Teaching Career Guide for 2018

Programs That May Be Currently Accepting Applicants

Earn your Master of Arts in Teaching and teaching credential online from top-ranked USC Rossier School of Education. A Bachelor’s degree is required to apply.

Earn a master's in educational leadership online from the University of Dayton's top-ranked online education program. No GRE required to apply.

Second in line to health, education is the most important factors of a person’s well-being. Children in school are equipped with the skills they will need to thrive as teenagers, and teenagers acquire knowledge and resources that will ready them for their future in university and later, their careers.

Deciding to become a teacher is a selfless act that means dedicating your life to helping others improve upon themselves, whether it’s teaching a second-grader how to multiply fractions or Fundamentals of Business at a university.

A teacher is able to choose a subject that they are passionate about and spend their lives enriching themselves through the acquisition of knowledge while also sharing that with others.

Whether you are hoping to have your own classroom of eager kindergarten students or dream of instructing hundreds at a prestigious university someday, your career as a teacher all begins with your own degree.

Most graduates who earned their bachelor’s in education want to enter the public school system as a primary or secondary education teacher. The BLS reported that the mean annual salary for a primary teacher to be $53,400, and for a secondary school teacher to earn $55,050 on average.

A Bachelors in Education can also prepare students for a variety of other careers, such as positions in school administration. These roles include that of principal and vice principal, administrator or school counselor. Usually these jobs require extra certificates or advanced degrees, but the majority of them all link back to a four-year undergraduate degree in education. The BLS reported the median annual earnings for someone employed in school administration to be $87,760 in May 2012.

There are also careers in business and non-educational fields that can be started with a bachelor’s in education. There are oftentimes entry-level employers that don’t require a specific bachelor’s degree, but instead cite only the completion of an undergraduate program. A student who studies education in university may be able to apply the skills and discipline that they learned over the course of their studies to other jobs and grow beyond that through work experience.

In 2017, expect one of the top teaching degrees to become more available online: the Masters in Education Online. Universities are quickly realizing the interest in a Masters in Education, especially for existing teachers or recent graduates.

Teaching Degrees

All K-12 teachers are required to have at least a bachelor’s degree. A four year program in elementary education is needed to teach children from kindergarten and beyond, while a preschool teacher may be able to find a job and begin teaching with an associate’s. However, in today’s competitive job market and the advancement of education resources and training, a bachelor’s degree is preferred among employers.

Bachelor of Elementary Education

A Bachelor of Elementary Education can prepare you for a future of working with children in kindergarten through 6th grade. You will learn how to teach them the skills they need to develop across a variety of core subjects and such as language arts, mathematics, science, social sciences and electives.

Psychology and communication skills are also highly important to be a successful teacher, because beyond having the academic knowledge, you will need the problem-solving capabilities and social techniques that work well with children and will help you engage students as well as maintain a leadership position in the classroom.

+Find Bachelors in Education Programs

Bachelor of Secondary Education

If you would prefer to teach high school students, a challenging position with the potential to be incredibly rewarding, then your professional journey will begin with a Bachelor of Secondary Education with a subject-specific concentration. Over the course of the general degree, you will learn about various teaching methods and skills needed to educate and intrigue students, as well as the particular needs of adolescents.

Teaching them can pose a particular challenge as the age period of secondary school students presents a variety of emotional, physical and psychological changes that affect every aspect of a teenager’s life. A high school teacher needs to be flexible, compassionate, understanding and willing to learn as much as teach.

Teaching internships and intensive study of your concentration will also come into play, and you’ll gain a broad as well as focused insight on the particular area of academia that you want to teach. Biology, chemistry, English literature as well as foreign languages are all possibilities. Spanish high school teachers, for example, may enter not knowing more than a few words but graduate fluent and ready to begin instructing others.

Master of Education

A Master of Education degree is directed toward teachers who want to advance their careers and knowledge in the classroom or who already have a teaching degree but want to become qualified to teach beyond the traditional classroom setting. Some of the common focal areas for a master’s degree in education include classroom technology, educational psychology, economics and policy, museum education, higher education, school counselling and bilingual education.

