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How To Become a Teacher

Home >> Career Search Article Directory >> How To Become a Teacher

How to become a Teacher

What teachers do

Teachers use instructional strategies and methods to engage students in learning and to help them gain a deeper understanding of a subject or subjects. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov, 2012) reports duties of teachers may include planning lessons and modules, assessing students on their skills, grading assignments, working with students with particular challenges, and helping prepare students for standardized testing.  Teachers may also work to enforce rules, motivate students and ensure they are prepared to advance to the next grade.

Teachers may need to have physical stamina since they may consistently be on their feet during student instruction. They may need to oversee recess or children’s activities at the elementary school level and monitor hallways, the lunchroom, and parking areas at other grade levels. An understanding of how to use specialized equipment such as Smartboards and similar technology can be helpful.  Teachers can work in public or private schools or in pre-schools, and some may seek employment in specialized positions such as early-elementary education, ESL or gifted and talented instruction.

How to become a teacher

According to the BLS, teachers need to obtain a bachelor’s degree in education to be able to teach at the elementary school level (BLS). To teach at the middle or high school level, most states require teachers to have a bachelor’s degree in a subject area such as science or math (BLS). This could mean pursuing a degree in elementary or secondary education or in a specialty area such as ESL or instruction. Coursework should help students learn how to teach specific types of content, diversify their instruction based on student needs and best manage their students and classrooms (BLS).

Teaching students will usually be required to complete a student teaching component as part of their degree program. Students who have a bachelor’s degree in another field may wish to pursue a master’s degree in education or look for a post-bachelor’s degree program that can lead to licensure. Student teaching will also be required in these programs (BLS).

The steps to becoming a teacher might be similar in some states, but may vary as to specific additional requirements. According to the BLS, the path to becoming a teacher may include some or all of the following (BLS):

  • Successfully complete high school diploma or equivalent
  • Graduate from college with a bachelor’s or master’s degree in education (elementary school)
  • Graduate from college with a bachelor’s or master’s degree in education or a subject area (middle and high school)
  • Complete student teaching as part of that program
  • Pass licensure or certification tests
  • Apply for state licensure or certification
  • Apply for employment
  • Complete continuing education as required

The BLS notes that some states require teachers to pursue a master’s degree after completing undergraduate work.  Teachers may want to complete continuing education hours on their own or do other course work in a specific instruction area. Others may want to work toward becoming a National Board Certified Teacher.

No employment is guaranteed as it may depend on additional training, licensing, certifications or education.

Career outlook for teachers

The BLS projects a growth rate of 17 percent in the employment of kindergarten, elementary and middle school teachers and of 7 percent for high school teachers from 2010 to 2020 nationwide. The BLS attributes potential reasons for growth to increasing student enrollment and decreases in teacher-student ratios. The BLS notes that employment growth may vary by region.  In May 2011, the BLS reported a national annual median wage of $52,840 for elementary-school teachers, $53,130 for middle-school teachers and $54,270 for high-school teachers.   Wage can vary on factors such as degree obtained, school district worked for and additional training completed.

A number of other occupations could be of interest to teachers. This includes working in childcare, in administration or as a principal, in school counseling, or as a librarian.

Earnings may vary based on geographic location, professional experience, training, education and more.

Quick Facts: Teachers
*All facts from BLS.gov*

2011 Median Pay

Kindergarten and elementary school: $52,840

Middle school: $53,310

High school: $54,270

Entry-Level Education

Bachelor’s degree

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

None

On-the-job Training

Internship/residency

Number of Jobs, 2011

Kindergarten and elementary school:  1,415,590

Middle school: 642,820

High school: 1,004,850

Job Outlook, 2010-20

Kindergarten and elementary school: 17 percent

Middle school: 17 percent

High school: 7 percent

Employment Change, 2010-20

Kindergarten and elementary school: 281,500

Middle school: 108,300

High school: 71,900

Sources

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, March 2012, Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Education-Training-and-Library/Kindergarten-and-elementary-school-teachers.htm#tab-1

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2011, 25-2021, Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes252021.htm

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, April 2012, Middle School Teachers, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/middle-school-teachers.htm

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2011, 25-2022, Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes252022.htm

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, April 2012, High School Teachers, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/high-school-teachers.htm#tab-1

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2011, 25-2031, Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes252031.htm

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