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Elementary Teachers Job Overview

Teachers play an important role in fostering the intellectual and social development of children during their formative years. The education that students acquire is key to determining the future of those students. Whether in elementary or high schools or in private or public schools, teachers provide the tools and the environment for their students to develop into responsible adults.

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers play a vital role in the development of children. What children learn and experience during their early years can shape their views of themselves and the world and can affect their later success or failure in school, work, and their personal lives. Kindergarten and elementary school teachers introduce children to mathematics, language, science, and social studies. They use games, music, artwork, films, books, computers, and other tools to teach basic skills.

Kindergarten teachers use play and hands-on teaching, but academics begin to take priority in kindergarten classrooms. Letter recognition, phonics, numbers, and awareness of nature and science, introduced at the preschool level, are taught primarily in kindergarten.

Most elementary school teachers instruct one class of children in several subjects. In some schools, two or more teachers work as a team and are jointly responsible for a group of students in at least one subject. In other schools, a teacher may teach one special subject—usually music, art, reading, science, arithmetic, or physical education—to a number of classes. A small but growing number of teachers instruct multilevel classrooms, with students at several different learning levels.

With further preparation, teachers may move into such positions as school librarians, reading specialists, instructional coordinators, and guidance counselors. Teachers may become administrators or supervisors. In some systems, highly qualified experienced teachers can become senior or mentor teachers, with higher pay and additional responsibilities. They guide and assist less experienced teachers while keeping most of their own teaching responsibilities.

 

Job Tasks

  • Act as facilitators or coaches, using classroom presentations or individual instruction to help students learn and apply concepts in subjects
  • Introduce children to mathematics, language, science, and social studies using games, music, artwork, films, books, computers, and other tools to teach basic skills
  • Plan, evaluate, and assign lessons
  • Prepare, administer, and grade tests and other assignments
  • Maintain classroom discipline
  • Observe and evaluate a student's performance and potential
  • Provide additional assistance in areas in which the student needs help
  • Meet with parents and school staff to discuss a student's academic progress or personal problems
  • Participate in professional development

Training & Other Qualifications
The traditional route to becoming a public school teacher involves completing a bachelor's degree from a teacher education program and then obtaining a license. However, most states now offer alternative routes to licensure for those who have a college degree in other fields.

Education and Training
Traditional education programs for kindergarten and elementary school teachers include courses designed specifically for those preparing to teach. Among these courses are mathematics, physical science, social science, music, art, and literature, as well as prescribed professional education courses, such as philosophy of education, psychology of learning, and teaching methods. To maintain their accreditation, teacher education programs are now required to include classes in the use of computers and other technologies. Most programs require students to perform a student-teaching internship.

Licensure and Certification
All 50 states and the District of Columbia require public school teachers to be licensed. Usually licensure is granted by the State Board of Education or a licensure advisory committee. Teachers may be licensed to teach the early childhood grades (usually preschool through grade 3); the elementary grades (grades 1 through 6 or 8); the middle grades (grades 5 through 8); a secondary-education subject area (usually grades 7 through 12); or a special subject, such as reading or music (usually grades kindergarten through 12).

Requirements for regular licenses to teach kindergarten through grade 12 vary by state. However, all states require general education teachers to have a bachelor's degree and to have completed an approved teacher training program with a prescribed number of subject and education credits, as well as supervised practice teaching. Some states also require technology training and the attainment of a minimum grade point average. A number of states require that teachers obtain a master's degree in education within a specified period after they begin teaching. Most states require teachers to complete a minimum number of hours of continuing education to renew their license. Many states have reciprocity agreements that make it easier for teachers licensed in one state to become licensed in another.

Other Qualifications
In addition to being knowledgeable about the subjects they teach, teachers must have the ability to communicate, inspire trust and confidence, and motivate students, as well as understand the students' educational and emotional needs. Teachers must be able to recognize and respond to individual and cultural differences in students and employ different teaching methods that will result in higher student achievement. They should be organized, dependable, patient, and creative. Teachers also must be able to work cooperatively and communicate effectively with other teachers, support staff, parents, and members of the community.

Job Outlook
Employment is projected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations. Job prospects are best for teachers in high-demand fields, such as mathematics, science, and bilingual education, and in less desirable urban or rural school districts.

Job Prospects
Job opportunities for teachers will vary with the locality, grade level, and subject taught. Most job openings will result from the need to replace the large number of teachers who are expected to retire over the 2008–18 period. Job prospects should be better in inner cities and rural areas than in suburban districts. Currently, many school districts have difficulty hiring qualified teachers in some subject areas—most often mathematics, science (especially chemistry and physics), bilingual education, and foreign languages.

