Teachers play an important role in fostering the intellectual and social development of children during their formative years. Whether in elementary or high schools or in private or public schools, teachers provide the tools and the environment for students to develop into responsible adults.
Teachers act as facilitators or coaches to help students learn and apply concepts in subjects such as science, mathematics, and English. Teachers observe and evaluate a student's performance and potential and are increasingly asked to use new assessment methods.
Teacher Education Requirements
There are a number of routes to becoming a teacher. The basic requirements are a bachelor’s degree, completion of an approved teacher training program, and practice teaching. Bachelor’s programs in education can provide both teacher training and subject matter expertise. If you already have a bachelor’s degree in the field you wish to teach, you can complete a teaching certification in academic subjects such as English or mathematics, vocational subjects such as healthcare or the building trades, or special subjects such as music or art.
Alternatively, you can obtain teacher training through a master in education program. Ph. D. programs in education generally prepare you for administrative or research positions.
Every state requires that public school teachers be licensed. Some require certification for private school teachers as well. Some states may also require competency testing in basic skills and/or subject matter, technology training, a master’s degree in education.
Job Opportunities for Teachers
Job prospects are best for teachers in high-demand fields, such as mathematics, science, and bilingual education, and in less desirable urban or rural school districts. Teachers who are also geographically mobile and who obtain licensure in more than one subject will also have an advantage in finding a job.
Teachers can boost their earnings in a number of ways, as well. In some schools, teachers receive extra pay for coaching sports and working with students in extracurricular activities. Getting a master's degree or national certification often results in a raise in pay, as does acting as a mentor. Some teachers earn extra income during the summer by teaching summer school or performing other jobs in the school system. Although private school teachers generally earn less than public school teachers, they may be given other benefits, such as free or subsidized housing.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-2011 Edition