As a teacher of a specific subject, you'll provide children with instruction in math, history, science or English, among other major content areas. If you're passionate about a certain subject, keep reading to learn more about degree and licensing requirements for public and private school teachers.
Teachers at the elementary, middle and secondary school levels are responsible for educating children in their formative years. Although generally rewarding, a career as an educator might occasionally involve having to work with disrespectful and difficult students. As a teacher, your responsibilities will probably include creating lesson plans, presenting information, administering examinations and maintaining discipline in the classroom. Teachers also evaluate and assess students for progress and communicate with parents.
Elementary teachers typically teach multiple subjects. Middle and high school teachers, on the other hand, are expected to specialize in a specific subject.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for kindergarten, elementary and middle school teachers was projected to grow by 12% nationwide between 2012 and 2022, with a slower-than-average 6% growth in jobs expected for high school teachers. Opportunities for employment may be more prevalent in urban and rural school districts, especially for teachers who are proficient in a foreign language and comfortable working with diverse student populations. At the high school level, chemistry, English and physics teachers are especially in demand; elementary and middle school teachers who specialize in English as a Second Language (ESL) may also have an easier time finding a job.
As of May 2013, kindergarten and elementary school teachers earned average salaries of $52,840 and $56,320, respectively. That same year, the average yearly salary for middle school teachers was $56,630, while secondary school teachers earned an average of $58,260 a year (www.bls.gov).
Most teachers at elementary, middle and secondary schools have obtained at least a bachelor's degree from a teacher education program. Instructional strategies for teaching a major content area like art, music, literature or social studies may be a key part of your program. In addition, courses in educational philosophy, teaching methods and psychology may be required. You can find programs accredited by both the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council.
Every state requires public school teachers to obtain a license; however, this requirement may not apply to candidates who are interested in teaching in private schools. Teacher training programs typically include classroom observations and student teaching experiences that take place under the guidance of a working teacher. Practical teaching experiences are typically found in state licensing regulations, which can vary from state to state. If you've already earned a bachelor's degree in your specific subject, you may pursue an alternative licensing program, which typically require 1-2 years of supervised classroom experience.
Once you have experience in the classroom, you can earn voluntary national certification through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. While not required, professional certification may lead to a higher salary for educators. Certifications are valid for ten years, and the renewal process must begin 1-2 years before it expires. This certification cannot replace a state license.