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Education and Training: Bachelors Degree plus state certification and possibly license.
Average Salary: $52,000
Job Outlook: Very good

Job Description

Teachers teach students a wide variety of skills, with the most common being reading, writing and math. They use a wide range of tools and techniques to give information to students, including computers, games and videos.

It is a teacher’s job to impart information to students in an easy to understand way, and an important part of the job is to plan lessons so this can be achieved. In addition to planning lessons teachers must also assign class projects and homework, and must be able to identify those students who are underachieving so that they can be helped.

Teachers must also grade papers and projects, and create tests and write student reports. They are required to meet with parents to discuss their children’s education and may also help out with various after-school activities. They may regularly attend workshops and conferences to learn new methods of teaching.
Anyone choosing to become a kindergarten or elementary school teacher may be required to teach several subjects to one class, and it’s not unusual to find two or more teachers working as a team. Some teachers choose to specialize in one particular subject. The majority of middle school and high school teachers will specialize in just one subject.

Although most teachers work with children, there are positions available working in further education establishments and other adult oriented environments.

Education and Training Requirements

It’s necessary to have a college degree in order to become a teacher, unless you are teaching a particular job skill that doesn’t require this qualification such as car mechanics. Potential teachers must take classes in education and have to practice teaching under the eye of an experienced teacher in order to obtain a teaching certificate and a license to teach.

Some teachers are licensed to teach particular age groups while others are licensed to teach a specialist subject, but all have to pass tests in reading and writing, and continuing education is an important part of being a teacher.

Some states may require a Masters degree and some may require their teachers to be computer literate. Additionally, teachers need to be good leaders and extremely good communicators. They have to be inspirational and trustworthy, extremely patient, while organized and creative.

Getting the Job

All states require that teachers pass their licensing examination, and some require a teaching certificate in addition to the license. Requirements vary from state to state, so anyone wishing to get a job needs to check the licensing requirements in that particular state.

Anyone considering becoming a teacher might wish to first volunteer at a local school and to try shadowing a teacher for a few days, or to mentor a small group of students. This should give them a real feel for the job and what is involved, and may help them decide on a specific specialization.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

Job prospects for teachers over the next decade or so are extremely good, although they depend on location and the subject taught. There is a real shortage of teachers in some cities, and especially in certain subjects.Subjects in demand include math and science as well as foreign languages. There is also a demand for teachers who can teach English as a second language.

There should be plenty of opportunity for career advancement and development through attendance of courses and promotions, either internally or by moving to another school.

Working Conditions and Environment

Working conditions and environment are good, as in general schools are reasonably well maintained and heated. However this job can frequently be stressful, especially if the teacher has to deal with an unruly class or meet with parents who are unhappy with their teaching methods.

Salary and Benefits

Teachers are not particularly highly paid, and the average high school teacher makes around $55,000 a year, while a teacher at the beginning of their career may earn as little as $35,000. The most highly paid are university lecturers and administrators who can earn up to $115,000. Special education teachers tend to earn slightly more, and many teachers choose to take on additional work during the summer vacations.

Long vacations are of course a particular perk of teachers, and most will enjoy reasonable pensions, paid sick leave and health insurance benefits.

Where to Go for More Information

American Federation of Teachers
555 New Jersey Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 879-4400

Education America Network
12400 State Highway 71 W, Ste. 350-419
Austin, Texas 78738

U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Ave., SW
Washington, D.C. 20202
(800) 872 5327

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesEducation & Training