The supply of teachers is expected to increase in response to reports of improved job prospects, better pay, more teacher involvement in school policy, and greater public interest in education. In addition, more teachers may be drawn from a reserve pool of career changers, substitute teachers, and teachers completing alternative certification programs. Many states have implemented policies that will encourage even more students to become teachers because of a shortage of teachers in certain locations and in anticipation of the loss of a number of teachers to retirement.

 

Job Projection Data 2008-2018

  • Kindergarten Teachers
    • Job Growth: 15%
    • New jobs created: 27,000
  • Elementary Teachers
    • Job Growth: 16%
    • New jobs created: 244,200

Earnings
The mean annual age for Kindergarten teachers in May 2009 was $50,380. The middle fifty percent earned between $38,490 and $60,520. The lowest 10% earned 31,320 or less and the highest 10% earned $75,210 or more.

Teachers can boost their earnings in a number of ways. In some schools, teachers receive extra pay for coaching sports and working with students in extracurricular activities. Getting a master's degree or national certification often results in a raise in pay, as does acting as a mentor. Some teachers earn extra income during the summer by teaching summer school or performing other jobs in the school system.

*All information from the U.S. Dept. of Labor – Bureau of Labor Statistics – 2010-2011 Occupational Outlook Handbook

Graduate Teaching Assistants Job Overview

Graduate teaching assistants, often referred to as graduate TAs, assist faculty, department chairs, or other professional staff at colleges and universities by teaching or performing teaching-related duties. In addition, assistants have their own school commitments as students working toward earning a graduate degree, such as a Ph.D. Some teaching assistants have full responsibility for teaching a course, usually one that is introductory. Such teaching can include preparing lectures and exams, as well as assigning final grades to students. Others help faculty members by doing a variety of tasks such as grading papers, monitoring exams, holding office hours or help sessions for students, conducting laboratory sessions, and administering quizzes to the class. Because each faculty member has his or her own needs, teaching assistants generally meet initially with the faculty member whom they are going to assist in order to determine exactly what is expected of them. For example, some faculty members prefer assistants to sit in on classes, whereas others assign them other tasks to do during class time. Graduate teaching assistants may work one-on-one with a faculty member, or, in large classes, they may be one of several assistants.

 

Job Tasks

  • Assist faculty by teaching or performing teaching related duties
  • Prepare lectures and exams
  • Grade papers/assignments, monitor exams, conduct lab sessions, hold office hours and help sessions
  • Help develop and distribute various teaching materials
  • Pursue own academic coursework and studies
  • Participate in professional development

Training & Other Qualifications
Although graduate teaching assistants are students themselves pursuing advanced degrees, they usually work at the institution and in the department where they are earning their degree. Teaching or internship positions for graduate students at institutions that do not grant a graduate degree have become more common in recent years. Working with a mentor, graduate students teach classes and learn how to improve their teaching techniques. They may attend faculty and committee meetings, develop a curriculum, and learn how to balance the teaching, research, and administrative roles of faculty. These programs provide valuable learning opportunities for graduate students interested in teaching at the postsecondary level.

Job Outlook
Job openings will stem from faster than the average employment growth and many expected retirements.

Job Prospects
Opportunities for graduate teaching assistants are expected to be good, reflecting expectations of higher undergraduate enrollments. Graduate teaching assistants play an integral role in the postsecondary education system, and they are expected to continue to do so in the future.

 

Job Projection Data 2008-2018

  • Job Growth: 15%

Earnings
Mean annual wages in May 2009 of graduate teacher assistants was $32,770. The middle 50 percent earned between $22,740 and $41,080. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $16,560, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $50,220.

Instructional Coordinator Job Overview

Instructional coordinators—also known as curriculum specialists, personnel development specialists, instructional coaches, or directors of instructional material—play a large role in improving the quality of education in the classroom. They develop curricula, select textbooks and other materials, train teachers, and assess educational programs for quality and adherence to regulations and standards. They also assist in implementing new technology in the classroom. At the primary and secondary school levels, instructional coordinators often specialize in a specific subject, such as reading, language arts, mathematics, or science.

Besides developing curriculum and instructional materials, many of these workers plan and provide onsite education for teachers and administrators. Instructional coordinators mentor new teachers and train experienced ones in the latest instructional methods. This role becomes especially important when a school district introduces new content, programs, or a different organizational structure. For example, when a state or school district introduces standards or tests that students must pass, instructional coordinators often advise teachers on the content of those standards and provide instruction on how to implement them in the classroom.

