Teaching Native American Education

Native American education concerns the art, culture, history and contemporary life of peoples descended from the indigenous inhabitants of North America. Continue reading to learn more about the topics covered in these programs and opportunities in the field.

Is Teaching Native American Studies for Me?

Overview of the Field

Degree programs in Native American studies are available at the associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree levels. Graduate certificates are also available. If you want to teach, you could pursue a program that includes education coursework or earn a separate teaching certificate.

Career Options

Training in Native American education can lead you to a career in a traditional classroom, educating your students about the history, art, lifestyle and culture of the indigenous peoples of North America. You could also work as a teacher on Native American Indian reservations. According to the United States Census Bureau, approximately 1.2%, or 382,484, of the 316,873,685 people who were living in the country that year identified themselves as American Indians or Alaskan Natives (www.census.gov).

Teaching positions may be available at the middle school, high school or college levels. As reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), about 620,900 people taught in middle schools and nearly a million taught in high schools in May 2012. The BLS also reported that about 9,710 university professors taught cultural studies that same year (www.bls.gov).

Required Skills

As a teacher, you should be confident, an excellent communicator and knowledgeable about your field. You also need to be able to motivate your students.

Employment and Salary Information

The BLS projected that employment of middle school teachers would increase by 12%, while university professors nationwide would see job opportunities rise faster than average by 19% between 2012 and 2022. However, employment of high school teachers was projected to increase by just 6% during the same decade, which is slower than average.

As of May 2013, the median annual salary for middle school teachers was $53,940 and for high school teachers it was $55,360, according to the BLS. The median annual salary for cultural studies professors was $66,770 as of May 2013 (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Work in Teaching Native American Education?

Educational Requirements

To become a high school teacher or a middle school teacher, you must earn at least a bachelor's degree with a teaching certification. To work at a public school in any of the 50 states, you must also have a teaching license, which you can earn by taking a licensure exam through your state's board of education. With a bachelor's degree in Native American studies, you could pursue an advanced degree in a related field, such as anthropology, cultural studies, history or Native American languages.

Undergraduate Programs

Through an associate's or a bachelor's degree program in Native American studies, you may explore topics that affect Native Americans today, including political status, cultural philosophies, contemporary issues, health problems and economics. Coursework may also cover tribal art, films, archaeology and American Indian languages. As a graduate, you'll be prepared to challenge your students' preconceptions and stereotypical views of Native Americans, and teach them what life was and is like for indigenous peoples.

Graduate Programs

Some schools offer master's and doctoral degree programs in Native American studies; individual anthropology programs may allow for a specialization in the same field of study. Additional areas of concentration might include American Indian education, Native American societies or Native American literature. Depending on your course of study, you may study the laws and political issues that affect Native Americans, everyday life of Native American men and women, religious beliefs and the effects of racism on culture. This could lead to a job as a college professor.

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