Qualifications for Being a Teacher
Teachers help students in pre-school through high school learn about a variety of subjects ranging from mathematics to foreign languages. Most teachers earn a degree in education followed by becoming licensed by their state. College graduates wanting to transition to a career in education can also take alternative routes to becoming a teacher. Read on to learn more.
Education Requirements to Becoming a Teacher
Aspiring teachers have several options available to them. Some teachers begin their careers by earning a bachelor's degree in education from an accredited college or university. Students in the education major typically have at least two program options to choose from - elementary school education or middle and high school education.
Elementary School Education
Elementary school teachers educate their students in mathematics, language arts and social studies. Accordingly, students wanting to become elementary school teachers take courses in how to teach these subjects. These students also take courses in human development, child psychology, curriculum design and literacy instruction, all of which prepare them to teach classes to younger students. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS, (www.bls.gov) predicts a 17% job growth for kindergarten and elementary school teachers between 2010 and 2020. Additionally, the BLS reported that the median annual salary for kindergarten and elementary school teachers was $53,400 in May, 2012.
Middle and High School Education
Students who plan on teaching at the middle or high school level generally take major-level courses in the subject they wish to teach, in addition to the required teacher education curriculum. For example, students wishing to teach economics to high school seniors may major in economics and education, completing both respective requirements to earn their degree. This helps aspiring middle and high school teachers develop skills in lesson planning and curriculum assessment in their field of interest. The BLS reports that the job market for middle school teachers will grow 17% between 2010 and 2020, and 7% for high school teachers. The BLS also reported that the median annual salary for middle school teachers was $53,430 and $55,050 for high school teachers in May of 2012.
All prospective teachers must participate in professional fieldwork, often included in education degree programs, in which they are assigned to help or teach a class under the supervision of a licensed teacher. This practice helps students gain real world experience as student teachers, monitoring classes and meeting with parents.
While licensure may not be necessary for private school teachers, it is required for all public school teachers. State requirements for teaching licenses vary; however, most include:
- A bachelor's degree
- The completion of a teacher education program
- Supervised teaching experience
- The completion of basic writing and math skills tests
Earning a bachelor's degree in education may be the quickest route to meet these requirements. However, an increasing number of professionals come to a teaching career after years of working in other fields. Some colleges offer alternative certification or licensure programs for professionals who already hold a bachelor's degree in an area other than education. Programs typically last 1-2 years, during which students work as teachers, under the supervision of a mentor teacher, while attending teacher education courses.
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