Math teacher jobs and opportunities tend to become increasingly specialized with education level. All math teachers must be able to handle social and planning responsibilities, but as the educational level taught increases they may specialize in specific math disciplines.
Mathematics is a significant part of the curriculum in most educational programs. Math starts with an overview of general concepts and basic arithmetic in elementary school. It increases in complexity and branches out into other subfields, like trigonometry and calculus, throughout high school and college.
|Elementary School||Middle School||High School||Post Secondary|
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree||Bachelor's degree||Bachelor's degree||Master's or doctoral degree in subject area|
|Other Requirements||Teacher education program and state licensure||Teacher education program and state licensure||Teacher education program and state licensure||None|
|Job Growth (2014-2024)*||6%||6%||6%||16%|
|Median Annual Salary (2015)*||$54,890||$55,860||$57,200||$67,170|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
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Math teachers are needed at every level to provide engaging instruction to students. They must prepare for class every day, creating and adapting lesson plans that not only suit the school's learning objectives but that are also tailored to their students' abilities. Math teachers present lessons, provide illustrations, give homework assignments, create and grade tests, review or grade homework and complete the administrative work required to record and submit grades. There are more detailed descriptions for each level of education below.
Elementary School Math Teachers
Elementary school teachers are typically generalists who teach many subjects to one class. The mathematics component includes arithmetic, fractions, basic data analysis, simple geometry, decimals, money, time and measurement. Most elementary schools hire teachers that have a bachelor's degree and have completed a teacher certification program in elementary education. Elementary school teachers are also required to pass state licensure exams.
The median annual salary for elementary school teachers was $54,890 as of 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Jobs at this education level are projected to grow 6% from 2014 to 2024, with the largest growth expected in the South and West. Prospective elementary school teachers will also find that there are better prospects in rural and urban school districts.
Middle School Math Teachers
Middle school math teachers serve as the bridge between elementary and high school. They provide instruction in subjects such as pre-algebra, geometry and algebra I that not only builds upon skills acquired in elementary school, but that also readies students for what they will be taught in high school. These teachers are primarily responsible for providing math instruction but can also teach other subjects like science or art, depending on the school.
According to BLS, the median annual salary for middle school teachers was $55,860 as of 2015. The projected growth for middle school teaching jobs is 6% from 2014 to 2024, which is just about as fast as the average rate of growth for all occupations. Middle schools teachers are expected to have a bachelor's degree in addition to completing a teacher certification program. Most states also require middle school teachers to pass a licensure exam based on the math skills they intend to teach.
Secondary School Math Teachers
Secondary school teachers tend to provide specialized mathematics instruction to different groups of students. Disciplines taught by high school math teachers include algebra I and II, geometry, statistics and trigonometry. Secondary schools look for math teachers with a either a bachelor's degree in math or, a bachelor's degree and a passing score on a state-authorized, subject-area examination. All secondary school math teachers must also have some form of teacher education training.
As of 2015, the median annual salary for secondary school teachers was $57,200, as reported by BLS. The employment growth for teachers at this level of education is 6% from 2014 to 2024, due to a larger class sizes and enrollment rates.
Postsecondary Math Teachers
Subjects taught by undergraduate and graduate math teachers can range from remedial math to more advanced topics like combinatorics, model theory and analysis I and II, depending on the audience. For example, some math professors may focus on providing remedial math instruction or business math to high school graduates who need refresher courses or who want to improve their career chances. On the other hand, other math professors can offer courses in advanced calculus, topology or algebraic number theory. Class sizes may vary greatly, from one or two students to a large lecture hall. College math professors may also have graduate student assistants to help ease their workload.
A master's degree in mathematics is required to teach at a community college, 4-year university or technical school. It is even required to take part-time, temporary or adjunct faculty positions. For a tenure-track college faculty position, a Ph.D. in a specialized mathematics field is the norm. According to BLS, the median annual salary for post secondary math teachers as of 2015 was $67,170, and the expected job growth from 2014 to 2024 is 16%. Prospective post secondary teachers may also find part-time or adjunct positions more available than tenure-track ones. Teachers at this level of education have the opportunity to gain added income from publications, research and consulting fees.
Prospective math teachers can typically expect job outlooks, salary, educational requirements and specialization options all to increase with the age level of the students. Those teaching younger ages usually have more classroom management responsibilities while teachers at the middle and high school levels may take on guidance roles. Postsecondary math teachers may conduct research and provide other consultation in addition to teaching their classes.