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Math Teacher Training Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a math teacher. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

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Essential Information

Math teachers work with students at the middle school, secondary, and postsecondary school levels teaching courses like algebra, trigonometry and calculus. Licensure, which is required by public schools and many private schools, can be obtained after earning a bachelor's degree in math and education (as a double major) or specifically pursuing a math teacher education program.

Required Education Bachelor's degree and practical experience required to teach in public schools
Graduate degree required for postsecondary teaching
Licensure & Certification Licensure required to teach in public schools and frequently other venues
Projected Job Growth* Varies significantly between venues
Median Salary (2012-2013)* Middle school teachers (all types): $53,940
High school teachers (all types): $55,050
Postsecondary math teachers: $65,930

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Training Requirements for a Teaching License

All 50 states and the District of Columbia offer two routes to teaching licensure. The traditional route involves completing a bachelor's degree in education through an accredited teaching program. The second route is designed for college graduates without a teacher education degree who want to teach the subject they studied as undergraduates.

Traditional Licensure Training Requirements

While each state sets its own teacher certification requirements, there are some commonalities. Aspiring teachers in any state need both education and practical experience in leading a classroom.

Bachelor's Degree in Math and Education

All licensed teachers must possess a bachelor's degree. Holding a degree from a program accredited by the Teacher Education Accreditation Council or National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education makes the licensure process easier for applicants, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). To obtain a license to teach a secondary subject area like mathematics, applicants must have earned a prescribed set of subject credits and education credits. Some schools offer math teacher education degrees, which combine math classes and teaching coursework. Students in schools without this degree option must pursue a double major in a mathematical subject and in education.

Student Teaching

Successfully completing a student teaching program is a requirement both for graduation from a teacher education program and for earning state teaching licensure. Generally, universities will assign education students in their fourth year of study to a classroom in a nearby school. Would-be math teachers can be placed in a mathematics classroom in a high school or middle school. At the beginning of the program, the professional teacher assists the student teacher in planning lessons and instructing students. Toward the end of their practica, student teachers must lead their classes independently.

Alternative Licensure Training Requirements

Graduates without degrees in education may take advantage of the alternative licensing programs that can allow them to teach for public school districts. Usually, they teach the subject areas in which they hold degrees. Alternative licensing programs may vary significantly from one state to another. Some states will permit graduates to teach immediately, as long as they enroll in graduate-level courses online or during after school hours. Other states allow students to teach after two semesters of full-time study. Alternative licensing programs have been designed to attract qualified job candidates to fields of teaching, such as mathematics, that are lacking in teachers.

Optional Certification and Continuing Education

Employed teachers can increase their salary by obtaining national certification through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. National certification, which is available to both public and private school teachers, allows educators to demonstrate their teaching abilities beyond what is needed for a state licensure. Mathematics certification is available at two levels: for teaching children ages 11-15 and for teaching secondary students ages 14 and older. Certification applicants need to have at least three years of teaching experience and submit portfolios that include video of themselves teaching a math lesson. Math teachers should show their ability to use manipulatives, technology or both to improve students' mathematical understanding.

Some school districts award teachers with national certification higher salaries or added benefits. Similarly, a master's degree in education also increases an educator's earning potential. Additional education also makes it easier to advance to positions such as school administrator, librarian or guidance counselor, according to the BLS.

Salary Information and Job Growth

According to the BLS, as of May 2012, median annual salary was $55,050 for all types of high school teachers (including math teachers), and job growth for this group was expected to increase by 6% over the 2012-2022 decade. As of May 2013, the median annual salary for postsecondary math teachers was $65,930 while median annual salary for all types of middle school teachers (a group which includes math teachers), was $53,940. Job growth for middle school teachers (all types) was expected to increase by 12% over the 2012-2022 decade.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics