Teachers are a special group of people who don’t think of their profession as a career so much as a labor of love. With the right degree in hand, a teacher can choose to move up into administrative positions, where they can play a significant role in developing curriculum and school system planning.

If you’re interested in becoming a teacher, this article will outline possible career and degree paths, as well as job outlook, expected salaries and more.

What Does it Mean to be a Teacher?

Teaching is a vocation. It is a calling for those people who want to make a positive impact on the life of a child. The students that come into your life are shaped not only by the lessons you teach, but by the kindness and patience you share. That, not the financial compensation, is the greatest reward of a career in teaching.

Beyond this reward is the chance to work in a dynamic environment. No two days are the same in teaching. And, since no two students learn the same, teachers are also required to use their creativity and imagination to help each and every student internalize the lesson.

Job security is another reason to think about a career in teaching. There will never be a time when teachers become obsolete. This is a big plus at a time when layoffs becoming increasingly common. And, when you consider teachers enjoy summers off, as well as another few weeks during the school year, you realize the profession is rewarding in many different ways.

Career Description and Outlook

Teachers are responsible for developing classroom curricula and helping students achieve academic success. Having said this, there can be variation in work functions depending on specialty and classroom placement.

Teachers may choose to work in elementary, middle school, high school, early education, special education and post-secondary education. Teachers may also decide to work with students via online education courses.

Elementary School

Elementary school teachers help their students learn basic skills such as writing, math and reading. Many will use art and interactive activities to help students learn. But beyond this, elementary school teachers often help students with personal skills as well, such as how to communicate and work with others, and how to develop good study habits.

Middle School or Junior High

Middle school teachers work with kids from the sixth through eighth grades, a very interesting time in a child’s life! In this arena, most teachers will have a specific expertise they focus on such as math, history, music or biology. Because students at this age are becoming a bit more advanced, teachers must find creative ways to push their students to try even harder.

High School

In almost all cases, high school teachers always have a specific area of study. Beyond expanding students’ knowledge, many high school teachers also help their students prepare for college. Some high school teachers become mentors, helping students cope with course load, prepare for the SATs and develop college admission essays.

Benefits of a Career in Teaching

Hands down, teaching has got to be one of the most rewarding careers offering numerous benefits! To start, you’ll have great satisfaction in knowing that you are helping to shape the lives of children in a big, big way. You also spend less time on the job than most professionals. For instance, students are typically in school for just six hours a day, and never on weekends. So you won’t be asked to stay late or come in on a Saturday. On top of this, you also get holidays, winter vacation and summer vacations as well! That’s a LOT of time off and that can be beneficial particularly if you have a young family of your own. And lastly, there is room for growth and advancement. You may start out teaching 3rd grade math and one day become superintendent of your school district!

Schedules, Salary and Growth

Elementary, middle school and high school teachers work during regular school hours from 7am to 3pm or 8am to 4pm, having two to three months off in the summer, and Winter and Spring breaks.  This schedule provides a lot of free time to spend with family or take part in other hobbies and activities.

According to the bureau of labor statistics, primary and elementary school teachers earned a median annual wage of $58,230 in May 2018. Employment of elementary school teachers is expected to grow 3% from 2018 to 2028 and rising student enrollment can be expected during that time as well.

According to the bureau of labor statistics, high school teachers earned a median annual wage of $60,320 in May 2018. Employment of high school teachers is projected to grow 4% from 2018 to 2028, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Read more about what a career in teaching can offer you.

The Degree Path to Becoming a Teacher

Now that you know how rewarding a career in education can be, let’s look at what your path to becoming a teacher may look like.

Step 1. Earn Your Bachelor’s Degree

All states require K-12 public school teachers to have obtained a bachelor’s degree at minimum.

Is there a specific degree I should choose?

In many cases around the country, it’s just important to get the actual bachelor’s degree regardless of your major.   For example, to get there more quickly and affordably, and with your current work schedule, you could choose an online degree (see our article on why online degrees can save you both money and time) in almost any field like criminal justice, business, human services, etc. and then get your teaching credential thereafter to then be eligible to apply for teaching jobs.

In some cases, Elementary school teachers must earn a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, while some school systems will require K-6 teachers to major in a specific area such as math or science. High school teachers are usually required to major in one particular subject area. You may want to check the requirements for your specific school district.

Regardless of which major you choose, be sure to see how OnlineDegree.com could help you as well.  You can take free courses toward your degree and utilize tuition discounts we’ve organized at universities across the country…we provide all of this for free as part of our mission to make college a reality for everyone.

Step 2. Get Your Teaching Credential/Certification/License

If you plan on working within the public-school system you will need to become licensed or certified. Regulations vary from state to state, but generally, certification will follow grade level, with specific licensures for K-3rd grade, 1st through 6th, and 7th through 12th.

Most states also require individuals to pass a general teaching certification test as well as any tests in the specific subject individuals may be focusing on.

Step 3. (optional) Get Some Student Teaching Under Your Belt

Earning your bachelor’s degree is a great first step, but you’ll probably want to gain some classroom experience. Depending on your state, you may be required to earn a certain number of supervised classroom hours to sit for licensure.

Step 4. (optional) Continue with Higher Education

While a new teacher can begin employment with a bachelor’s degree, many public schools encourage their teachers to earn a master’s degree as well. This degree will not only help a teacher earn higher pay but also set the path for them to advance into administrative positions should they choose to down the road.

A doctoral degree will be necessary to advance into the highest administration levels of education, including superintendent, and also to instruct college students in a specific area of expertise.

Getting Started on Your Dream Career

With the first step being a bachelor’s degree, here are a few additional resources to check out to get started on your path to becoming a teacher:

  • Choosing Online Education Can Help– As a working adult, you may not have a lot of extra hours to attend traditional classes. You may also not have a significant budget to help you further your education. Online degrees vs the traditional campus offer flexible scheduling for adult students who have other life commitments. So, even if you’re a parent that also works full-time, an online program can work around your schedule.
  • Additional Salary and Other Data on Teaching:
  • How OnlineDegree.com can help you reach your goals – To make college a reality for everyone, we provide free courses that could apply toward your degree, tuition discounts at universities across the country, and much needed guidance.  All free.

If you’re ready to get started toward becoming a teacher, enroll with us today!