A career in education is an attractive option for numerous reasons, with career stability being the best of them. There are many variables in education requirements due to state, grade level at which you will teach, and whether you choose to work in a public or private school. Each state has its own requirements for teaching, but the following guidelines are a good place to start to learn more about the steps to move toward a career as a teacher. These tips are broadly based on the regulations that are the same for every state or uniform across the country. Be sure to research the requirements for your specific state and municipality.
All states require a Bachelor’s degree at a minimum to become a teacher. If you are looking to teach a single subject in K-12, this education level may be sufficient. However, if you want to teach general education in kindergarten or elementary school, you will need an Elementary Education degree. High school teachers are required to major in a content area such as math or science. This is becoming the norm for elementary teachers as well. Earning a college degree is just the first step in becoming a full-fledged teacher.
Student teaching is a requirement to become certified in most states. Each state requires a certain number of hours that you will need to complete prior to being able to take your teacher certification exam. There are two ways to complete your student teaching, the most economical is to do so while you are seeking your degree. You can complete student teaching through an internship program or on your own, outside of your academic hours. This is an important step in learning more about the daily routine of teaching and what to expect. Your teaching style will also start to emerge during this period. Student teaching can also be performed after graduation but will need to be completed before you will be able to receive any licenses or certifications. Keep in mind that in a majority of cases, student teaching is a full-time, unpaid job.
Public schools all require licenses and certifications issued by the state in which you are to teach. Some parochial and private schools do not require anything beyond your degree, but this will differ by institution. Once you have completed your student teaching module you can sit for these exams. These tests are typically broken down by grade range such as first through third grade. Many states also require an overall teaching competency exam and a test specific to the subject matter that you will be teaching. Some states do offer alternative programs for holders of a degree that lack the necessary education credits. These typically involve supervised teaching for a predetermined period and at the successful completion of the program, you will be awarded full certification.
Once you have received the necessary education and certifications to begin your teaching career, your education does not need to stop there. In addition to continuing education requirements, many school districts will require a Master’s Degree to move up through the ranks and gain stronger earning potential. Whatever your final education level, teaching is a noble profession and one that is worth pursuing.