 

Job Tasks

  • Assess educational programs for quality and adherence to regulations and standards
  • Develop curricula, select textbooks and other materials, train teachers
  • Recommend and implement new classroom technologies
  • Evaluate how well a school or training program's curriculum, or plan of study, meets students' needs
  • Recommend improvements based on their research and observations of instructional practice
  • Research teaching methods and techniques and develop procedures to ensure that instructors are implementing the curriculum successfully and meeting program goals
  • Meet with members of educational committees and advisory groups to explore how curriculum materials relate to occupations and meet students' needs
  • Monitor the ways in which teachers use materials in the classroom and supervise workers who catalogue, distribute, and maintain a school's educational materials and equipment.

Training & Other Qualifications
The minimum educational requirement for most instructional coordinator positions in public schools is a master's degree or higher—usually in education—plus a state teacher or administrator license. A master's degree also is preferred for positions in other settings.

Education and training
Instructional coordinators should have training in curriculum development and instruction or in the specific field for which they are responsible, such as mathematics or history. Courses in research design teach how to create and implement research studies to determine the effectiveness of a given method of instruction or curriculum and how to measure and improve student performance.

Instructional coordinators are usually required to take continuing education courses to keep their skills current. Topics may include teacher evaluation techniques, curriculum training, new teacher orientation, consulting and teacher support, and observation and analysis of teaching.

Licensure and Certification
Instructional coordinators must be licensed to work in public schools. Some states require a teaching license, whereas others require an education administrator license.

Other Qualifications
Instructional coordinators must have a good understanding of how to teach specific groups of students and expertise in developing educational materials. As a result, many people become instructional coordinators after working for several years as teachers. Also beneficial is work experience in an education administrator position, such as a principal or assistant principal, or in another advisory role, such as a master teacher, department chair or lead teacher.

Instructional coordinators must be able to make sound decisions about curriculum options and to organize and coordinate work efficiently. They should have strong interpersonal and communication skills. Familiarity with computer technology also is important for instructional coordinators, who are increasingly involved in gathering technical information for students and teachers.

Job Outlook
Much faster than average job growth is projected. Job opportunities should be favorable, particularly for those with experience in math and reading curriculum development.

Job Prospects
The number of instructional coordinators is expected to grow by 23 percent over the 2008–18 decade, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. These workers will be instrumental in developing new curricula to meet the demands of a changing society and in training teachers. Although budget constraints may limit employment growth to some extent, a continuing emphasis on improving the quality of education should result in an increasing demand for these workers. The emphasis on accountability also should increase at all levels of government and cause more schools to focus on improving standards of educational quality and student performance. Growing numbers of coordinators will be needed to incorporate the new standards into existing curricula and ensure that teachers and administrators are informed of changes.

Additional job growth for instructional coordinators will stem from an increasing emphasis on lifelong learning and on programs for students with special needs, including those for whom English is a second language. These students often require more educational resources and consolidated planning and management within the educational system.

Depending on experience and educational attainment, instructional coordinators may advance to higher administrative positions in a school system or to management or executive positions in private industry.

 

Job Projection Data 2008-2018

  • Instructional Coordinators
    • Job Growth: 23%
    • New Jobs Created: 31,100

Earnings
The mean annual age for Instructional Coordinators in May 2009 was $61,270. The middle fifty percent earned between $43,900 and $76,470. The lowest 10% earned 33,520 or less and the highest 10% earned $93,340 or more.

*All information from the U.S. Dept. of Labor – Bureau of Labor Statistics – 2010-2011 Occupational Outlook Handbook

Middle School Teachers Job Overview

Teachers play an important role in fostering the intellectual and social development of children during their formative years. The education that students acquire is key to determining the future of those students. Whether in elementary or high schools or in private or public schools, teachers provide the tools and the environment for their students to develop into responsible adults.

Middle school teachers help students delve more deeply into subjects introduced in elementary school and expose them to more information about the world. Middle school teachers specialize in a specific subject, such as English, mathematics, social studies, or science. They also may teach subjects that are career oriented.

In addition to conducting classroom activities, teachers oversee study halls and homerooms, supervise extracurricular activities, and accompany students on field trips. They may identify students who have physical or mental problems and refer the students to the proper authorities. Secondary school teachers occasionally assist students in choosing courses, colleges, and careers. Teachers also participate in education conferences and workshops.

