How to Become a Certified Teacher

Certified Teacher 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.

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If you think you might want to become a certified teacher, the time to begin preparing for that is while you are still in high school.

You’ll need to keep your GPA up and take classes that will provide you with the background you’re going to need. You should also start thinking about what you would like to teach and what grades you are most interested in. For instance, consider whether you want to teach a single subject, as in high school or multiple subjects, as in elementary school.

Steps to Becoming a Teacher

The following is a quick guide on the simple steps you should take to become a teacher. Of course, every concentration and degree specialty is different, so be sure to talk with your guidance counselor, academic advisor, and your program within teaching education to figure out the specific steps for your degree of interest.

1. Prepare for College & Understand Specific Teaching Requirements

Once you enter college, begin taking courses that will count towards your teaching degree. You’ll need a Bachelors degree in order to continue on for your Masters degree and teaching credential. College is the time that you will really need to focus on the age group you want to teach.

There are different requirements for teaching elementary school and high school students. In addition, you will also want to consider whether you would like to teach special needs children. Teaching special needs children can be an extremely rewarding career choice.

You will need your teaching credential plus additional education and certification before you are allowed to teach in a special needs classroom but it will be worth it when you see the positive way you are able to impact your students lives.

2. Earn your Teaching Degree in Education

There are a number of different choices here, from an Associate’s degree to Bachelor’s degree (most common), and graduate programs such as the Master’s in Education (M.Ed) or Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT), and a doctorate of education.

If you are unsure, check out our teaching degree finder, or read more about the most popular degrees and specialties here:

3. Build a Specialized Resume that Caters to Your Passion

As soon as you decide that you want to become a certified teacher, you need to sit down with a college career counselor. Your counselor will help ensure that you take the appropriate classes. It’s important that you have a well-rounded education and that your college classes include Math, Science, History, English and Social Studies, or whichever specific educational area you are planning on teaching.

4. Enter your Teaching Career

As a teacher, you’ll enjoy a rich career helping students attain their educational goals. You will play an important role in society by making a positive impact on the lives of future generations. Below you will find specific career writeups that go into more detail on each teaching career.

Teaching Careers

5. Continuing your Education to a Graduate Degree

Education is a constantly changing field. New rules and regulations are being created on a constant basis that affects the school system in America. As educators, we know that the learning process never stops. Continuing teacher education allows educators to not only learn better techniques to help their students, but it keeps them up-to-date with new standards.

Many people are satisfied when they receive their Bachelor’s in Education because it helps them open up many doors. Continuing the degree further to a Master’s or Doctorate helps to open up even more doors and allows degree holders to get jobs in education administration, specialty fields and higher-paying teaching positions.

There are several continuing teacher education programs available to those who already have their Bachelor’s. Most states will encourage a continuing education by offering specific courses for teachers to attend. These can include both learning labs and virtual education programs. Focus groups may also be available depending on your location. A focus group will help to educate a teacher on a specific issue or help teachers connect with one another to better understand their skills.

Continuing teacher education courses can vary. Many of the courses that you will find focus on a specific topic to help you develop specific skills as a teacher. Some courses may include dealing with children with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), advanced classroom management, creative lesson planning, understanding substance abuse, bully awareness or basic skill fundamentals. If you are going to continue on and get a Master’s or Doctorate, many of these topics will be covered regardless of your concentration.

If you are a dedicated teacher, it is important that you always have the right tools available to teach young minds. A continuing teacher education program can help you to further develop your skills, giving you the perfect tools and knowledge for situations that you will face every day as an educator. Whether you need a refresher course to revisit some basic skills that were taught as you earned your Bachelor’s or you need a new, more specific set of skills, a continuing teacher education course will be able to help you.

Teaching Occupation Tool

By Grade

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.

Teaching OccupationAnnual
Median Salary
Growth %
Growth #
Preschool Teachers $32,040 17.4%199,400
Postsecondary Teachers $74,040 13%69,500
Kindergarten Teachers $53,480 13%65,100
Middle School Teachers $57,620 12.4%211,200
Elementary School Teachers $56,830 12.3%467,400
Graduate Teaching Assistants $32,970 10.3%38,000
Special Education Teachers $57,820 9.5%10,800
Adult Basic and Secondary Education Teachers $52,830 8.7%19,900
Teacher Assistants $26,000 8.6%382,600
Secondary School Teachers $59,330 5.5%312,600

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.