Middle School Teacher: Requirements to Teach Middle School

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a middle school teacher. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and licensure requirements to find out if this is the career for you.

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Essential Information

Middle school teachers need postsecondary degrees. They usually specialize in a subject area, such as history, English or mathematics. All states require public school teachers to be state-licensed. In order to earn a license, completion of at least a bachelor's program with a student teaching experience is required.

Required Education Bachelor's degree with student-teaching requirements; some employers require a master's degree within a set amount of time for professional teachers
Other Requirements State license or certification
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)* 12%
Median Salary (2013)* $53,940 annually

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Educational Requirements to Teach Middle School

Middle school teachers deliver education to students in grades six, seven and eight. They are trained to understand the psychological, social and intellectual development of children aged 10-14 and to increase their motivation to learn. Like high school teachers, they specialize in teaching specific subjects.

The usual path to teaching middle school in a public institution is to get a bachelor's degree with a major in the subject one will teach, a minor in education, practical classroom experience and a state license. Undergraduates who wish to become teachers are encouraged to declare that interest by applying to an education program early in their college career. The application process often includes an essay, personal interview and determination of a student's fitness to teach. While state licensure isn't mandated for private or parochial institutions, these middle schools often require teachers to be certified and experienced.

Alternative Education Programs

College graduates who have not taken teacher education courses can get the education and training necessary for employment through alternative licensure programs. These accelerated programs allow aspiring teachers to start teaching right away, provisionally, while taking teacher education courses in their off hours.

Required Coursework

Generally, aspiring middle school teachers major in a subject that is taught at this level, such as English, language arts, math, science, social science, Spanish, French, German or theater. Typically, the student minoring in middle school education will need to take 27 credit hours of education coursework, some of which is specific to this grade level.

Courses may examine literacy development in the middle grades, the psychology of early adolescence and subject-specific methods, such as the methods of teaching middle school math. Education programs typically incorporate supervised fieldwork that provides classroom experience and feedback from veteran teachers.

State Licensure

Graduates with the appropriate coursework are tested and awarded licenses by the states in which they work. Middle school licensing usually requires three exams on basic skills, the subject taught and teaching methods.

Voluntary Certification

Qualified middle school educators wishing to advance their careers can obtain further professional recognition through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). Certificates are in various competencies; for example, those who teach science at this level can become certified as early adolescent science teachers. The process is based on the submission of a portfolio prepared to NBPTS guidelines and reviewed by a committee (www.nbpts.org).

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