Become a Teacher - What to Major in to Become a Teacher

Best College Undergraduate Programs to Become a Teacher

You might assume that to become a teacher, you must be an education major, but that isn't necessarily the case. While many future educators do choose that track, there are a number of other paths that can give you an additional perspective or expertise that can help you in a teaching career. Not to mention, many people become educators after working in other industries.

The secret to becoming a teacher is simple — be a great student and earn a teaching certification. Here are some of the majors you might consider pursuing to have an A+ classroom career.

Education

There are several programs of study you can choose from if you know you'd like to teach, especially at the grade school level. Because you'll likely be teaching multiple subjects, the focus will be on education itself, but you can choose specializations like early childhood education or special education. However, if you plan to teach high school or above, you might be better off choosing to focus more on the subject area that you'd like to teach.

STEM majors

There's always a high demand for teachers who have a background in science, technology, engineering and math, since there always tends to be a shortage in these areas. In fact, some alternative teacher certification programs are aimed specifically at those who have a STEM background.

Psychology

Since you'll be working with children (and their parents), learning about child development and how people think and feel can help you be empathetic and handle challenges that come your way. This is especially true if you work with special needs children, students from low-income families, or in a guidance or mentoring role.

Sociology

Like psychology, this major provides students with a deep understanding of family and community dynamics, which can be a great asset when working in a school setting. This experience can be helpful if you are interested in being a guidance counselor or working on the administrative side of education.

History

Majoring in history will help you develop a well-rounded knowledge of ancient and modern civilizations, government, and geography — all of which are the building blocks needed to become a social studies teacher.

English/Liberal Arts

With such a big focus on literacy in today's curriculum, English majors - who understand critical thinking, analyzing texts, research and logic - are uniquely trained to teach students these crucial skills.

General tips

  1. Clarify your state's licensing requirements for teaching. Generally speaking, plan to earn a bachelor's degree, and complete a required teacher preparation program, which may include spending a set amount of hours as a student teacher. From there, you'll have to pass a criminal background check, and then pass at least one certification exam. There are also alternative teaching programs that are designed to fast track career changers into the teaching profession.
  2. Think ahead to grad school. If you plan to make teaching your lifelong career, you'll most likely have to earn a master's degree to qualify for public school positions, or to rise in the ranks. Many teachers work on their advanced degrees by taking online classes.
  3. Embrace your love of learning. In addition to fulfilling your teaching license requirements, use your elective credits to pursue your interests and learn more about subjects you want to teach someday. The best teachers are the ones who are really passionate about their subject areas.

Becoming a teacher is a big educational commitment, so it's important to choose a field of study that you're passionate about. The best part is that once you become certified, you'll begin a rewarding career that allows you to share all of your hard-earned knowledge.