Many individuals hear the calling after high school to devote themselves to a career geared toward teaching others. However, a lot of people probably underestimate the exact amount of work involved in becoming a teacher. Teaching requires a good deal of education beyond a simple high school diploma and the level at which an individual wishes to teach will affect the amount of higher education that person will need in order to teach at the level they wish.
Anyone wishing to become a teacher should consider the following five points before embarking on a career in teaching:
- Time: Being a teacher requires a significant time commitment, one that often extends outside the classroom. Teachers must develop lesson plans and grade assignments in addition to their daily tasks of teaching children in the classroom.
- Pay: Teachers are far from the most highly paid individuals in American society. Highly educated elementary and high school teachers make anywhere from $25,000 to $60,000 a year.
- Expectations: Members of the community hold teachers to a certain standard and expect it to be met by those in the career field.
- Emotions: A successful teacher will not only be emotionally committed to the subject matter they are teaching but to the students they are teaching as well. It is not usually a good idea for an individual with little interest in socializing to become a teacher, especially one who might teach younger children in need of more personal guidance.
Once an individual decides to become a teacher they will need to go about acquiring a teaching degree. The type of degree required for teaching depends upon the level at which an individual intends to teach. A teaching degree can be pursued either at a college campus or online university program. An online teaching degree can be a convenient method for those working full time or have personal responsibilities that take up much of their time. The options for a teaching degree both online and on campus include:
- Bachelor of Education
- Master of Education
- Doctor of Education
A Bachelor of Education is the basic undergraduate degree every state will require potential teachers to have in order to begin teaching in schools. A bachelor’s degree is the perfect place to start for the majority of individuals looking to become teachers. An undergraduate degree makes it possible for anyone to become a teacher at elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools in the U.S.
Requirements for the level of education among teachers do vary from state to state, and in New York and Massachusetts for instance, teachers who wish to become professionally licensed will need to have a Master’s degree in education. Having a graduate degree allows teachers to either change careers in the teaching field such as teaching at a community college or moving into school administration jobs such as a principal, superintendent, and school counselor.
Those interested in reaching the highest position in teaching will need a Doctorate in education. A doctorate will allow individuals to hold positions as professors at the university level and also work at the administrative level of universities as deans and counselors. As with a Bachelor’s degree, those who earn a Master’s or Doctorate may not need the generalized Master of Education, but rather would find a graduate degree in the specialized field they teach more useful.
Before deciding on the level of education to attain, individuals should carefully consider their long term career goals in the teaching field. Those who might be interested in remaining at the elementary or middle school level would do fine with a simple bachelor's degree. The type of bachelor's degree can vary for individuals as well. As elementary teachers teach their student's a variety of subjects, a Bachelor of Education degree would be sufficient for their teaching career.
If an individual has a desire to teach at higher levels such as community colleges, junior colleges, and major universities; they would need to acquire an education beyond a bachelor's degree. A Master's degree is sufficient in most states to move from teaching to administration at any level below universities. However, those aiming to teach at universities will almost certainly need to acquire a Doctorate at some point in their career.
Once an individual is done earning their formal education, the process of proving their ability is not finished. Each state in the U.S. has different requirements for teachers to meet in order to get into the classroom as a teacher. In almost every state an individual must pass a certification exam to earn a teaching license. Consider the differences between Florida and California for instance:
• In Florida individuals must submit an application to the state which will then verify if the program an individual graduated from is approved by the state. If so, the individual then need only pass the Florida Teacher Certification Examination to receive a permanent license to teach in the state. If the individual graduate from a program not approved by the state (or did not pass the FTCE) then they are granted a three year temporary license to teach and are given time to complete the necessary requirements.
• In California individuals will go through many of the same steps as Florida, but the state issues either preliminary licenses good only for five years or Professional Clear Credentials that are renewable every five years.
Once individuals are fully educated and certified to teach they will have a wide variety of institutions to choose from ranging from small private schools to large public schools, community colleges to major universities. Where individuals land will depend largely upon where funds are available to pay for new teachers and openings exist. Teaching can at times be a very difficult field to get into because often the career field depends largely upon public budgets.