Teachers get to experience the incredible joy of making a difference in people’s lives by helping students gain knowledge and new insights. Teaching programs train you in the academic and practical skills required to teach at the preschool, kindergarten, elementary, middle or high school level. Life as a teacher can be challenging and may not be for everyone, but it can also be an extremely rewarding profession. Instill the love of learning in young people, shape their lives, and help them plan their futures by earning a teaching degree.
Education Degree Requirements
All states require K-12 teachers at public schools to be licensed. Though licensing will vary by state, a bachelor’s degree is typically the minimum requirement. In some states, teachers are required to obtain a master’s degree after they receive their teaching certification. Most states require high school teachers to have majored in the subject area they plan to teach, such as English or chemistry, whereas elementary teachers will typically major only in education and receive a broad education in all subjects.
Education degrees are offered from the associate’s to the doctoral level. A two-year associate’s degree in education may allow you to pursue teaching at a preschool or as a teacher’s aide. However, becoming a licensed teacher will require a four-year bachelor’s degree. Students may choose to focus their undergraduate studies in early childhood education, elementary education, secondary education or special education, among others.
Graduate Degree Types
Graduate degrees in education give teachers additional expertise in advanced areas, such as curriculum deign, instructional technology, and educational administration, among others. You could pursue a Master of Science (MS), Master of Education (Med), Education Specialist (EdS), Doctor of Education (EdD) or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree.
Graduate Degree Length
Master’s degrees in education require two years of study, whereas education specialist degrees are usually 30 to 40 credits beyond the master’s degree. Doctoral degree programs will typically require three to five years to complete and may culminate in a research dissertation.
Curriculum for Teaching Programs
Students in education programs generally establish an academic base in the language arts, math, social science, and science. Education programs provide a blend of theory and practice and require you to complete both academic and professional coursework to successfully prepare you for licensure.
Courses that students in teaching schools may be required to take include the following:
- Introduction to education
- Educational psychology
- Child development
- Instructional strategies
- Reading assessment & instruction
- Classroom management
- Cultural diversity
- Curriculum development
Student Teaching Practicum
Teaching majors are also required to complete student teaching experiences under the supervision of a licensed teacher. Fieldwork builds upon what they learn in the classroom and ensure that they graduate with the skills and knowledge needed to begin a teaching career.
Teaching Career Overview
Teachers teach students from the preschool to the high school level. Kindergarten and elementary school teachers are typically certified to teach preschool through third grade, first through sixth grade or first through eighth grade. Middle school teachers are certified to teach first through sixth grade, first through eighth grade, sixth through eighth grade or seventh through twelfth grade, depending on the state in which they teach. High school teachers are typically awarded a secondary or high school certification, which allows them to teach seventh through twelfth grade.
Subjects You May Teach
Subject that teachers may teach include, math, reading, history, science, social studies, English language and literature, foreign languages, physical education, and art. Elementary teachers are usually required to teach numerous subjects each week with the same class, while secondary school teachers typically teach a single subject with multiple classes of students each day.
Responsibilities of a teacher include preparing lessons, administering and grading assignments and tests, evaluating students progress, communicating with parents, preparing students to meet state and standardized testing requirements, and overseeing classroom discipline, among other duties. Teachers typically work during normal school hours and will have summers off. In addition to pursuing a career as a teacher, education majors may also seek additional employment opportunities in curriculum design or education administration.
Employment Outlook in Teaching
From 2012 to 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that positions for elementary and middle school teachers will increase by 12% in the coming decade, which will be about as fast as average. Special education, high school, and principal positions should increase by 6%, which is slower than average. Employment for instructional coordinators is projected increase by13%. The employment of educators depends on local and state budgets and is expected to be best in the South and West.
In 2013, the median annual salaries for teaching positions were:
- Preschool teachers– $27,570
- Elementary school teachers– $53,590
- Middle school teachers– $53,940
- Secondary school teachers– $55,360
- Education administrators– $88,380
- Instructional coordinators– $60,610
Joining an Education Program
Becoming a teacher is one of the most rewarding things you could do with your life, but it can also be very stressful and demanding. If you have a strong desire to make a difference, enjoy working with young people, and are extremely patient, teaching may be the right career for you. If you could envision yourself guiding future generations in the classroom, start working towards your teaching degree today.