With further preparation, teachers may move into such positions as school librarians, reading specialists, instructional coordinators, and guidance counselors. Teachers may become administrators or supervisors. In some systems, highly qualified experienced teachers can become senior or mentor teachers, with higher pay and additional responsibilities. They guide and assist less experienced teachers while keeping most of their own teaching responsibilities.

 

Job Tasks

  • Act as facilitators or coaches, using classroom presentations or individual instruction to help students learn and apply concepts in subjects
  • Build upon elementary learning delving deeper into subject knowledge
  • Plan, evaluate, and assign lessons
  • Prepare, administer, and grade tests and other assignments
  • Maintain classroom discipline
  • Observe and evaluate student performance and potential
  • Provide additional assistance in areas in which the student needs help
  • Meet with parents and school staff to discuss a student's academic progress or personal problems
  • Participate in professional development

Training & Other Qualifications
The traditional route to becoming a public school teacher involves completing a bachelor's degree from a teacher education program and then obtaining a license. However, most states now offer alternative routes to licensure for those who have a college degree in other fields.

Education and training
Traditional education programs for kindergarten and elementary school teachers include courses designed specifically for those preparing to teach. Among these courses are mathematics, physical science, social science, music, art, and literature, as well as prescribed professional education courses, such as philosophy of education, psychology of learning, and teaching methods. To maintain their accreditation, teacher education programs are now required to include classes in the use of computers and other technologies. Most programs require students to perform a student-teaching internship.

Licensure and Certification
All 50 states and the District of Columbia require public school teachers to be licensed. Usually licensure is granted by the State Board of Education or a licensure advisory committee. Teachers may be licensed to teach the early childhood grades (usually preschool through grade 3); the elementary grades (grades 1 through 6 or 8); the middle grades (grades 5 through 8); a secondary-education subject area (usually grades 7 through 12); or a special subject, such as reading or music (usually grades kindergarten through 12).

Requirements for regular licenses to teach kindergarten through grade 12 vary by state. However, all states require general education teachers to have a bachelor's degree and to have completed an approved teacher training program with a prescribed number of subject and education credits, as well as supervised practice teaching. Some states also require technology training and the attainment of a minimum grade point average. A number of states require that teachers obtain a master's degree in education within a specified period after they begin teaching. Most states require teachers to complete a minimum number of hours of continuing education to renew their license. Many states have reciprocity agreements that make it easier for teachers licensed in one state to become licensed in another.

Other Qualifications
In addition to being knowledgeable about the subjects they teach, teachers must have the ability to communicate, inspire trust and confidence, and motivate students, as well as understand the students' educational and emotional needs. Teachers must be able to recognize and respond to individual and cultural differences in students and employ different teaching methods that will result in higher student achievement. They should be organized, dependable, patient, and creative. Teachers also must be able to work cooperatively and communicate effectively with other teachers, support staff, parents, and members of the community.

Job Outlook
Employment is projected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations. Job prospects are best for teachers in high-demand fields, such as mathematics, science, and bilingual education, and in less desirable urban or rural school districts.

Job Prospects
Job opportunities for teachers will vary with the locality, grade level, and subject taught. Most job openings will result from the need to replace the large number of teachers who are expected to retire over the 2008–18 period. Job prospects should be better in inner cities and rural areas than in suburban districts. Currently, many school districts have difficulty hiring qualified teachers in some subject areas—most often mathematics, science (especially chemistry and physics), bilingual education, and foreign languages.

The supply of teachers is expected to increase in response to reports of improved job prospects, better pay, more teacher involvement in school policy, and greater public interest in education. In addition, more teachers may be drawn from a reserve pool of career changers, substitute teachers, and teachers completing alternative certification programs. Many states have implemented policies that will encourage even more students to become teachers because of a shortage of teachers in certain locations and in anticipation of the loss of a number of teachers to retirement.

 

Job Projection Data 2008-2018

  • Middle School Teachers
    • Job Growth: 15%
    • New Jobs Created: 101,200

Earnings
The mean annual age for Kindergarten teachers in May 2009 was $53,550. The middle fifty percent earned between $41,150 and $63,980. The lowest 10% earned 34,360 or less and the highest 10% earned $79,200 or more.

Teachers can boost their earnings in a number of ways. In some schools, teachers receive extra pay for coaching sports and working with students in extracurricular activities. Getting a master's degree or national certification often results in a raise in pay, as does acting as a mentor. Some teachers earn extra income during the summer by teaching summer school or performing other jobs in the school system.

