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How to Become a High School Math Teacher

Sep 14, 2019

Learn how to become a high school math teacher. Research the job description, education and licensing requirements, and find out how to start a career as a high school math teacher.

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  • 0:03 Become a High School…
  • 1:02 Career Requirements
  • 1:53 Step 1: Earn a…
  • 2:35 Step 2: Get a Teaching…
  • 3:15 Step 3: Complete a…

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High School Math Teacher Requirements and Duties

A prospective high school math teacher needs to be able to clearly explain mathematical concepts in a manner that students of every aptitude level can grasp. Math teachers also need solid communication skills and listening abilities. Teachers plan lessons, deliver instruction, evaluate student work, and assess student progress. Teaching high school math may be quite challenging since this required subject is difficult for some. Students who feel stressed may become unruly, and good teachers must find ways to circumvent those behaviors.

High School Math Teacher Degree

The minimum level of education needed to become a high school math teacher is a bachelor's degree. Typically, a prospective high school math teacher will major in mathematics or education and minor in the other; at minimum, coursework in both areas is required. Student teaching and a passing score on a battery of examinations are necessary for gaining teacher certification to teach in public schools, though specific requirements vary by state. Some states also require educators to earn a master's degree following certification.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree (required), master's degree (may be required by some states)
Degree Field Mathematics and/or education
Licensure and/or Certification State-specific teacher licensing and certification
Experience Student teaching internship required
Key Skills Patience, instructional skills, communication skills
Median Annual Salary (2018)* $60,320 (for all high school teachers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

How to Become a High School Math Teacher

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

The first step in becoming a high school math teacher is completing an undergraduate degree. Individuals can earn a degree in mathematics coupled with a teacher training program or earn a degree in education with a mathematics concentration. Some programs offer dual majors in education and math. Students study pedagogical practices, instructional methods and adolescent development, in addition to ways to utilize these topics in the high school classroom. Teacher training programs also typically include a student teaching experience, where a prospective teacher gains hands-on experience teaching in a classroom under the supervision of an experienced teacher. The two primary accrediting bodies are the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and Teacher Education Accreditation Council.

Step 2: Get a Teaching Certificate

Individuals who plan to become high school math teachers must obtain state-level certification to teach in a public school. Aside from a bachelor's degree and student teaching field experience, requirements for certification vary by state. To become a high school math teacher, individuals must generally pass the mathematics subject area and basic skills exams. Like certification requirements, on-going education and state-to-state transfer requirements may differ by state. Individuals can contact their state's board of education for comprehensive requirements for secondary math teachers. After completing a bachelor's degree program, student teaching, and any professional exams required by their state, graduates are prepared to apply for teacher certification.

Step 3: Complete a Master's Degree (Optional)

Prospective high school math teachers might think about earning a master's degree in education. Many master's programs are designed for individuals who have completed a bachelor's degree in math but lack teacher training and certification, or for working math teachers who want additional education. The Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) is a common option for individuals with an undergraduate degree who would like to become certified to teach. According to the BLS, certain states also require educators to earn a master's degree after they start teaching. The curriculum in a master's degree program may include advanced coursework in instructional approaches and strategies.

Those looking to make teaching a long-term career may consider earning a national certification. In addition to a master's degree, national certification allows math teachers to demonstrate their knowledge and proficiency. As the BLS notes, educators who have certifications could earn extra benefits, including higher salaries. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) offers National Board Certification in mathematics instruction and young adult mathematics instruction. According to NBPTS, requirements to begin the certification process include three years of teaching experience and a valid teaching license.

In summary, a career as a math teacher will require a bachelor's degree, completion of a student teaching experience, a state teaching certificate, and possibly a master's degree. High school math teachers must be fully prepared to plan, instruct, and assess student learning at the high school level.

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