How to Become a High School Math Teacher

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

Should I Become a High School Math Teacher?

Individuals who would like to become math teachers need to have the ability to clarify material in a manner that students of every aptitude level can grasp. Future math teachers also need solid communication skills and listening abilities. Teachers plan lessons, deliver instruction, evaluate student work and assess student progress. Teaching high school math may be quite challenging, since this required subject is difficult for some. Students who feel stressed may become unruly, and good teachers must find ways to circumvent those behaviors. High school teachers typically get the summer months off, unless they teach summer school.

The minimum level of education needed to become a high school math teacher is a bachelor's degree with concentrations in education and mathematics. Although requirements vary by state, student teaching and a passing score on a battery of examinations are necessary for gaining teacher certification to teach in public schools. Some states may require educators to earn a master's degree following certification.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree (required), master's degree (may be required by some states)
Degree Field Mathematics and education concentrations
Licensure and/or Certification State-specific teacher licensing and certification
Experience Student teaching internship required
Key Skills Patience, instructional skills, communication skills
Salary (2014) $56,310 is the median annual salary for high school teachers.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

The first step in becoming a high school math teacher is completing an undergraduate degree, normally in the subject area. Individuals can earn a degree in mathematics coupled with a teacher training program or a degree in education with a mathematics concentration. These programs can educate students on pedagogical practices, instructional methods and adolescent development, in addition to ways to utilize them in the high school classroom. Some programs offer dual majors in education and math. According to the BLS, graduation from an accredited program is not required but can assist with licensure. The two primary accrediting bodies are the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and Teacher Education Accreditation Council.

Step 2: Get a Teaching Certificate

Individuals who plan to become a high school math teacher must obtain certification in the state where they will be teaching. Aside from a bachelor's degree and student teaching field experience, requirements for certification vary by state. To become a high school math teacher, individuals must generally pass mathematics subject area and basic skills exams. Like certification requirements, on-going education and state-to-state transfer requirements may differ by state. Individuals can contact their state's education board for comprehensive requirements for secondary math teachers. After completing a bachelor's degree program, student teaching and any professional exams required by their state, graduate are prepared to pursue teacher certification.

Step 3: Complete a Master's Degree

Prospective high school math teachers can think about earning a master's degree in education. Many master's programs are designed for individuals who have completed a bachelor's degree in math, but lack certification, or for working math teachers who want additional education. The Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) is a common option for individuals with an undergraduate degree who would like to become certified. According to the BLS, certain states also require educators to earn a master's degree after they start teaching. The curriculum in a master's degree program may include advanced coursework in instructional approaches and strategies.

Success Tip:

  • Consider earning a national certification. National certification gives math teachers the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and proficiency. As the BLS notes, educators who have certifications could earn extra benefits, along with higher salaries. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) offers National Board Certification in mathematics instruction and young adult mathematics instruction. According to NBPTS, requirements consist of three years of teaching experience and a valid teaching license.

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