*All information from the U.S. Dept. of Labor – Bureau of Labor Statistics – 2010-2011 Occupational Outlook Handbook

Educational/School Counselors Job Overview

Counselors work in diverse community settings designed to provide a variety of counseling, rehabilitation, and support services. Their duties vary greatly, depending on their specialty, which is determined by the setting in which they work and the population they serve. Although the specific setting may have an implied scope of practice, counselors frequently are challenged with children, adolescents, adults, or families that have multiple issues, such as mental health disorders and addiction, disability and employment needs, school problems or career counseling needs, and trauma. Counselors must recognize these issues in order to provide their clients with appropriate counseling and support.

Educational, vocational, and school counselors provide individuals and groups with career, personal, social and educational counseling. School counselors assist students of all levels, from elementary school to postsecondary education. They advocate for students and work with other individuals and organizations to promote the academic, career, personal, and social development of children and youth. School counselors help students evaluate their abilities, interests, talents, and personalities to develop realistic academic and career goals. Counselors use interviews, counseling sessions, interest and aptitude assessment tests, and other methods to evaluate and advise students. They also operate career information centers and career education programs. Often, counselors work with students who have academic and social development problems or other special needs.

Elementary school counselors provide individual, small-group, and classroom guidance services to students. Counselors observe children during classroom and play activities and confer with their teachers and parents to evaluate the children's strengths, problems, or special needs. In conjunction with teachers and administrators, they make sure that the curriculum addresses both the academic and the developmental needs of students. Elementary school counselors do less vocational and academic counseling than high school counselors do.

High school counselors advise students regarding college majors, admission requirements, entrance exams, financial aid, trade or technical schools, and apprenticeship programs. They help students develop job search skills, such as resume writing and interviewing techniques. College career planning and placement counselors assist alumni or students with career development and job-hunting techniques.

School counselors at all levels help students to understand and deal with social, behavioral, and personal problems. These counselors emphasize preventive and developmental counseling to enhance students' personal, social, and academic growth and to provide students with the life skills needed to deal with problems before they worsen. Counselors provide special services, including alcohol and drug prevention programs and conflict resolution classes. They also try to identify cases of domestic abuse and other family problems that can affect a student's development.

 

Job Tasks

  • Provide career, personal, social, behavioral and educational counseling
  • Emphasize preventive and developmental counseling to enhance students’ personal, social, and academic growth
  • Provide students with the life skills needed to deal with problems
  • Work with teachers and administrators to ensure that the curriculum addresses both the academic and the developmental needs of students
  • Advocate for students and work with other individuals and organizations to promote academic, career, personal, and social development of children and youth
  • Confer with teachers and parents to evaluate abilities, interests, talents, personalities, and special needs to help develop realistic academic and career goals
  • Develop and use interviews, counseling sessions, and interest and aptitude tests to evaluate and advise students and stakeholders
  • Operate career information and education programs

Training & Other Qualifications
Education and training requirements for counselors are often very detailed and vary by state and specialty, but a master’s degree usually is required to become a licensed counselor. Prospective counselors should check with state and local governments, prospective employers, and national voluntary certification organizations to determine which requirements apply.

Education and Training
Counselor education programs in colleges and universities often are found in departments of education, psychology, or human services. Fields of study may include college student affairs, elementary or secondary school counseling, education, as well as several other counseling fields. Courses frequently are grouped into core areas, including human growth and development, social and cultural diversity, relationships, group work, career development, counseling techniques, assessment, research and program evaluation, and professional ethics and identity. In an accredited master's degree program, 48 to 60 semester hours of graduate study, including a period of supervised clinical experience in counseling, typically are required.

Some employers provide training for newly hired counselors. Others may offer time off or tuition assistance to complete a graduate degree. Often, counselors must participate in graduate studies, workshops, and personal studies to maintain their certificates and licenses.

Licensure and Certification
Licensure requirements differ greatly by state, occupational specialty, and work setting. Some states require school counselors to hold a state school counseling certification and to have completed at least some graduate coursework; most require the completion of a master's degree. Some states require school counselors to be licensed, which generally entails completing continuing education credits. Some states require public school counselors to have both counseling and teaching certificates and to have had some teaching experience.

Other Qualifications
People interested in counseling should have a strong desire to help others and should be able to inspire respect, trust, and confidence. They should be able to work independently or as part of a team. Counselors must follow the code of ethics associated with their respective certifications and licenses.