+Find Masters in Education Programs

Teaching Certification

All teachers are required to be certified, though the specific licensing and certification required varies among states. The Praxis Series is the most important of teacher certifications, offered in over 40 different states by the Educational Testing Service. Although each state has individual requirements and baseline qualification scores, the typical pathway is passing the Praxis I and Praxis II exams.

The National Evaluation Series (NES) is administered by Pearson, a computer-based testing provider. Although it is not offered in every state, the NES exam is a solid test to consider for certification as it is offers a thorough and inclusive test of teachers on a variety of different topics, including several academic subjects.

Finally, for instructors who want to go even further, the National Board Certification exam can be taken to demonstrate a teacher’s exemplary knowledge of a specific subject. This certification provides advancement opportunities as well as the potential for salary bonuses and is administered through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

Careers with a Teaching Degree

The type of undergraduate degree you earn will determine which professional pathway you take, and there are several options to consider right from the start. An elementary school teacher, high school teacher and ESL teacher are the most common teaching positions that provide educators with constant face-to-face interaction with students in both public schools and private institutions.

Teaching Careers

Elementary School Teacher

Kindergarten and the years spent in elementary school provide children with the formative skills they will use throughout the rest of their lives, as well as experiences that go on to shape their entire identity as teenagers and adults. A teacher of these levels will have a knowledge of all the core subjects and teach children things such as math, reading, science, social sciences and the arts.

View all Elementary Education programs >>

A Bachelor of Elementary Education and in-state license are the baseline requirements for an elementary school teacher.

Work Environment
An elementary school teacher can work in a public school or licensed private educational institution. Many college preparatory schools offer classes to children beginning at age 4 and continue throughout their entire academic career. Private schools may offer higher quality teaching materials and a smaller student-to-teacher ratio, though the demand for qualified and passionate teachers is greater in public schools, particularly in poorly funded areas.

Elementary school teachers work school hours and spend additional time off after work and during the weekends and school breaks grading papers, organizing lesson plans and preparing for classes. They usually do not work during the summer holiday, though they will return earlier than students to begin preparing for the upcoming academic year.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median annual salary of an elementary school teacher to be $53,090 as of May 2012.

High School Teacher

A high school teacher works in secondary education schools instructing grades 9 through 12, with students who are approximating 14 to 18 years of age. They are specialized in a specific field such as algebra or biology, and instruct that topic on a rotating period of classes according to the particular high school’s schedule.

High school teachers face additional challenges in the work place as they are dealing with adolescents, all of whom are going through one of the largest transitory periods of their lives and require more particular and focused emotional support and effective communication that younger children.

A Bachelor of Secondary Education and in-state license to teach are needed in order to become a high school teacher.

Work Environment
A high school teacher can work in either a public or private school, and the experience will vary depending on the institution. Small schools may leave a teacher seeing the same students daily, while larger public schools will have a teacher instructing 5 classes with 28 or more students.

The demand of this large amount of students calls for additional work outside of the classroom, particularly hours spend grading papers and exams, organizing lesson plans and meeting with parents and staff. Teachers are also held responsible for the results on standardized testing at all grade levels, though for high school teachers this can be a cause of even more persistent stress given that they are attempting to prepare students for a life post-graduation.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the high school teacher’s median annual salary to be $55,050 as of May 2012.

ESL Teacher

Many parents move to the United States in pursuit of a better life for themselves, but especially for their children. These children are often scared and dealing with a large amount of additional stress as they attempt to acclimate to a new country and culture, which includes mastering a new language of which they may understand very little.

This compiled with the need to stay on top of their regular academic instruction requires a dedicated teacher who has both the knowledge of a traditional teacher as well strong patience and persistence.

Depending on the level of school they wish to teach, an ESL teacher will need at least a bachelor’s degree in elementary, secondary or post-secondary education, preferably with a minor or concentration in English as a second language. Many ESL teachers earn a standard bachelor’s degree and then obtain their Master of Education in ESL or a graduate certificate in the field.

Work Environment
ESL teachers can work across all fields of the education system, but in public schools and private institutions they deal mostly with elementary, middle school and high school aged children.

The ESL department is often separated from the common population, so they will be required to implement all the core courses that the student would learn in the standard classes on their own. An ESL teacher could also serve as its own unique class, helping students comprehend what they learned in their regular English-speaking courses as well as working on language-building exercises such as word games, puzzles, reading and literature, videos, computer work and quizzes.

