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How to Become a Math Teacher in 5 Steps

Explore the career requirements for a math teacher. Get the facts about degree options and licensing to determine if this is the right career for you.

What Does a Math Teacher Do?

Math teachers use the curriculum guidelines to develop age-appropriate lessons for their students. Through these lessons they teach students mathematical concepts. They use tests and assignments to assess the progress of their students, record student grades, and may meet with parents to discuss their child's progress. Elementary school teachers would teach math as part of their day, but they normally teach many other subjects as well. Middle and high school teachers can focus exclusively on teaching mathematics. Math teachers may work at public schools or private schools.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree; master's degree
Education Field of Study Bachelor of Science in Mathematics; Bachelor of Science in Education with a math concentration; other paths available
Key Responsibilities Teach basic math, algebra, geometry, calculus and advanced mathematics
Licensure License required by all states
Job Growth (2018-2028)* 3% for kindergarten and elementary school teachers
3% for middle school teachers
4% for high school teachers
Median Salary (2018)* $57,980 for kindergarten and elementary school teachers
$58,600 for middle school teachers
$60,320 for high school teachers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is a Math Teacher?

The concepts taught by math teachers vary greatly and relate directly to the grade level. In elementary school, mathematics lessons focus on simple operations, including addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, along with basic geometry and measurement. As an elementary school teacher, mathematics would likely be only one subject of several you would teach. At the middle school level, you'll need to be more specialized, instructing students in subjects such as algebra, data analysis and geometry. As a high school math teacher you would offer your students a range of classes, including algebra, pre-calculus and calculus, advanced geometry, statistics and trigonometry.

Step 1: Research Education Options

As an aspiring math teacher, you may want pursue degrees such as a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics Education or a Bachelor of Science in Education with a concentration in mathematics. You may also consider education degree programs, which specialize in a level of education, such as early childhood education or secondary education. You'll need to get your degree from an accredited 4-year college or university prior to seeking teacher licensure and to qualify for some certifications. You may also need to earn a master's or doctoral degree to qualify for licensing in some states.

Step 2: Begin Career Preparation in High School

You can begin pursuing your educational and career goals by taking a variety of math and computer science classes in high school and by volunteering for a tutoring or mentoring program. In addition, you may also join a math club or the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) as a student member (www.nctm.org).

Step 3: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

To become a math teacher, you may earn a bachelor's degree with an education component. Degree options may include a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics Education, a Bachelor of Science in Education with a concentration in math, a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education with a concentration in math or a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics with a focus on the middle or high school levels. If you wish to teach math to elementary students, you may enroll in a program like a Bachelor of Science in Early Elementary Education with a concentration in math.

Step 4: Obtain Teacher Licensure

Each state requires public school teachers to earn teacher licensure. Although standards differ from state to state, most states will require you to earn at least a bachelor's degree, complete a teacher-training program with classes and supervised teaching as well as pass a basic skills exam. As a math teacher, you also may have to demonstrate additional knowledge in your subject area.

Some states offer alternative certification programs if you have a degree in an area other than education. This option will allow you to begin working in a classroom setting while pursuing your teaching license. These programs and licensure requirements are handled by each state's Department of Education.

Step 5: Get an Advanced Degree

Many states require elementary, middle and high school teachers to earn their master's degree within a set number of years from the beginning of their teaching careers. A master's degree is also needed if you want to teach at a postsecondary institution. Advanced degree options you may consider include a Master of Science in Mathematics Education or a joint master's degree in mathematics and education. Another possibility is for you to earn a doctoral degree in mathematics education.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

English, history, Spanish, science, art, music, physical education, health and other teachers perform the same basic duties as math teachers, except that they do not teach mathematical concepts but instruct students in their designated subject. Like math teachers they need a degree and teaching license to teach in public schools. They prepare lesson plans, teach classes, evaluate student performance and meet with parents to discuss their child's progress. The work that teachers do at the middle and high school levels is similar; the main difference is the age of their students. Instructional coordinators need a master's degree, and they determine what materials and concepts should be on the school curriculum for each subject at each grade level. Career and technical education teachers need a bachelor's degree, and perform the same functions as a teacher, except they focus on trades and vocational programs, such as auto repair or culinary training.