Middle School Teacher: Employment Info & Qualifications

Nov 18, 2020

Career Definition for Middle School Teachers

Middle school teachers foster intellectual and individual development of children between the fifth and eighth grades, either within the elementary school or in a separate school dedicated specifically to this age group. Middle school teachers design age-specific curricula, prepare activities, administer tests, grade assignments, and enforce discipline in the classroom.

Education Bachelor's in core education field and teaching certification
Job Duties Design curricula, prepare activities, grade assignments
Median Salary (2019)* $59,660 (all middle school teachers)
Job Growth (2019-2029)* 4% (all middle school teachers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

All teachers are expected to have at least a bachelor's degree, and public schools require a teaching license; private schools may or may not require the same license. Requirements for obtaining the license vary by state. Optimal education for middle school teachers will be a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university in an area of specialization (English, history, etc.), along with a teaching certificate. Another possibility, though now less favored by employers, is a more general bachelor's degree in early childhood education. Though middle school teachers are not required to earn a master's degree, additional certification and a higher degree in education may offer a more competitive salary and better career options. Teachers with extensive on-the-job experience and education may be able to move ahead into a position as mentor, guidance counselor, supervisor, program director, or school principal.

Required Skills

Middle school teachers are just as involved in teaching as they are in personal development. One minute they are involved in the lesson plan, and the next, in helping a student set a new personal goal or share ideas with his/her peers. Yet, the biggest challenge for middle school teachers comes from outside the academic curricula. Faced with the lowest retention rate among elementary school teachers, the most essential skills for middle school teachers might prove to be good humor and an ability to turn students' anger, hostility, and raging hormones into a lesson and a memorable experience.

Career and Economic Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS,, the median annual salary among middle school teachers was reported as $59,660 in May 2019. Private school teachers usually earn less, but they sometimes receive other benefits, such as subsidized housing or childcare discounts. The BLS predicted that employment of middle school teachers is projected to increase by 4% between 2019 and 2029.

Alternate Career Options

Similar career options in this field include:

Teacher Assistant

Individuals wishing to enter a career working in schools more quickly might consider completing some postsecondary courses or an associate's degree to find employment working under the direction of a teacher to give students extra instruction, attention, or supervision. From 2019-2029, the BLS expected positions for teacher assistants to grow at an average pace of 4%. In 2019, these assistants earned an annual median salary of $27,920, per the BLS.

Career and Technical Education Teacher

These teachers provide instruction in vocational and technical areas, such as culinary arts, healthcare, and auto repair. Employers usually require a bachelor's degree and work experience in the related subject matter for these positions. Public school teachers typically need to be certified or licensed as well. Average employment growth of 2% was projected by the BLS for this profession from 2019-2029. The BLS also reported median earnings of $60,800 per year for career and technical education teachers employed in middle schools as of 2019.

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