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Middle School Teacher: Employment Info & Qualifications

Middle school teachers work in private or public schools offering classroom instruction to students in grades five through eight in subjects like math, science, or English. Read further to learn about the education requirements, salary and employment outlook for this profession.

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Career Definition

Middle school teachers foster intellectual and individual development of children between the fifth and eighth grades, either within the elementary school or in a separate school dedicated specifically to this age group. Middle school teachers design age-specific curricula, prepare activities, administer tests, grade assignments, and enforce discipline in the classroom.

How to Become a Middle School Teacher

Required Education

All teachers are expected to have at least a bachelor's degree, and public schools require a teaching license; private schools may or may not require the same license. Requirements for obtaining the license vary by state. Optimal education for middle school teachers will be a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university in an area of specialization (English, history, etc.), along with a teaching certificate. Another possibility, though now less favored by employers, is a more general bachelor's degree in early childhood education. Though middle school teachers are not required to earn a master's degree, additional certification and a higher degree in education may offer a more competitive salary and better career options. Teachers with extensive on-the-job experience and education may be able to move ahead into a position as mentor, guidance counselor, supervisor, program director, or school principal.

Required Skills

Middle school teachers are just as involved in teaching as they are in personal development. One minute they are involved in the lesson plan, and the next, in helping a student set a new personal goal or share ideas with his/her peers. Yet the biggest challenge for middle school teachers comes from outside the academic curricula. Faced with the lowest retention rate among elementary school teachers, the most essential skills for middle school teachers might prove to be good humor and an ability to turn student's anger, hostility, and raging hormones into a lesson and a memorable experience.

Career and Economic Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), the median annual salary among middle school teachers was reported as $53,430 in May 2012. Private school teachers usually earn less, but they sometimes receive other benefits, such as subsidized housing or childcare discounts. The BLS predicted that employment of middle school teachers is projected to increase by 12% between 2012 and 2022.

Alternate Career Options

Teacher Assistant

Individuals wishing to enter a career working in schools more quickly might consider completing some postsecondary courses or an associate's degree to find employment working under the direction of a teacher to give students extra instruction, attention or supervision. From 2012-2022, the BLS expected positions for teacher assistants to grow at an average pace of 9%. In 2012, these assistants earned an annual median salary of $23,640, per the BLS.

Career and Technical Education Teacher

These teachers provide instruction in vocational and technical areas, such as culinary arts, healthcare and auto repair. Employers usually require a bachelor's degree and work experience in the related subject matter for these positions. Public school teachers typically need to be certified or licensed as well. Average employment growth of 9% was projected by the BLS for this profession from 2012-2022. The BLS also reported median earnings of $51,910 per year for career and technical education teachers as of 2012.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics