Spanish Teacher Certification and Career Facts

Learn about the requirements for becoming a Spanish teacher at the elementary, secondary or postsecondary level. Get info on earning your teaching certification to teach Spanish in grade schools and high schools. Review the various job options for Spanish teachers. Schools offering Early Childhood Education degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

Becoming a Spanish teacher requires a minimum of a bachelor's degree, preferably in Spanish, and the exhibition of a high level of proficiency in speaking and writing in Spanish. State licensure or certification is required to teach in public schools, while private schools may simply require profound understanding, and usage, of the language. Careers as a Spanish teacher are varied, from teaching Spanish at public schools to immersion schools where other subjects are taught. Spanish teachers at the university level might teach in the United States or abroad in Spanish-speaking countries like Mexico, Spain or Argentina.

Degrees Bachelor's degree required to teach secondary school; doctorate level usually required for postsecondary teachers
Licensing Certification requirements vary per state, but all states require licensure to teach in public secondary schools
Salary (2017) $59,170 for secondary teachers; $65,010 for postsecondary teachers (median annual salary)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics'

Are Professional Certifications Available?

Foreign language teaching certifications are available through various organizations, including the American Council on Teachers of Foreign Languages and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. In order to become certified, teachers must demonstrate knowledge in Spanish regarding the following:

  • Oral proficiency
  • Written communications
  • Language acquisition
  • Interpreting texts

If you attend an undergraduate program in Spanish with a fast-track certification program, you can earn both designations at one time. This allows you to acquire all the necessary credits and fulfill certification requirements as well. In this case, taking state certification exams after you have completed your coursework certifies you.

If you are interested in teaching at the college or university level, you will most likely need an advanced degree in Spanish. Community colleges require a master's degree, while universities hire Spanish professors with doctoral degrees.

What Kinds of Jobs Are There?

While public schools require at least a bachelor's degree and certification, private schools have more flexibility when it comes to hiring teachers. You might be able to start teaching with a bachelor's degree in a subject other than Spanish if you can demonstrate fluency. Because of the growing Latin American population in the U.S., more and more schools, both public and private, are implementing Spanish language programs.

Spanish teachers work in traditional schools and immersion schools, where subjects like science and history are taught totally or partially in Spanish. Immersion schools exist in many states, but tend to be in places with particularly high percentages of native Spanish speakers, such as California and Florida.

You may also find employment around the world in international schools. Some teacher certification programs focus on preparing students to become teachers abroad. As long as you have a state teacher certification, you can apply to teach in international schools.

At the university level, you might teach courses in Spanish culture, history or literature in addition to language. Some universities have mini-campuses abroad or sponsor language department trips to Spanish speaking countries. As a Spanish language professor, you may find yourself teaching in Argentina, Spain, Costa Rica or Mexico.

What Are My Job Prospects?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects to see an 8% growth for secondary teachers from 2016 to 2026, while postsecondary teachers are expected to see a 15% growth in their industry. In May of 2017, the BLS reported that the median salary for all secondary teachers was $59,170 and $65,010 for postsecondary teachers, but earning additional degrees or certifications, giving private lessons, or teaching summer school can increase a Spanish teacher's yearly income.

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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