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Lead Teacher Education Requirements and Career Info

Lead teachers require a significant amount of formal education. Learn about the degrees, job duties and certifications to see if this is the right career for you.

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A lead teacher is one that supports newer teachers. They must have experience in teaching and in administrative duties in order to fulfill their role effectively. To first become a teacher, a bachelor's or master's degree in education is necessary, as well as a teaching credential.

Essential Information

Lead teachers hold an undergraduate degree in education and have many years of experience teaching within the public school system. The goal of a lead teacher is to provide guidance and serve as a resource for new and less-established teachers. In addition to holding an undergraduate degree in education, many lead teachers also have an advanced degree in school administration.

Required Education Bachelor's or Master's in Education
Other Requirements State teaching license
Mean Annual Wage (2015) $64,870 for instructional coordinators*
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 7% for instructional coordinators*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Education Requirements for Lead Teachers

The lead teacher occupation is fairly new and, as a consequence, the educational parameters used to define the occupation are not yet set in stone. However, one educational requirement that is needed to become a lead teacher is an undergraduate degree in education. Additionally, because many lead teachers function in an administrative capacity, a master's degree in school administration is sometimes required.

Bachelor of Arts in Education

A bachelor's degree program in education prepares graduates to teach at the secondary, elementary, middle or kindergarten school levels. A bachelor's degree in early childhood education qualifies graduates to teach from the kindergarten level through the third grade in most cases. In contrast, an undergraduate degree program in elementary education prepares graduates to teach up to the sixth grade, and a bachelor's degree in secondary education qualifies graduates to teach up to high school.

Secondary education undergraduate degree programs require that students choose an area of specialization. Some common emphasis areas include world languages, math, English and social studies. In addition to including instruction on teaching theory, also referred to as pedagogy, an undergraduate degree program in education prepares graduates to obtain a teaching license by requiring the completion of a minimum number of teaching practice hours.

Master in Education Administration (M.Ed.)

Teachers who wish to enter into school administration often complete an advanced degree in education or school administration. These master's degree programs in education administration can be completed in two years of full-time study and require the completion of a capstone project. Core courses cover topics such as K-12 curriculum design, school law, school improvement, technology and planning, curriculum theory and issues of diversity.

A capstone project could require students to develop a teacher work sample that covers areas such as instructional design, student learning analysis, assessment planning and contextual factors in learning. Students can begin work on the capstone project soon after completing any required research and evaluation courses and receiving permission from an adviser.

Career Information

A lead teacher functions as a resource for other teachers and provides oversight over curriculum development and ensures a high standard of education is upheld. Lead teachers have many years of teaching experience and have moved into an administrative position. Specific lead teacher responsibilities may vary according to the school; however, they should provide support in areas such as educational planning and preparation, student assessment and evaluation, teacher and school district collaboration and instructional management.

Specific job outlook and salary data for the lead teacher profession is not available. However, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), reports a 6% job growth in kindergarten and elementary school teachers for the period 2014 to 2024 with a mean annual wage of $57,730 as of May 2015; for high school teachers, only a 6% increase in job growth from 2014 to 2024 with a mean annual wage of $60,440 as of 2015. The BLS also states the mean annual wage for instructional coordinators as $64,870 with a 7% growth from 2014 to 2024. It is important to note that a lead teacher's salary may differ depending on subject expertise, credentials, and location.

The role of lead teacher is fairly new. Responsibilities may entail supporting newer teachers, upholding the school curriculum, collaborating between the district and the school, and helping in school planning and preparation. A master's degree in education or school administration is a smart move for those interested in becoming lead teachers.

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