Primary and secondary school is the foundation of an educated society, and qualified teachers are vital. Earning your teaching degree is a great way to improve your community in a stable and growing field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 12 percent increase in elementary and middle school teaching jobs and a 6 percent increase in high school teaching jobs over the next eight years. Earning a degree from a reputable university will prepare you for in-demand teaching fields such as mathematics, science, interdisciplinary studies, special education, social science, and elementary education. If you are interested in becoming a teacher, consider the steps below to help you begin the process. It’s never too late to pursue a rewarding career.
Choose your area of study.
The first and most important step is to choose your teaching specialty. Teach what you love. If you excel in science, you’ll probably enjoy teaching the coursework to others. Peruse the teaching degree programs of your chosen university to help you make your decision.
The second step depends on your level of education:
For first-time students:
- Earn your bachelor’s degree. Once you’ve decided on an area of study, it’s time to apply, enroll, and earn your B.A. degree. In addition to coursework and assessments, all teaching students must complete preclinical experience that includes observation hours and teaching lessons and demonstration teaching.
If you already hold a bachelor’s degree:
- Complete a teacher preparation or master’s degree program. After earning your bachelor’s degree, teaching grads must complete a teacher preparation program in order to qualify for state licensure. You may choose to go further by pursuing a master’s degree in education as well. This path offers advanced teaching methods and coursework, providing you with deeper knowledge and a competitive edge in the job market.
Complete a background check and pre-exams.
All teachers must pass a background check before working in a classroom environment. The final phase before licensure is to pass Basic Skills, Content, Praxis, and Pedagogy exams.
Learn more about state licensure requirements.
The final step in securing your new career is licensure. Teacher licensure requirements vary depending on state laws and may include a number of factors, such as:
- Completion of a bachelor’s degree program
- Submission of transcripts
- Completion and clearance of a background check
- Passing of required entrance exams and basic skills tests
Explore the job market.
Once you are fully licensed, it’s time to explore you options in the teaching job market. In addition to searching online job sites, the Bureau of Labor Statistics provides comprehensive maps that illustrate where teachers are needed, average salaries by state and other valuable information. Your degree has given you the tools to succeed—jump in and make a difference!
Western Governors University is a nonprofit, accredited, online university. WGU offers bachelor's and master's online degree programs in education. Find out more about WGU's Teachers College