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Education Career Guide Details of teacher jobs.

Details of being a teacher.

Before deciding if teaching is right for you, you probably want to know all the ins-and-outs of teacher life. From salaries, to the types of teacher careers, and more, you need to know it all. This guide will help you learn all the details about teacher careers so you can decide if it's the right profession for you.

Career outlook and salaries.

If you're serious about becoming a teacher, it's important to know exactly what you're getting into. This includes knowing the teaching career outlook and teacher salary information that can help you determine if being a teacher is the right fit for you. While the teaching career outlook and teaching salary shouldn't be the only factor in determining your profession, it is vital to be informed so you know what to expect. 

Teaching Salaries

Teaching Career Growth In The Next 10 Years

Understand that teacher salaries will vary based on where you live, how long you've been in the profession, and the experience and education you have. Similarly, career outlook varies based on where you live and the school's needs near you. Spend time talking to teachers and school administrators in your area to understand their need and salaries for educators. Public school teacher salaries are also public information and should be available online. 

Continued licensure.

Before becoming a teacher, don't forget that you will need to get re-licensed every few years. Most states require re-licensure every 5 years and have their own process for how to complete this licensure. Most states require:

  • Applications
  • Professional evaluations
  • Time in-classroom
  • Specific goals for improvement

Additionally, if you are a certified teacher in one state, but plan to move, you may wonder what your options are. Luckily, more than 40 states have reciprocity and your certification will likely transfer. Learn how each state handles your teacher certification transfer here.


Teacher unions.

Currently there is a lot of conversation and debate about teacher unions. It's smart to do your research before you decide to join or not join a teacher union. Teacher unions are a strong, unified body that work to advocate for teachers and education. There are pros and cons of joining a teacher union, and you should carefully consider which is best for you.


  • Legal protection and advice.
  • Support and guidance from other education professionals. 
  • Discuss and learn about educational trends and debates. 
  • Unions give teachers power with the union for labor and contract negotiations.
  • Monetary opportunities for life insurance, credit cards, mortgages, and more. 
  • Professional development opportunities.


  • You might not agree with union politics or opinions.
  • Union fees aren't cheap, so for some teachers the cost to join may not be worth it.
  • You may not need the help that a union offers, so it may not be for you.

Curriculum for each elementary-school grade.

Learn which elementary grade you're interested in teaching based on the specific curriculum each one focuses on. 

In Kindergarten students will learn:

  • How to count to 100
  • How to recognize numbers
  • How to read and write their name as well as a few other words
  • How to read and write the alphabet
  • Basic science and history concepts
  • