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  • College students who major in education study everything from principles of teaching to school management.
  • When it comes to finding work as a teacher, states with the highest populations tend to also have the highest demand.
  • Teachers who specialize in math, science, teaching English as a second language, and students with disabilities are often in the most demand.

Joseph Addison, an 18th-century essayist, poet, playwright, and politician once said, "What sculpture is to a block of marble, education is to a human soul." That is, education is at the core of forming who we are. And those who bring education into our lives—our teachers—are therefore responsible for one of the defining experiences of our lives. It's a big responsibility. But if teaching is something that excites you, it can also be one of the most rewarding professions out there.

As an undergraduate education major you will study the management, methods, and principles of teaching students from elementary to secondary school. You may also explore the history and theory of education, the policies, social structures, and institutions that impact student outcomes and the unique needs of diverse student groups like English language learners or those who live in under-resourced communities. Depending on your program, you can often specialize in a certain area like English, math, early childhood, or students with disabilities.

Successful teachers not only find ways to share knowledge. They can also inspire and motivate their students. They are great communicators, well organized, and sticklers for detail. They also happen to have healthy doses of patience.

What are the requirements for becoming a teacher? 

During your final semester at college, you may have the opportunity to student teach in a classroom. This experience is often a required component of teacher preparation programs.

In most states, you'll also need to take The Praxis®, created by the Educational Test Service® (ETS), which measures the knowledge and skills of future teacher candidates and is used for the state licensing and certification processes. There are several types of Praxis exams, so you'll need to check with the state you would like to teach in to see which test(s) you'll need to take as well as the passing score requirements.

No matter where you end up teaching, you will need a teaching license and/or certificate. According to Teacher Certification Degrees, all states require a bachelor's degree (at a minimum), the completion of a traditional or alternative teacher preparation program, and a background check. Many states also require student teaching experience. Teacher candidates all need to take a certification exam, although exactly what kind and how many varies by state. Visit your state's department of education to see what the requirements include.

What are the different types of teaching jobs? 

As an education major, you have options when it comes to deciding what type of teacher you want to be. Possible job titles include kindergarten and elementary school teacher, middle school teacher, high school teacher, English/science/math teacher, preschool teacher, and special education teacher.

Best places to live and work as a teacher

As a teacher, you likely can find job opportunities all over the country. However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2021 some of the most populated states also have the highest levels of employment for secondary school teachers. Those include:

  • Texas
  • California
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania

For elementary school teachers, the states with the highest levels of employment as of May 2021 includes:

  • California
  • Texas
  • New York
  • Florida
  • Illinois

As of May 2021, the highest paying states for secondary school teachers include California, New York, Massachusetts, Washington, and Connecticut. Elementary school teachers are paid the most in New York, California, Massachusetts, Washington, and Connecticut.

How much do teachers make?

According to the BLS, as of May 2021, the median annual wage for high school teachers was approximately $62,000. But salaries varied from a low of less than about $46,000 for the bottom 10% to more than around $100,000 for the top 10%.

Elementary school teachers, excluding special education, earned similar amounts. In May 2021, their median annual wage was about $61,000 with the bottom 10% of earners taking home less than about $44,000, and the top 10% bringing in more than approximately $99,000.

In both cases, public school teachers earned slightly more than private school teachers as of May 2021.

Are teachers in demand?

At 5%, job growth for high school teachers from 2021 to 2031 is expected to be about the same as the average for all occupations as of May 2021. For elementary school teachers during that same time period, growth is expected to be about the same, at 4% as of May 2021. In both cases, while enrollment should increase, the number of jobs will largely be dictated by state and local government budgets.

At the high school level, teachers who specialize in math, science, English as a second language, and special education should have the best job prospects as these are often hard-to-fill subject areas for many schools.

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Praxis® and Educational Test Service® are trademarks registered by the Educational Test Service, which is not affiliated with, and does not endorse, this site.

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