Real-life interaction is also highly important, so a big part of the job is holding conservations with students in English and encouraging them to contribute while building a level of confidence that will allow them to interact with their peers and the outside world.

Often times an ESL teacher may be required to be fluent in a language other than English, most often Spanish, in order to more effectively communicate and comfort their students. It is important that an ESL teacher has a strong appreciation and understanding of other cultures, as well as the psychology of moving and acclimating to a drastically new environment, particularly on children.

Many ESL teachers work part-time and receive hourly wages as opposed to the set figure of a full-time instructor. The actual schedule and hours will depend on the particular institution. Some schools may only need an ESL teacher a few times a week, while areas with higher immigrant populations may require one full-time.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the median annual wage of an ESL teacher to be $24.57, and likewise a full-time instructor’s income to be $51,110 as of 2013.

Top 3 Teaching Employers

You may wish to earn a degree and wind up working at one of the same schools you attended as a child and were inspired to join the education field in the first place. Or maybe you have your eyes set on the horizon, across state borders and in an entirely new place.

While a public or private school is the traditional route, there are also companies that hire educators and can provide unique experiences that will help you grow both professionally and personally. Fast Company published an article on the top 10 companies for educators, and three of those are featured below.

Kaplan is one of the nation’s most trusted and recognized names in test-prep. Millions of students’ lives have been changed by the one-on-one attention they’ve received throughout the company’s 75 year history.

The admissions process for employees is extensive, but the job opportunities in both the US and Canada are enriching and unique in that you don’t just belong to a school, but a corporation. Kaplan caters to students at various educational levels in addition to providing graduate and professional courses through programs like Kaplan Medical.

Since its humble launch in 2011, LearnZillion is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and is a unique educational platform that strives to provide valuable resources and support for teachers. At present, the company has 120,000 registered teachers and together they work to provide lesson plans and resources based on the Common Core State Standards initiative that has been adopted by forty-four of the fifty states.

The idea of Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) is at the heart of all of LearnZillion’s content and they strive to provide teachers with resources and materials that will go on to be instructed to millions of students.

Beyond 12
Although nearly every student in the U.S. has access to secondary education, only 10 percent of high school graduates from lower-income families obtain a degree compared to the 50 to 75 percent of middle and upper-income children. Beyond 12 is a San Francisco based non-profit that offers online tools for high schools to track the course of alumni as well as an early detection system and student engagement site.

Their mission is to bridge the gap between low-income students and universities to ensure that everyone, regardless of their financial background, has equal opportunity to receive higher education. The organization has various positions available, but also hires college coaches.

These individuals have been out of college for three years or less and work hands-on with high school and college students from underserved backgrounds across the country providing guidance and support that will help them navigate the complicated and often times overwhelming high school-to-college transition.

Teaching Occupation Tool

We have used the US Department of Labor & Bureau of Labor Statistics data combined with our research and created this tool for teachers to explore potential types of teaching careers. Use the tabs above to navigate to all occupations.

All Teaching Occupations

All occupations are below. You can search for the specific teaching career you are interested in reviewing data for.