Job Outlook
Employment is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations. Projected job growth varies by specialty, but job opportunities should be favorable because job openings are expected to exceed the number of graduates from counseling programs, especially in rural areas.

Job Prospects
Overall employment of counselors is expected to increase by 18 percent between 2008 and 2018, which is faster than the average for all occupations. However, growth is expected to vary by specialty.

Employment for educational, vocational, and school counselors is expected to grow by 14 percent, which is faster than the averagefor all occupations. Demand for vocational or career counselors should grow as multiple job and career changes become common and as workers become increasingly aware of counseling services. States require elementary schools to employ counselors. Expansion of the responsibilities of school counselors also is likely to lead to increases in their employment. For example, counselors are becoming more involved in crisis and preventive counseling, helping students deal with issues ranging from drug and alcohol abuse to death and suicide. Although schools and governments realize the value of counselors in helping their students to achieve academic success, budget constraints at every school level will dampen the job growth of school counselors. Federal grants and subsidies may help to offset tight budgets and allow the reduction in student-to-counselor ratios to continue.

 

Job Projection Data 2008-2018

  • Educational/School Counselors
    • Job Growth: 14%
    • New Jobs Created: 38,600

Earnings
The mean annual age for Educational/School Counselors in May 2009 was $55,030. The middle fifty percent earned between $40,260 and $67,160. The lowest 10% earned 31,140 or less and the highest 10% earned $84,080 or more.

School counselors can earn additional income by working summers in the school system or in other jobs.

*All information from the U.S. Dept. of Labor – Bureau of Labor Statistics – 2010-2011 Occupational Outlook Handbook

Secondary School Teachers Job Overview

Teachers play an important role in fostering the intellectual and social development of children during their formative years. The education that students acquire is key to determining the future of those students. Whether in elementary or high schools or in private or public schools, teachers provide the tools and the environment for their students to develop into responsible adults.

Secondary school teachers help students delve more deeply into subjects introduced in elementary and middle school and expose them to more information about the world. Secondary school teachers specialize in a specific subject, such as English, mathematics, physics, social studies, or chemistry. They also may teach subjects that are career oriented. Additional responsibilities of secondary school teachers may include career guidance and job placement, as well as following up with students after graduation.

In addition to conducting classroom activities, teachers oversee study halls and homerooms, supervise extracurricular activities, and accompany students on field trips. They may identify students who have physical or mental problems and refer the students to the proper authorities. Secondary school teachers occasionally assist students in choosing courses, colleges, and careers. Teachers also participate in education conferences and workshops.

With further preparation, teachers may move into such positions as school librarians, reading specialists, instructional coordinators, and guidance counselors. Teachers may become administrators or supervisors. In some systems, highly qualified experienced teachers can become senior or mentor teachers, with higher pay and additional responsibilities. They guide and assist less experienced teachers while keeping most of their own teaching responsibilities.

 

Job Tasks

  • Act as facilitators or coaches, using classroom presentations or individual instruction to help students learn and apply concepts in subjects
  • Build upon middle school studies delving deeper into subject knowledge
  • Teach subjects that are career oriented
  • Plan, evaluate, and assign lessons
  • Prepare, administer, and grade tests and other assignments
  • Assist students in choosing courses, colleges, and careers
  • Maintain classroom discipline
  • Observe and evaluate student performance and potential
  • Provide additional assistance in areas in which the student needs help
  • Meet with parents and school staff to discuss a student's academic progress or personal problems
  • Participate in professional development

Training & Other Qualifications
The traditional route to becoming a public school teacher involves completing a bachelor's degree from a teacher education program and then obtaining a license. However, most states now offer alternative routes to licensure for those who have a college degree in other fields.

Education and Training
Traditional education programs for kindergarten and elementary school teachers include courses designed specifically for those preparing to teach. Among these courses are mathematics, physical science, social science, music, art, and literature, as well as prescribed professional education courses, such as philosophy of education, psychology of learning, and teaching methods. To maintain their accreditation, teacher education programs are now required to include classes in the use of computers and other technologies. Most programs require students to perform a student-teaching internship.

Licensure and Certification
All 50 states and the District of Columbia require public school teachers to be licensed. Usually licensure is granted by the State Board of Education or a licensure advisory committee. Teachers may be licensed to teach the early childhood grades (usually preschool through grade 3); the elementary grades (grades 1 through 6 or 8); the middle grades (grades 5 through 8); a secondary-education subject area (usually grades 7 through 12); or a special subject, such as reading or music (usually grades kindergarten through 12).

