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What Education Do You Need to Become a Teacher?

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Teachers have a big responsibility in this world. They are in the spotlight a lot more in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic as some of our unsung heroes. They are known for being flexible, working way more hours then they are paid, having a love of their subject, and ultimately a love for children. This is a job that is invested in future generations, by offering knowledge, lifeskills, and an imperative aspect of development. Is this a career that fits your passions and interests?

I Want to be a Teacher Where Do I Start?

It is good to think about what age group you enjoy working with most, as that will inform the type of education that you undergo, as well as the focus you ultimately engage. Think about the different tiers: 

  • Early childhood educators often work with students ages birth to 6 
  • Elementary Educators generally work in an elementary school setting with children who are in grades K-6th
  • Middle School Educators are generally trained to work with students grades 5-8
  • High School Educators work with students grades 9th-12th
  • There is, of course, the world of post secondary education, which we will not touch upon further here

Elementary school teachers are the ones who do it all. They are versed in all of the subjects, and often spend the majority of the day with the same students. This requires a certain personality, and is not for everyone. Once you begin getting into middle and high school, teachers generally teach one particular subject. This is different in that many educators in this field love a subject so much, which is how they got into teaching in the first place. 

What are the different Types of Teaching Degrees?

There are a wide variety of teaching degree options, which can include what are called teaching certifications. As far as degrees go there are many degrees that can support this profession. Many people interested in engaging in the discipline of teaching start out with an associates degree. They may then start working in the field, especially in early childhood education, and then matriculate into a bachelor’s program from there. There are many ways to achieve a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education or Elementary Education while working in the field, as many offerings are delivered online. The online programs are primarily designed for those who live busy lives, and require a flexible design to succeed. There are many educational leadership degree programs that may pique your interest, as they are designed for students who want to impact policy, or work on the administrative end. Many teachers, however, emerge from those programs. Many students go on to achieve a master’s degree in the field of education. This two year degree will often enable teachers to have a pay increase, as well as opportunities for promotion. As you can see, there is not one best degree for teaching, as it is very much based on preference. 

What are the Requirements for Becoming a Teacher?

Beyond the degree programs and certifications touched upon above, most states require prospective educators to pass three versions of the PRAXIS exam in order to teach in a public school classroom, as well as in most private school environments. The initial PRAXIS exam (PRAXIS Core for Educators) is administered and is often used as an entry exam for teaching programs. There are then the requirements of passing the PRAXIS Content Knowledge for Teaching Assessment and the PRAXIS Subject Assessment. These tests are taken to ensure graduates of a teaching program are prepared to teach students in a classroom environment. 
If this is a path you are ready to embark on, ask yourself some key questions that will inform how to get started. Do you want to get your feet wet with an associates degree or start out bigger with a bachelor’s degree? Do you have a bachelor’s degree in another field and want to switch gears to embark on a career in teaching? There are many ways to achieve a teaching certificate after you have already gotten a bachelor’s degree in something else. In fact, many online programs specifically cater to students in this position. In fact, these programs are often flexible enough for you to be able to student teach while engaging in the coursework. Also, it is never too late to become a teacher. Many students choose this path as a second career, as a way to do something useful and relevant with their lives. Maybe this you?