Teaching is an important job. In fact, it’s one of the most important jobs there is — after all, for every brilliant doctor, successful business person, or cutting-edge entrepreneur out there, there has been a long line of teachers providing the education that got that person where they are today. And while teachers are often portrayed as selfless, overworked, and underpaid, that’s not a completely accurate picture.
Selfless, yes. Overworked? Sometimes. Underpaid? That depends entirely on where they end up teaching, what they teach, and how much education they have themselves. If you’re considering becoming a teacher, here’s a quick overview of what you can expect on your road to the classroom.
What You Should Know Before You Start Training
There’s more to teaching than just being in the classroom. Teaching has its perks, like summers off, but it also requires much work outside of school hours — time spent planning lessons, grading papers, meeting with parents, and more. Teaching often means taking your work home with you.
Teachers must have a teaching certificate — a license to teach. Teaching licenses in general fall into the categories of early childhood (preschool), elementary (kindergarten through 8th grade), and secondary (high school.) There are also specialty degrees, such as those for gifted education. Each license has its own educational requirements. Elementary school teachers need to teach many subjects, while middle and high school teachers may focus on only one. If you are considering a teaching career, it’s important to think about these things before you choose a training program.
College Life for Teachers in Training
In many ways, college is the same for teachers in training as for other students. However, there are some important differences. In addition to regular college classes, you will probably spend time at local schools observing, and some programs even ask you to volunteer at one. Both are good ways of deciding what age group with which you would like to work. When you have completed the requisite number of education classes, you will begin student teaching — teaching in the classroom of an experienced teacher in a real-world setting.
An advanced degree can open many doors for you, and in states with performance-based pay, an advanced degree alone can make a large difference in your salary. An advanced degree can also pave the way toward specialized positions such as school counselor or special education teacher, or open the opportunity for administrative jobs like school principal. And if you plan to teach in a college, an advanced degree is a must. Once you’ve earned your teaching license, a program like NSU Online lets you complete an advanced degree program while still doing what you love — teaching.
Elementary school teachers are in demand, and while the median income is between $36,680 and $58,170, the top 10 percent of elementary school teachers can earn more than $72,000. High school teachers average $38,360 to $61,000, and the top earners can make over $75,000. Demand for teachers will stay fairly steady, with higher demands in urban areas.