Requirements for regular licenses to teach kindergarten through grade 12 vary by state. However, all states require general education teachers to have a bachelor's degree and to have completed an approved teacher training program with a prescribed number of subject and education credits, as well as supervised practice teaching. Some states also require technology training and the attainment of a minimum grade point average. A number of states require that teachers obtain a master's degree in education within a specified period after they begin teaching. Most states require teachers to complete a minimum number of hours of continuing education to renew their license. Many states have reciprocity agreements that make it easier for teachers licensed in one state to become licensed in another.

Other Qualifications
In addition to being knowledgeable about the subjects they teach, teachers must have the ability to communicate, inspire trust and confidence, and motivate students, as well as understand the students' educational and emotional needs. Teachers must be able to recognize and respond to individual and cultural differences in students and employ different teaching methods that will result in higher student achievement. They should be organized, dependable, patient, and creative. Teachers also must be able to work cooperatively and communicate effectively with other teachers, support staff, parents, and members of the community.

Job Outlook
Employment is projected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations. Job prospects are best for teachers in high-demand fields, such as mathematics, science, and bilingual education, and in less desirable urban or rural school districts.

Job Prospects
Job opportunities for teachers will vary with the locality, grade level, and subject taught. Most job openings will result from the need to replace the large number of teachers who are expected to retire over the 2008–18 period. Job prospects should be better in inner cities and rural areas than in suburban districts. Currently, many school districts have difficulty hiring qualified teachers in some subject areas—most often mathematics, science (especially chemistry and physics), bilingual education, and foreign languages.

The supply of teachers is expected to increase in response to reports of improved job prospects, better pay, more teacher involvement in school policy, and greater public interest in education. In addition, more teachers may be drawn from a reserve pool of career changers, substitute teachers, and teachers completing alternative certification programs. Many states have implemented policies that will encourage even more students to become teachers because of a shortage of teachers in certain locations and in anticipation of the loss of a number of teachers to retirement.

 

Job Projection Data 2008-2018

  • Secondary School Teachers
    • Job Growth: 9%
    • New Jobs Created: 96,300

Earnings
The mean annual age for Kindergarten teachers in May 2009 was $55,150. The middle fifty percent earned between $42,070 and $66,110. The lowest 10% earned 34,660 or less and the highest 10% earned $82,000 or more.

Teachers can boost their earnings in a number of ways. In some schools, teachers receive extra pay for coaching sports and working with students in extracurricular activities. Getting a master's degree or national certification often results in a raise in pay, as does acting as a mentor. Some teachers earn extra income during the summer by teaching summer school or performing other jobs in the school system.

*All information from the U.S. Dept. of Labor – Bureau of Labor Statistics – 2010-2011 Occupational Outlook Handbook

Special Education Teachers Job Overview

Special education teachers work with children and youths who have a variety of disabilities. A small number of special education teachers work with students with severe cognitive, emotional, or physical disabilities, primarily teaching them life skills and basic literacy. However, the majority of special education teachers work with children with mild to moderate disabilities, using or modifying the general education curriculum to meet the child's individual needs and providing required remedial instruction. Most special education teachers instruct students at the preschool, elementary, middle, and secondary school level, although some work with infants and toddlers.

The various types of disabilities that may qualify individuals for special education programs are as follows: specific learning disabilities, speech or language impairments, mental retardation, emotional disturbance, multiple disabilities, hearing impairments, orthopedic impairments, visual impairments, autism, combined deafness and blindness, traumatic brain injury, and other health impairments. Students are identified under one or more of these categories. Early identification of a child with special needs is an important part of a special education teacher's job, because early intervention is essential in educating children with disabilities.

Special education teachers can advance to become supervisors or administrators. They also may earn advanced degrees and become instructors in colleges that prepare others to teach special education. In some school systems, highly experienced teachers can become mentors to less experienced teachers.

