A noble and rewarding career, becoming a teacher is an option many choose. If you want to know how to become a teacher, you just need the right steps. Of course, before you go down this career path or any other, it’s wise to understand the job.
There aren’t that many careers allowing you to shape young minds. However, teaching offers the opportunity to work with different age groups. So you can help form the next generation as a teacher.
If you’re considering a career path as a teacher, it’s a good idea to understand the job duties. What you see as a student isn’t all a teacher does. Let’s look at the job duties of a teacher and how you can become a teacher.
Job Duties of a Teacher
Delivering classroom instruction for students is the main job duty of any teacher. However, before information can be delivered to students, plenty of things happen behind the scenes. As a result, teachers have many job duties outside of lecturing and actual teaching. Some of the common job duties include:
- Create lesson plans
- Deliver lessons in a classroom setting
- Grade work from students and provide feedback
- Meet with parents to discuss the progress of students
- Manage the supplies for the classroom
- Create rules for the classroom
- Enforce the rules for the classroom
- Prepare students for standardized tests
- Work with teachers in the school, along with administration and staff
- Learn new teaching methods and implement them for better effectiveness
Depending on the age you choose to teach, these duties and many more will likely be a part of your job. You may also decide to take on other duties at school, such as coaching a sport or participating in committees.
How To Become a Teacher in 5 Steps
Step #1 – Finish High School
If you want to become a teacher, you need to finish high school. Doing well in high school and scoring high on the ACT or SAT can help you get into a better teaching program. In addition, using the right test prep materials for the SAT or ACT can make a big difference.
During high school, it’s a good idea to shadow a teacher and get to know your teachers very well. This can give you some insight into your career and help you make the right decision. You can even volunteer to work with different age groups to get a feel for what you prefer.
Step #2 – Get Your Bachelor’s Degree
You will need a bachelor’s degree to become a teacher. Without a degree, you cannot teach at any level in a school. The major you choose will help to determine the type of teaching position you will qualify for.
Most teachers will choose their major based on the age group or type of teaching they want to do. Some of the common majors include:
- Special Education – If you want to work with students with special needs, this is the degree for you. It will give you the necessary training to work with students struggling with learning disabilities, developmental disabilities, and other disabilities.
- Early Childhood Education – A very popular choice, if you major in early childhood education, you will be qualified to teach up to eight years of age. In addition, this type of degree will provide theories in childhood development and other training necessary for this age group.
- Physical Education – If you want to teach PE courses, this is the right major for you. Many aspiring athletics coaches will become PE teachers so they can coach at the high school level. In addition, a degree in physical education will allow you to teach at any K-12 level.
- Secondary Education – Those who prefer to teach at the middle school or high school level will major in secondary education.
If you already hold a bachelor’s degree in another subject, you may be able to go through alternative licensing to become a teacher. In addition, some states have programs to make it faster and easier for those with a college degree to become teachers.
Step #3 – Get Classroom Experience
As a part of your degree program, you will need to acquire classroom hours. This is done through an internship at a school. Teachers will need to get enough hours to meet the certification requirements.
Each state is a bit different. Make sure you understand what’s expected in your state to gain teacher certification.
Step #4 – Get your Teaching License
All teachers will need to be licensed in their state. You will likely apply through the Department of Education in your state. Passing the necessary exams will also be a part of the process.
Certification and licensing will be provided for different grade levels. This includes Preschool through third grade, First grade through Sixth grade, and Seventh grade through Twelfth grade.
Step #5 – Get Your Master’s Degree
A master’s degree isn’t required to become a teacher. However, teachers make a higher salary and can teach at a higher level with a master’s degree.
Along with a master’s degree, you will need to complete continuing education hours to keep your license. Courses on different teaching methods are commonly used to meet this requirement.
Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Teacher
How much can I make as a teacher?
The average salary of a teacher is about $24K per year. However, this number will likely not be your salary, as it includes many teaching positions that pay a very low hourly wage for very young children. According to BLS.gov, the average salary for a high school teacher is about $63K per year.
Your salary will be determined by where you teach, your employer, the age group you teach, and your experience. Some teaching positions can pay much more than the average. For example, the average salary for the Baltimore County Public Schools is $91K, and the average for the Los Angeles Unified School District is more than $80K per year.
If you earn a special education certificate, it can help you make a larger salary. This is one of the best certifications to get to earn a higher salary as a teacher.
Teachers can also add to their salary by taking on additional responsibilities. This may include leading a student club or coaching.
The highest-paid teachers are those teaching at the high school level. The lowest-paid tend to be those at the preschool level. This may not always be the case, but commonly, the older the students, you will make more money.
Earning a master’s degree can also help you boost your teaching salary. Some schools may even pay a portion of the fee to help you get your master’s degree.
Teachers often offer private tutoring, especially during the summer, to boost their income.
What type of benefits do teachers get?
As a teacher, you will enjoy many employee benefits. Of course, the most common is the time off during the summer. Most teachers will receive about two months off during the summer. You will also gain benefits, such as health insurance, tuition reimbursement, childcare, and more.
Can I live off my teaching salary?
There has been a lot of talk over the years about teachers not getting paid enough. However, most teachers earn enough money to live comfortably off their salary. It will depend on where you live and how you decide to live, however.
What type of hours do teachers work?
It’s rather common for teachers to work a 40-hour workweek. However, while their contract might state 40 hours and a five-day workweek, many teachers work more. For example, they might take on a coaching position or another extracurricular position. Usually, these positions pay a little bit more, too.
Teachers often work between 7 and 9 hours a day. As a result, they may need extra time for paper grading, planning lessons, and even for tutoring.
Can I get my teaching degree online?
Yes. You can earn an undergraduate or graduate degree in teaching online. However, you will still need to get the classroom hours during your undergraduate program. Most teachers will attend at least some in-person classes during their undergraduate degree program.
It’s more common for a graduate-level program to be offered online. So, for example, teachers pursuing a Master’s degree can complete it online and on their own schedule while they work.
Will I get paid during the summer as a teacher?
Teachers will be paid year-round, in most cases. This is a salary position. Teachers may get the option to choose to be paid monthly for the entire year or just for ten months.
It’s common for teachers to work another job or to teach summer school during the summer. However, some teachers take off the entire summer and enjoy their vacation away from their job.
What test will I need to take to become a teacher?
Once you have the right degree, you will need to take the three Praxis tests to become a teacher. These include:
- The Praxis Subject Assessments
- The Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educator
- The Praxis Content Knowledge for Teaching Assessments
There are also the Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching, which may be necessary for some states. Make sure you are well prepared for these tests, and you pass them the first time.
If you want to become a teacher, you can use the steps above to enter this career. There are many good reasons to become a teacher. Use the steps above, and you can enjoy a rewarding career as you help shape young minds.