How Do I Become a Teacher?

Becoming a teacher requires a combination of postsecondary education and training on how to be an effective teacher. Read on to learn more about how to become a teacher. Schools offering Teaching & Learning degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Basic Information about a Career in Teaching

Public school teachers in the U.S. must have bachelor's degrees and be licensed by the states where they teach. Usually, states require individuals to pass an exam to receive their licenses. Individuals can become teachers either through a traditional route or an alternative route.

Important Facts about this Occupation

Median Pay*The median annual pay for high school teachers in 2014 was $56,310.
Job Outlook*Employment of individuals in this field is expected to increase by 6% from 2012 to 2022, which is considered slower than average.
Work EnvironmentTeaching can be stressful at times due to lack of resources and large class sizes. High school teachers must work during school hours and must also spend evenings and/or weekends completing other work such as grading papers.
Similar OccupationsChildcare Workers, School Principals, Librarians, School and Career Counselors, Social Workers, Teaching Assistants

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Traditional Route

Most aspiring follow the traditional career route. These individuals earn a bachelor's degree in education, complete teaching practicums, pass a state certification exam, and begin looking for a job. While many teachers earn degrees in education, high school teachers should have degrees in the subject they want to teach, according to the website TeachersCount.org.

Regardless of whether they earn degrees in education or specific subjects, during college, future teachers take classes in education and teach at least one class under supervision of experienced teachers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), student teaching enables individuals to experience a teacher's typical day, including:

  • Grading papers
  • Teaching students
  • Planning lessons and activities
  • Interacting with parents

Alternative Route

Some individuals with a bachelor's degree choose to become teachers after they've started a career in another field. These individuals can earn master's degrees in education to prepare for careers in teaching. Once they've completed their master's programs, they still need to be licensed by the states where they want to teach.

If a student does not want to spend the money or time earning a master's degree, many states offer teacher-training classes. These classes provide intensive training to prepare people to take their state's certification exam, according to the United States Department of Education (www.ed.gov). Individuals who complete these programs can start teaching and earning a salary faster than completing a master's degree.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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