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Certified Teacher: Career Info & Qualifications

Depending upon their credentialing, certified teachers may work with children from kindergarten to twelfth grade, teaching single or multiple subjects. Read further to learn about the education requirements, employment outlook and salary to decide if you're interested in a career as a certified teacher.

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Career Definition for Certified Teachers

Certified teachers play a vital role in the education and socialization of children. Certified teachers are responsible for preparing lesson plans, assisting students in learning and applying academic concepts, evaluating student performance, organizing classroom activities, preparing report cards, meeting with parents and other professionals involved with a child's well-being, and meeting all applicable statewide standards for education. Depending upon whether a certified teacher works in a pre-school or in primary, middle, or high schools, other supervisorial duties will also apply.

Education Bachelor's in education or related field suiting desired teaching level
Job Duties Preparing lesson plans, assisting students in learning, evaluating students
Median Salary (2017)* $56,900 (for kindergarten and elementary school teachers)
$57,720 (for middle school teachers)
$59,170 (all high school teachers)
Job Growth (2016-2026)* 8% (middle and high school teachers)
7% (kindergarten and elementary school teachers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Typically, the first step to secure a career in teaching is to complete a 4-year degree program, which includes specific courses in education. In most cases, a semester of student-teaching must be finished within those 4 years. It is important to decide what level of schooling you wish to teach since the education required to become, for example, a kindergarten teacher is much different than that of a high school teacher. All 50 states require licensing for public school teachers, but not always for teachers in private schools. When planning a career in teaching, it is a good idea to check with the Board of Education in your state to know what to expect.

Required Skills

Certified teachers must be sensitive to the many ethnic, cultural, gender, and socio-economic factors that influence a child's learning, and be willing to apply a variety of teaching methods to address these influences. Not only must they be able to communicate well with children, but those in teaching must also communicate with peers, supervisors, and parents. Organization is also helpful.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an average growth of 8% in high school and middle school teaching jobs and 7% for kindergarten and elementary school teaching positions, between 2016 and 2026. Certified teachers who are willing to relocate to the South and West where jobs are most plentiful may have a big advantage when it comes to getting hired.

Many factors influence the earning power of certified teachers, such as experience, geography, subject taught, and whether they teach in public or private institutions; however, in 2017, the BLS reported that the median annual income for all kindergarten and elementary teachers was $56,900, while middle school teachers earned a median salary of $57,720, and high school teachers earned $59,170.

Alternate Career Options

Career and Technical Education Teacher

Usually having earned a bachelor's degree and experience in their area of specialty, these teachers educate students in vocational and technical areas to enter the job market in industries like construction, architecture, agriculture, food, healthcare, hospitality, and tourism. As of May 2017, the BLS reported their annual median salary as $55,240 and projected a slower-than-average employment growth of 4%, from 2016 through 2026.

Teacher Assistant

The requirements vary for teacher assistants, depending on the specific position and the hiring school district; some secure positions with high school diplomas and others have postsecondary credits or degrees. An average rise in available positions of 8% during the 2016-2026 decade was projected by the BLS. As of 2017, teaching assistants earned an annual median wage of $26,260, the BLS said.

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