Time, dedication and a sense of humor are a few of the requirements to become a teacher. When you're a teacher, every day brings new trials and joys. If you can't learn to push through the tough times and cling to the laughter, you may want to consider a different career path.
Education Requirements to Become a Teacher
All 50 states require teachers to hold at least a Bachelor's degree before being eligible to teach. Most universities offer degrees in education with specialties in early childhood education, elementary education, secondary education and special education. These programs focus on curriculum, classroom management and the psychology of learning.If you've received your Bachelor's degree in a field other than education, but you decide you want to pursue teaching, check whether your state offers an alternate program for certification that wouldn't require you to receive a second Bachelor's degree. Because some states suffer from a constant shortage of teachers, you may even find that your state offers a quick, emergency certification that will allow you to teach while pursuing additional training and education.
Some states require that teachers receive a Master's degree either before teaching or within a specified time-frame following certification. Make sure you're familiar with your state's specific education requirements. The Certification Map provides you with easy access to nationwide teaching requirements.
Time in the Classroom
Most states require that teachers go through a period of time as a student teacher. This allows you to experience the daily trials of the classroom from a teacher's perspective. Some of this time is spent as a quiet observer, but at some point the mentoring teacher turns the classroom over to the student teacher, giving you full responsibility for lesson planning, teaching and classroom management.
Choosing a Specialty
If you plan on teaching at the middle school or high school level, you'll probably have to choose an area of concentration. Common specialties include: English, reading, math, science, geography, history, music, health and physical education. If you're planning to teach high school, you may even need to choose a more distinct specialization, like biology, chemistry or calculus.
Testing and Certifications
After completing your required coursework, you'll need to take a teacher's certification exam as well as additional tests to qualify you to teach within your chosen area of specialization.
Many teachers decide within the first five years of their career that teaching isn't for them. If you want to choose a career for the long haul, consider a few other teaching requirements:
- The ability to remain well-organized, planning assignments and alternate activities for a full school year
- The ability to think on your feet; when you're dealing with a room full of kids, things don't always go as planned and you have be willing to be flexible and creative
- Dedication to the students; a good teacher will care about the students more than she'll care about her salary long summers off
- The ability to leave your work at work; some of the kids in your class will touch your heart and soul in ways you never expected-in order to survive as a teacher, you'll have to learn to leave some of those things at work
- Willingness to put in long hours during the school year
- The ability to interact comfortably with children and adults; even though you're going into teaching so you can work with kids, you still have to meet with other teachers, principals and parents
- Self-motivation; when you're in front of the class, you're there alone, so you have to be able to push yourself to keep on going
- Comfort speaking to and leading groups
After you've decided that teaching's the right field for you, rest confident that you will touch students' lives, making their futures brighter. And even if you think the requirements to become a teacher seem overwhelming, don't let that stop you from having the opportunity to change students' lives forever.