Educational Requirements for Becoming a Teacher
Teachers need to be good communicators, inspire trust and be able to motivate others. In addition, they must learn how to educate others, measure progress and identify learning disabilities.
How to Become a Teacher
A teacher instructs and evaluates students. Learning materials and assessments include homework, quizzes, tests and exams. Teachers create lesson plans, assemble required materials and customize instruction to meet the needs of individual students. The route to becoming a teacher involves formal education, hands-on training and state licensing.
All public school teachers must have state certification in the state where they live. Teaching licenses may specify that the teacher is qualified to teach a particular subject or range of grades. Private schools do not require teachers to be certified but usually look for teachers with at least a bachelor's degree. In order to receive a teaching license, prospective teachers must complete an approved program and pass state teaching exams.
Preschool teacher requirements vary by state, employer and the source of funding for the program. A few programs require only a high school diploma or associate's degree, but most require a bachelor's degree in child development or early childhood education. Some programs may require a national Child Development Association (CDA) credential.
Federally funded programs such as Head Start require all preschool teachers have at least an associate's degree by the year 2011, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Teachers who teach in pre-kindergarten programs in public schools must be licensed in early childhood education.
Kindergarten and Elementary Teacher
Public school teachers must have a bachelor's degree in elementary education. An elementary license allows a teacher to teach kindergarten through sixth grade in most states. A future teacher must also complete a supervised practicum or student teaching internship. Some states also require a teacher to earn a master's degree within a specified time after beginning teaching. Since elementary teachers instruct in all subjects, they take classes in math, reading, science and social studies methods.
Middle School Teacher
A public middle school teacher must have a bachelor's degree in childhood education and complete a student teaching internship. A middle school license usually allows the teacher to teach grades five through eight. Most middle school teachers must have a certain number of credit hours in the subject area they wish to teach. This subject area may be indicated as an endorsement on their teaching certificate. Areas of endorsement include language arts, math, science, physical education, foreign language and special education.
Teachers in public secondary schools must have earned a bachelor's degree in the subject they are going to teach, as well as completing a program of study in secondary education. Secondary school teaching licenses qualify teachers to teach up through grade 12 but may include some middle school grades. Some high schools may look for teachers with master's degrees. High schools hire teachers in core academic areas and the fine and applied arts.
Teachers at a 4-year university or college usually need a doctoral degree in the subject they will be teaching. Universities and colleges sometimes hire teachers with a master's degree for part-time positions. Community colleges typically require a master's degree for most full-time positions. Vocational and technical colleges require a bachelor's degree in the subject of instruction.
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