Why teaching kindergarten is among the scariest jobs in America

Image: AP Photo/Jim Cole
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

The scariest jobs aren’t necessarily the most dangerous.

In a new survey of more than 3,100 workers from CareerBuilder, kindergarten teachers are among the 10 jobs that strike fear in American workers. Crime scene investigator, mortician, and politician also made the list.

“Workers have told us that the idea of working with young children is scary,” a CareerBuilder spokeswoman told Quartz. But teachers themselves don’t necessarily agree.

“They’re sweet and funny and make me look at things differently every day, ” says Kim Danko, who has taught Kindergarteners for 19 years in Riverside, California.

In addition to germs and the weight of shaping young minds, kindergarten teachers must often deal with larger groups of children than preschool or day care teachers. The average, among 19 OECD countries, is 18 students in Kindergarten for one staff member compared to seven at childcare centers. The largest kindergarten classes are found in Japan, France, Spain, Korea, Italy and Portugal, with more than 20 children per classroom.

“Definitely there’s no down time,” Danko told Quartz.  Her 26 students mostly have  “five-minute attention spans.”  In the US in 2012, the annual median pay for kindergarten teachers was $53,090.

“The parents can be the scary part,” said Danko, noting some have unrealistic expectations or are very demanding or overprotective. They also may show up with questions “at the most inopportune time,” or with unreasonable requests. (Parenting also is among the CareerBuilder scary jobs.)

Let’s hope the survey won’t scare off prospective teachers. The world faces a shortage of teachers with around 1.4 million new primary educators needed by next year and 3.4 million required by 2030.