 

Job Tasks

  • Use various techniques to promote learning; depending on the student, teaching methods can include intensive individualized instruction, problem-solving assignments, and small-group work
  • Help to develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for each student receiving special education
  • Design and teach appropriate curricula, assign work geared toward each student's needs and abilities, and grade papers and homework assignments
  • Involvement in the student’s behavioral, social, and academic development, helping them develop emotionally, and interact effectively in social situations
  • Prepare special education students for daily life after graduation
  • Provide students with career counseling and help them learn life skills
  • Help general educators adapt curriculum materials and teaching techniques to meet the needs of students with disabilities
  • Coordinate the work of teachers, teacher assistants, and related personnel, such as therapists and social workers, to meet the individualized needs of the student within inclusive special education programs
  • Communicate and coordinate with others involved in the child's well-being, including parents, social workers, school psychologists, occupational and physical therapists, school administrators, and other teachers
  • Participate in professional development

Training & Other Qualifications
All states require special education teachers to be licensed, which typically requires at least a bachelor's degree and the completion of an approved training program in special education teaching. Some states require a master's degree. Most states have alternative methods for entry for bachelor's degree holders who do not have training in education.

Education and Training
Many colleges and universities across the United States offer programs in special education at the undergraduate, master's, and doctoral degree levels. Special education teachers often undergo longer periods of training than do general education teachers. Most bachelor's degree programs last four years and include general and specialized courses in special education. However, an increasing number of institutions are requiring a fifth year or other graduate-level preparation. Some programs require specialization, while others offer generalized special education degrees. The last year of the program usually is spent student teaching in a classroom supervised by a certified special education teacher.

Licensure and Certification
All 50 states and the District of Columbia require special education teachers to be licensed. The State Board of Education or a licensure advisory committee usually grants licenses, and licensure varies by state. In some states, special education teachers receive a general education credential to teach kindergarten through grade 12. These teachers then train in a specialty, such as learning disabilities or behavioral disorders. Many states offer general special education licenses across a variety of disability categories, while others license several different specialties within special education.

For traditional licensing, all states require a bachelor's degree and the completion of an approved teacher preparation program with a prescribed number of subject and education credits and supervised practice teaching. However, some states also require a master's degree in special education, which involves at least 1 year of additional coursework, including a specialization, beyond the bachelor's degree. Most states require a prospective teacher to pass a professional assessment test as well. Some states have reciprocity agreements allowing special education teachers to transfer their licenses from one state to another, but many others still require that experienced teachers reapply and pass licensing requirements to work in the state.

Other Qualifications
Special education teachers must be organized, patient, able to motivate students, understanding of their students' special needs, and accepting of differences in others. Teachers must be creative and apply different types of teaching methods to reach students who are having difficulty learning. Communication and cooperation are essential skills because special education teachers spend a great deal of time interacting with others, including students, parents, and school faculty and administrators.

Job Outlook
Employment is expected to increase faster than the average for all occupations. Job prospects should be excellent because many districts report problems finding adequate numbers of licensed special education teachers.

Job Prospects
The number of special education teachers is expected to increase by 17 percent from 2008 to 2018, which is faster than the average for all occupations. Although student enrollments in general are expected to grow more slowly than in the past, continued increases in the number of special education students needing services will generate a greater need for special education teachers.

The number of students requiring special education services has grown steadily in recent years because of improvements that have allowed learning disabilities to be diagnosed at earlier ages. In addition, legislation emphasizing training and employment for individuals with disabilities and educational reforms requiring higher standards for graduation have increased demand for special education services. Also, the percentage of foreign-born special education students is expected to grow as teachers become more adept in recognizing disabilities in that population. Finally, more parents are expected to seek special services for children who have difficulty meeting the new, higher standards required of students.

In addition to job openings resulting from growth, a large number of openings will result from the need to replace special education teachers who switch to teaching general education, change careers altogether, or retire. At the same time, many school districts report difficulty finding sufficient numbers of qualified teachers. As a result, special education teachers should have excellent job prospects.

 

Job Projection Data 2008-2018

  • Special Education Teachers
    • Job Growth: 17%
    • New Jobs Created: 81,900

Earnings
Mean annual wages in May 2009 of special education teachers who worked primarily in preschools, kindergartens, and elementary schools were $53,770. The middle 50 percent earned between $41,210 and $64,350. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $34,010, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $79,850

Mean annual wages of middle school special education teachers were $54,750. The middle 50 percent earned between $42,690 and $64,740. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $35,690, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $79,820.

Median annual wages of special education teachers who worked primarily in secondary schools were $56,420. The middle 50 percent earned between $43,060 and $67,440. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $35,840, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $83,590.

In 2008, about 64 percent of special education teachers belonged to unions or were covered by union contracts.

In most schools, teachers receive extra pay for coaching sports and working with students in extracurricular activities.

Some teachers earn extra income during the summer, working in the school system or in other jobs.

*All information from the U.S. Dept. of Labor – Bureau of Labor Statistics – 2010-2011 Occupational Outlook Handbook

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