Become a Spanish Teacher: Education and Career Requirements

Learn how to become a Spanish teacher. Research the job description and the education and licensing requirements and find out how to start a career as a Spanish teacher.

Should I Become a Spanish Teacher?

Spanish teachers need to be capable of planning lessons and educating students utilizing exercises and activities that assist in Spanish language acquisition. Additional traits of a proficient Spanish language teacher include versatility, patience, good communication abilities, a sincere desire to help students learn and the capacity to think critically. Teaching students in grades K-12 might be tiring and frustrating, at times, but offers great rewards when students' accomplishments can be observed.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree required; some states require a master's degree
Degree Field Spanish, unless otherwise fluent
Licensure and/or Certification State-issued certification or license required
Experience Student teaching internship is minimally required
Key Skills English and Spanish literacy and speaking proficiency, strong instructional, organizational and communication skills, basic computer knowledge, and patience
Salary (2014) $56,310 (Median for all secondary school teachers)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job postings by employers (August 2015).

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

A bachelor's degree program in Spanish education provides the most straightforward route to becoming a public school Spanish teacher. Classes in an undergraduate program in Spanish education place emphasis on building high levels of skill in areas like conversation, phonetics and pronunciation. Additional courses may encompass Spanish literary works, Spanish-speaking cultures and customs, and linguistics. In addition to Spanish courses, individuals have to complete courses in education, which prepare them to obtain a state teaching license. A student teaching practicum typically concludes the degree program. One may perform the practicum at an elementary, middle or secondary school, based on the age group he or she prefers to teach.

If an individual is a native Spanish speaker, or is otherwise bilingual and fluent in Spanish, a bachelor's degree specifically in Spanish may not be necessary. However, all K-12 teachers are required to hold at least a bachelor's degree and hold teaching certification. Additionally, competency testing in Spanish language fluency is a requirement for all aspiring Spanish teachers.

Success Tip:

  • Complete a semester or a year abroad. Spending time with native Spanish speakers will help an individual develop his or her language abilities and become immersed in the culture. As a further benefit, one generally is awarded academic credit for time studying abroad.

Step 2: Get a Teaching Certificate

Spanish teachers must possess state licensure if they are going to be employed in a public school, while private schools may not require state licensure for teachers. Licensing criteria differ by state, but commonly include graduation from a college or university with an approved teacher-training curriculum as well as the fulfillment of a student teaching experience, and passage of general knowledge and subject-specific examinations. To acquire a teaching certificate or license, a prospective Spanish teacher must register with his or her state board of education and complete one or more exams.

Step 3: Complete a Master's Degree

Often, a teacher's education doesn't end after obtaining employment. Some school systems require teachers to earn a master's degree shortly after certification. Master's degree programs typically take about two years to finish, and students can receive a master's degree in either Spanish or education, as determined by the program and their personal interests. Some master's programs in teaching are intended for individuals who have earned a bachelor's degree in Spanish but who are not certified to teach. Other programs are aimed at educators certified in different subject areas who desire a Spanish certification. Alternatively, Spanish teachers with bachelor's degrees may enter a master's degree program to further their careers even if their state does not require education beyond a bachelor's degree.

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