alternatives: Teacher at a private school aimed at students of a particular ability level, corporate trainer, or instructor teaching adults English as a second language. Many people also hire tutors, who can work from home or for a chain like Score, Sylvan Learning, Princeton Review, or Kaplan.