How to Become a Teacher
Teacher Careers & Degrees

The educational field would not be complete without the daily work that teachers provide in the classroom.

From planning lessons to teaching curriculum, grading school work and administering tests, teachers play an important role in teaching the younger generations.

Individuals who want to become a Teacher will need to complete a variety of steps in order to enter this profession.

Individuals will need to fulfill educational requirements, become licensed according to their state requirements and have personal characteristics and skills in order to succeed in this profession.

Some helpful innate personal characteristics include: working with groups of students, patience to be able to work with students at different levels and communication skills to be able to work with other school staff.

Education Requirements to Become a Teacher

Individuals who want to become a Teacher will need to fulfill several requirements in order to enter this profession.

Individuals will need to complete a postsecondary degree, fulfill state requirements by passing a background test and becoming certified and gaining on the job training in order to work in the classroom.

The minimum educational requirement to become a Teacher is a bachelor’s degree.

Individuals can also complete a master’s degree in education to enter this profession.

Individuals have the option of studying elementary education for teaching positions in elementary schools.

Individuals who want to teach middle school or high school students will focus on the content area they would like to teach in.

Biology, mathematics and English are some common focus areas for individual to major in when preparing to become a Teacher in middle or high school.

An individual who doesn’t major in education but a specialized field such as mathematics or English can enter an educational program after attaining their bachelor’s degree.

These programs are focused on training individuals to build curriculum and lesson plans and then teach them to students in a classroom setting.

You may learn more information about teaching programs in your state by visiting TEACH or Teach for America.

Teachers who work for public schools are required to become licensed in order to enter this profession.

Requirements will vary by state; individuals are encouraged to contact their state for specific licensing requirements.

Candidates with an advanced degree have better job prospects.

Teacher Job Description

Teachers are responsible for preparing lessons, creating curriculum, giving lessons, create and hand out assignments related to a lesson, grade and prepare students for state tests.

Teachers are also responsible for providing classroom management to ensure students are in environment where they are able to learn.

Teachers are experienced in determining students’ strength, skills and abilities and structuring the lesson plans and assignments to accommodate how students are progressing.

They must follow state regulations to make sure that topics are taught at the required educational level.

They must also prepare their students to take state tests that assess students in a variety of topics at their grade level.

Teacher Salary and Career Path

Wages for Teachers will depend on a variety of factors including location, educational background and educational level they are teaching.

Elementary, middle school and high school teachers all earn different amounts.

In 2012, the median wage for Kindergarten and Elementary school teachers was approximately $53,090 per year.

That same year, Middle school Teachers earned a median salary of $53,430 per year while High School Teachers earned an annual median wage of approximately $55,050.

The job outlook for Teachers will also depend on the level that they teach.

High school teachers can expect a job growth of approximately 6 percent through the year 2022 which is considered a slower than average growth.

Kindergarten, Elementary and Middle school Teachers can expect a job growth of 12 percent through the year 2022.

This growth is considered as fast as average when compared to other professions.

Teachers play a vital role in the classroom providing instruction and guidance to a group of students.

So vital in fact, that the majority of people have memories of their favorite teacher and the life lessons and influence that is created.

Individuals who are preparing for this career have many incentives in entering this field.

The below information is based on the 2019 BLS national averages.
  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary

$63,930
$39K
$47K
$63K
$77K
$97K
10%
25%
50%
75%
90%

Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
Alabama$50,270
Alaska$75,860
Arizona$45,600
Arkansas$48,800
California$82,560
Colorado$54,670
Connecticut$78,070
Delaware$63,970
District of Columbia$79,390
Florida$55,210
Georgia$58,190
Hawaii$63,360
Idaho$48,880
Illinois$63,280
Indiana$52,570
Iowa$53,950
Kansas$50,650
Kentucky$52,660
Louisiana$48,630
Maine$52,860
Maryland$75,380
Massachusetts$82,450
Michigan$69,050
Minnesota$63,250
Mississippi$44,060
Missouri$50,920
Montana$52,160
Nebraska$60,390
Nevada$56,980
New Hampshire$59,930
New Jersey$71,880
New Mexico$57,330
New York$82,830
North Carolina$48,560
North Dakota$55,630
Ohio$64,090
Oklahoma$45,970
Oregon$69,980
Pennsylvania$69,630
Rhode Island$72,310
South Carolina$53,450
South Dakota$44,110
Tennessee$53,540
Texas$56,280
Utah$60,660
Vermont$63,480
Virginia$69,690
Washington$69,390
West Virginia$45,390
Wisconsin$57,980
Wyoming$58,940
Guam$49,940
Puerto Rico$35,050
Virgin Islands$44,200

The top earning state in the field is New York, where the average salary is $82,830.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

New York - $82,830
California - $82,560
Massachusetts - $82,450
District of Columbia - $79,390
Connecticut - $78,070
* Salary information based on the May 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education, OCC Code 25-2021, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

QuestionWhat does a teacher do?

Of course, the main responsibility of a teacher is to teach, but these professionals can also be encouraging and inspiring the students to become the best version of themselves.

There is a wide range of different teachers – preschool, kindergarten, elementary and high school teachers, special education teachers, physical education, music, art teachers, as well as professors, health educators and so on.

Of course, the daily tasks of the specialists mentioned above will differ a bit.

A teacher can work in a school, schoolyard, college, university, in office, in a classroom or even on computers.

Typically, teachers have summers off; however, most of the time, their working day does not end when the school day is over, as teachers might have to grade papers, communicate with parents, and plan lessons.

QuestionHow much do teachers make?

On average, a teacher can make a little more than $35.000 per year in the United States.

In case you decide to follow this career path, you can expect to earn anywhere between $30.000 and $55.500 annually.

The salary would certainly depend on a variety of factors – your education and experience level, the school you work for, the location and so on.

Teachers that work in Arkansas, Iowa, and Hawaii, for example, have the highest average salaries.

An entry-level teacher can earn around $14 per hour, while a top-level specialist with plenty of experience can make $27 and more per hour.

QuestionHow much does it cost to become a teacher?

You would certainly need a bachelor’s degree in education or in a specific field that you are willing to teach, in order to become a teacher.

A year in a university can cost you anywhere between $8.000 and $45.000 (and more); the cost depends on a variety of factors (the books, supplies, and accommodation expenses are not included).

To improve job perspectives, you can go for a master’s degree (over $30.000).

You must be certified to be able to teach in schools; the cost of teacher certification can vary from state to state, so be prepared to pay anywhere between $40 and $200.

QuestionWhat is the demand for teachers?

Between 2018 and 2028, the kindergarten and elementary teacher job market is expected to grow by 3%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The middle school teacher job market will also grow by 3%, while the high school teacher market is expected to grow by 4%.

That is a little slower than the average growth of all occupations in the United States.

The professionals that possess a master’s degree will have better chances of getting the highest-paid jobs.

QuestionHow long does it take to become a teacher?

It will take you 4 years to obtain a bachelor’s degree and 1-2 years to earn a master’s degree.

You would have to complete a student teaching internship that typically lasts for a year.

To become a certified teacher, you would need to have at least a bachelor’s degree, complete an approved teacher education program, pass a background check and knowledge and skills tests.

The initial certificate is valid for 5 years; you would have to complete a certain number of professional development hours every five years to maintain the certification.

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