If you have your sights set on becoming a math teacher then you'll need at least a bachelor's degree and hands-on experience in order to earn your teaching license. Math teachers can also continue their education and training at the graduate level or earn special certifications.
Math teachers work with students at the middle school, secondary school 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 after specifically completing 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
|Other Requirements||Licensure required to teach in public schools and frequently in other venues|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*|| Middle school teachers (all types): 6%
High school teachers (all types): 6%
Postsecondary math teachers: 16%
|Median Salary (2015)*|| $55,860 Middle school teachers (all types): $54,940
High school teachers (all types): $57,200
Postsecondary math teachers: $67,170
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.
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 2015, the median annual salary was $57,200 for all types of high school teachers (including math teachers), and job growth for this group was expected to increase by 6% over the 2014-2024 decade. As of May 2015, the median annual salary for postsecondary math teachers was $67,170, while the median annual salary for all types of middle school teachers (a group which includes math teachers), was $55,860. Job growth for middle school teachers (all types) was expected to increase by 6% over the 2014-2024 decade, while growth for postsecondary math teachers was expected to be 16%.
To get started in this field, aspiring math teachers will need to complete a bachelor's degree program and student teaching then obtain a license. Graduate-level programs and special certifications are also available if you're interested in pursuing advanced teaching or administrative positions.