Teaching Occupation
Median Salary
Growth %
Growth #
Health Specialties Teachers, Postsecondary168,090,000 $112,950 36.1%97,200
Nursing Instructors and Teachers, Postsecondary56,840,000 $70,650 35.4%34,200
Biological Science Teachers, Postsecondary52,750,000 $86,200 19.5%21,200
Philosophy and Religion Teachers, Postsecondary23,210,000 $71,350 19.3%10,600
Law Teachers, Postsecondary15,990,000 $126,270 17.6%6,500
Preschool Teachers352,420,000 $32,040 17.4%199,400
Special Education Teachers, Preschool24,080,000 $57,860 16.2%7,400
Art, Drama, and Music Teachers, Postsecondary97,500,000 $75,350 16%35,500
Area, Ethnic, and Cultural Studies Teachers, Postsecondary9,150,000 $78,120 15.8%3,800
Foreign Language and Literature Teachers, Postsecondary30,880,000 $67,910 15.3%10,800
Business Teachers, Postsecondary85,030,000 $88,740 14.7%30,700
Political Science Teachers, Postsecondary17,050,000 $82,670 14.6%6,200
Education Teachers, Postsecondary59,980,000 $65,180 14.6%23,500
Architecture Teachers, Postsecondary7,190,000 $84,470 14.3%2,700
Psychology Teachers, Postsecondary37,930,000 $76,390 14.2%13,900
Economics Teachers, Postsecondary13,710,000 $102,120 14.2%4,900
Self-Enrichment Education Teachers202,360,000 $41,020 13.9%97,900
Physics Teachers, Postsecondary14,160,000 $90,500 13.8%5,000
Chemistry Teachers, Postsecondary21,470,000 $83,360 13.7%7,300
History Teachers, Postsecondary23,640,000 $73,720 13.6%8,300
Social Sciences Teachers, Postsecondary11,030,000 $78,690 13.4%3,500
Environmental Science Teachers, Postsecondary5,300,000 $86,200 13.2%1,800
Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers, Postsecondary14,890,000 $61,750 13.1%4,600
Social Work Teachers, Postsecondary10,970,000 $67,500 13.1%3,500
Postsecondary Teachers189,490,000 $74,040 13%69,500
Kindergarten Teachers158,240,000 $53,480 13%65,100
Sociology Teachers, Postsecondary16,900,000 $74,860 12.7%5,700
Computer Science Teachers, Postsecondary35,410,000 $80,730 12.7%11,600
Communications Teachers, Postsecondary29,470,000 $69,230 12.7%10,100
Anthropology and Archeology Teachers, Postsecondary6,100,000 $81,410 12.5%1,900
Middle School Teachers630,620,000 $57,620 12.4%211,200
Elementary School Teachers1,353,020,000 $56,830 12.3%467,400
Recreation and Fitness Studies Teachers, Postsecondary18,650,000 $65,220 12.2%6,300
English Language and Literature Teachers, Postsecondary76,320,000 $68,390 12.2%23,600
Vocational Education Teachers, Postsecondary121,200,000 $53,130 11.8%36,600
Engineering Teachers, Postsecondary36,650,000 $102,000 11.8%11,400
Mathematical Science Teachers, Postsecondary54,010,000 $74,200 11.5%16,800
Atmospheric, Earth, Space Sciences Teachers, Postsecondary10,890,000 $90,340 11.4%3,500
Library Science Teachers, Postsecondary4,540,000 $72,440 10.8%1,400
Geography Teachers, Postsecondary4,440,000 $74,690 10.6%1,400
Graduate Teaching Assistants126,030,000 $32,970 10.3%38,000
Forestry and Conservation Science Teachers, Postsecondary1,850,000 $84,810 9.9%800
Home Economics Teachers, Postsecondary3,620,000 $68,030 9.6%1,400
Special Education Teachers39,620,000 $57,820 9.5%10,800
Adult Basic and Secondary Education and Literacy Teachers65,990,000 $52,830 8.7%19,900
Teacher Assistants1,192,590,000 $26,000 8.6%382,600
Agricultural Sciences Teachers, Postsecondary9,890,000 $90,100 8%3,000
Special Education Teachers, Kindergarten, Elementary School200,820,000 $57,140 6.2%45,200
Secondary School Teachers960,380,000 $59,330 5.5%312,600
Special Education Teachers, Middle School94,820,000 $59,590 5.2%21,100
Career/Technical Education Teachers, Middle School14,000,000 $56,970 5.2%4,900
Career/Technical Education Teachers, Secondary School81,560,000 $57,370 5%27,500
Special Education Teachers, Secondary School135,520,000 $61,350 4.6%28,500

Top Skills for Teachers

Below are some of the top skills many teachers have in common.

Work with Children
Working with children takes a special person who needs patience and clarity in speaking.
Desire to Help Others
Teaching is helping, and the best teachers are the ones that enjoy helping others.
Passion for Education
Most teachers love learning themselves, and love teaching others. The passion shows!
Teaching 5-year-old can be difficult, and patience is essential.
The ability to communicate clearly and concisely is imperative.
Developing new and fun exercises to help students learn in different ways.

Helpful Teacher Resources

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ page for information regarding Kindergarten and elementary school teachers in the United States.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ page for all information regarding high school teachers in the United States.

An explanation of a Master of Education as well as the different career options available to a person who earns one.

Fast Company’s list of the top 10 businesses in education.