A teacher's goal is to advance their students' learning and cognitive abilities during the school year. Teachers have students that range in age from two or three years old up to adult learners of all ages. Some teachers focus on a single subject or even a single aspect of that subject, while others spend their day teaching several subjects. Teachers may have the same group of students every day, or they may see hundreds of students in a large lecture hall. But the goal of teachers and administrators alike is to ensure the success of their students and see them achieve all educational goals.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, more than 8 million teachers and related training, support, and library workers were employed in the United States as of 2012. Elementary school teachers represented the largest segment of employment, with just under 2 million teaching positions. Secondary school teachers accounted for just over 1 million workers, and teacher assistants numbered about 1.1 million. Almost 1.5 million postsecondary teachers were also employed.

The industry has its beginnings in the early 17th century, when American colonists first began establishing elementary schools. Today the modern education industry can be divided into four main areas: preschool, elementary education, secondary education, and postsecondary education. Preschool teachers work with children of the youngest age, usually age three to five. Elementary school teachers are those at the kindergarten through sixth grade level, while secondary teachers instruct students at the middle and high school levels. College and university instructors and professors teach at the postsecondary level.

In addition to teachers, other employees in education are teacher assistants, librarians, administrators, and those who teach special populations of children, such as those with disabilities.

Educators may work at public schools, private schools, in the home as tutors or online classroom instructors, or at charter schools.

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