What steps do I need to take in order to become a teacher?
Each state has different requirements, but here are some general guidelines:
Earn your bachelor’s degree: All states require at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, and some states require a master's degree. A broad liberal arts undergraduate education will help prepare you for a career as a teacher.
Research different teaching jobs: Talk to teachers, volunteer in a classroom, and evaluate your strengths and past school experiences. There’s quite a difference between managing a classroom of 20 kindergartners, leading five high school algebra classes in a day, and coaching a girl’s varsity basketball team.
Research your state’s teaching certification requirements: Each state has different requirements. Most states have several levels of credentials for teachers and varying certifications based on the age group or subject area taught. Also, if you know which school district you’re interested in working in, call their personnel office and find out what their requirements are. Find your state’s department of education web site.
Complete an accredited teacher education program: Across the country there are hundreds of education programs and no two are the same. Most post-baccalaureate programs take one-to-two years to complete.
Pass teacher examinations: You’ll need to pass either a state test or the widely used PRAXIS exam. The good news is that these tests are graded on a pass/fail basis.
Become certified as a teacher: Your teacher education program will help you complete your requirements, including finishing your student teaching, taking the mandatory tests for your subject area, and applying for certification in your state.
Where do teachers work?
The majority of teachers work in the public school education system teaching grades kindergarten through twelve. The remainder of teachers work in parochial or private schools, which may have a specific emphasis such as religion, the arts, or an educational philosophy; others serve special needs or gifted children.
How long does it take to become a teacher?
There are several paths to becoming a teacher, at minimum you’ll need to complete a four-year bachelor’s degree program:
What qualities do successful teachers possess?
In addition to being knowledgeable in their subjects, they must have the ability to inspire trust and confidence, and motivate students, as well as understand each student’s unique educational and emotional needs.
What are the typical prerequisites for entering a teaching program?
All post-baccalaureate programs require a bachelor’s degree, but individual course requirements vary. Many schools require an undergraduate GPA above 3.0 and passage of a test such as the PRAXIS I, which tests basic math, reading and writing skills.
Do private schools require a teaching credential?
Private schools are not regulated by the state government and can set their own requirements. While some private schools require credentials to be hired, many do not. You’ll need to contact private schools directly to learn what is required to teach in that particular school.
How do elementary and secondary teaching credentials differ?
Elementary school teaching credentials are usually generalist, which means the teacher can teach a wide variety of subjects. Middle and secondary school teachers specialize in a specific subject, such as English, Spanish, mathematics, history, or biology. Aspiring secondary school teachers either major in the subject they plan to teach while also taking education courses, or major in education and take subject courses.
How will I gain experience in the classroom before I get my credential?
All teacher education programs have a student teaching component. Some teacher education programs require up to 900 hours of student teaching in a classroom setting. Many institutions now offer student teaching as soon as possible so that teaching candidates can better understand schools from a teacher’s point of view.
Should I earn a certificate or master’s degree?
Some states require teachers to have a master's degree, be sure to check out your state's requirements. Otherwise, the choice between earning a certificate or a master's depends on your personal goals and how fast you’d like to begin teaching. Basic teaching certificate programs can have you in the workforce within ten months, but master’s programs tend to take a little longer. Teachers with master’s degrees tend to earn more money and have more room for career growth. You’ll need additional preparation and possibly a master’s degree to become a school librarian, reading specialist, curriculum specialist, administrator or guidance counselor.
What is the salary range for teachers?
Salaries vary widely depending on geographic area and level of education. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual earnings of kindergarten, elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers ranged from $37,610 to $42,080 in 2000; top 10 percent earned $57,590 to $64,920. The American Federation of Teachers, found that beginning teachers with a bachelor's degree earned an average of $27,989 in the 1999-2000 school year.
Teachers with master's degrees or national certification often have higher salaries. Private school teachers generally earn less than public school teachers. Some teachers earn extra income teaching summer school, tutoring or performing other jobs in the school system.
How many hours do teachers work?
Most teachers work over 40-hours per week including class time, parent conferencing and curriculum preparation. But the traditional two-month summer vacation is a perk for over-worked teachers. During the vacation break, they may teach in summer sessions, take other jobs, travel, or pursue other personal interests. Many enroll in college courses or workshops to continue their education. Teachers in districts with a year-round schedule typically work eight weeks, are on vacation for one week, and have a five-week midwinter break.
What career opportunities will I have as a teacher?
Teachers may become administrators or supervisors, although the number of these positions is limited and competition can be keen. In some systems, highly qualified, experienced teachers can become senior or mentor teachers, which means higher pay and additional responsibilities while guiding and assisting less experienced teachers. A master's degree is often required to become a director or department head.
Adapted from: All Education Schools: Your Complete Guide to Colleges of Education, 2005