If there’s one profession that’s not going to go away or be replaced by robots, it’s teaching. School districts big and small, academies public and private, are always looking for teachers to help educate the next generation of students. Teachers play a vital role in the lives of children and teenagers. So how do you become a teacher? Here’s the lowdown on what it takes.
How to Get Hired as a Teacher
Degrees and certificates needed
To gain employment as a teacher, at least a bachelor’s degree is required. Some teachers choose to major in the subject area they plan to teach, such as English, history, or biology, but it is generally not a requirement to do so. In many states, including California, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania, a master’s degree is also required in order to obtain a teaching certificate. For any state you teach in, a certificate or license specific to that state is required. The certificate is typically given after prospective teachers pass a state-specific teaching exam. Some states also require that teachers have some supervised experienced teaching, or that they have completed a teacher preparation program.
Skills for teachers
Teachers should be comfortable with speaking in front of people, and should have strong communication skills. Organization is also an important skill for teachers, as creating lesson plans, grading and handing back assignments, and keeping students on track for state exams all require attention to detail and the ability to stay organized. It is also important for teachers to have the ability to stay calm in chaotic situations and to mediate between young students.
Teacher Hiring Process
Postings for teaching jobs can be found on job search sites like Glassdoor and on education-focused websites like teacher.org. Some schools still post job listings in the classified section of their local newspaper, so it’s worth scouring the newspaper or online classifieds, too.
Once you’ve found a job that suits you, the application process for teaching jobs is usually relatively straightforward. A resume and cover letter will be required, generally. Some jobs also may request a portfolio of other materials showing your qualifications as a teacher, including sample lesson plans, written recommendations and/or a list of references, and materials from past students. It’s a good idea to compile a portfolio like this before you’re asked for it, so you can easily send it off when you’re networking or applying to multiple jobs at once. If your application goes well, you’ll most likely be invited for an in-person interview, and in some cases, to teach a sample lesson.
Since many teaching jobs have relatively low turnover, you may not immediately find a teaching job that suits you in the district or geographic area you’re looking in. One way to overcome this is by widening the geographic area of your search, giving you more opportunities to become employed and gain experience, which will make you a more attractive candidate as you try to move into other districts. Another strategy is to work in substitute teaching. Although substitute teaching generally pays less, it can give you a valuable opportunity to network within a district and to gain experience as a teacher which you can leverage into future applications.
How Much Does a Teacher Make?
As with most professions, salaries for teachers can vary widely based on a teacher's years of experience, the school district and resources. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for kindergarten and elementary school teachers in 2017 was $56,900, while the median pay for middle school teachers was $57,720, and the median pay for high school teachers was $59,170.
As of 2019 according to Glassdoor salaries data, the national average salary for a Teacher is $45,082 in United States. Salary estimates are based on 26,149 salaries submitted anonymously to Glassdoor by Teacher employees. A teacher with over 15 years of experience can earn $56,157 per year, while an entry-level teacher can make $43,203 per year.
Teacher Job Market
Employment for teachers is expected to grow by 7% for kindergarten and elementary school teachers, and by 8% for middle school and high school teachers until 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There are currently over 69,000 openings for teachers across the United States on Glassdoor.
Teacher Job Interview Tips
Interviewing as a teacher, your first-round interview will feature standard questions covering both your experience and knowledge of teaching, and general questions about your skills, strengths, and motivations for entering the field of teaching. To find typical interview questions for teachers and their answers, you can browse interview questions for teachers on Glassdoor. Often, as a teacher, you will be interviewed by different personnel within a school, including fellow teachers, school administrators, the school principal, and in some cases, parents.
Often, candidates for teacher positions may also be asked to teach a class to a group of students or to interviewers. Giving mock lessons to friends, family, or former students can be a good way to prepare for interviews like this.
Here are a few tips for nailing a teacher job interview:
- Research the school – get familiar with the school’s history, the curriculum, and any other information you can find either on the school district website, news articles, or through word of mouth. If you know anyone who teaches at the school who can give you insider information about academics, school policies, and extra-curricular activities, even better.
- Be prepared for behavioral questions — behavior interview questions test how you’ve dealt with situations in your past working experience. An example of a behavioral interview question in a teaching interview might be “how did you deal with a student who was habitually acting out in class?”
- Know your strengths and weaknesses — being a teacher requires some very specific skills, such as organization, communication, patience, mentoring, and knowledge of the subject material you’re applying to teach. Being able to explain why you shine in these aspects — and why you’re able to pick up the slack in areas you’re not as well-versed in — is critical to showing the interviewer why you’re capable for the job.
Related Careers in Education:
There are many careers open in the education field besides teaching. Here are a few examples of positions open in the wide field of education.
Median Pay: $55,410
Degrees Required: Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree
Median Pay: $58,520
Degrees Required: Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree
Median Pay: $26,260
Degrees Required: Associate’s degree