Students in a teacher education program can concentrate on a specific level of education, such as early childhood or secondary education. Some may choose to specialize in multiple levels for more employment opportunities. Continue reading below to see if a teaching career will suit you.
Degree programs in teacher education for specific levels can provide training to teach particular grade levels. Colleges and universities may prepare individuals to work in the levels of early childhood education, elementary education, secondary education and postsecondary education. Students can concentrate in more than one level and qualify to teach multiple levels.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the work of a teacher can be both rewarding and challenging (www.bls.gov). Those with a strong ability to communicate with students of various ages and manage their classrooms effectively may excel in this career. Educators need to motivate, inspire and instill confidence in their students, which sometimes must be done in poor working conditions. There may be instances of violent and disrespectful students, especially within inner cities and rural school districts. Private school teachers benefit from smaller class sizes and usually have the opportunity to work with students who are willing and eager to learn, whereas public school teachers may be forced to work with larger classes with few modern amenities at under-funded institutions.
The BLS suggests that employment prospects for teachers between 2008-2018 would be most favorable in such subjects as science and mathematics. Job opportunities would vary depending on location, grade level and subject of expertise. With the exception of special education and substitute teachers, teachers in elementary schools earned a mean annual wage of $54,330 in May 2010, per the BLS. During this time, middle school teachers were paid an average salary of $54,880, while high school teachers made a mean annual wage of $55,990 (www.bls.gov).
Most states require a minimum of a bachelor's degree in teaching, while others may require more advanced degrees. The BLS reports that many states have alternative licensing programs for individuals planning to become teachers without a degree in education. Aspiring teachers can consider teacher education programs accredited by the Teacher Education Accreditation Council and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. Professional development schools are also available, providing one year of hands-on, supervised experience teaching to graduates with a bachelor's degree.
Various degree programs exist for individuals interested in pursuing teaching at a specific level. A Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education prepares graduates to teach preschool, kindergarten and grades 1-3. A Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education covers education from kindergarten through eighth grade. Due to the fact that many secondary school teachers major in their subject of expertise, such as English or history, a minor in secondary school teaching within a bachelor's degree program in education can help students meet the prerequisites for licensure.
For those seeking more advanced degrees, a Master of Education degree program allows students to focus on specific areas of education or in specific levels. A Doctor of Education degree program concentrates more on the field of research, but it will qualify graduates to work in a postsecondary institution.
Unlike private school educators, all teachers in the public school system must be licensed to teach in the U.S, reports the BLS. The State Board of Education administers teacher licensure in most cases, and requirements vary from state-to-state. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards grants voluntary advanced teaching credentials in different areas, which cover various subjects and grade levels and last for ten years (www.nbpts.org). These credentials may help job prospects, but they don't replace a state license.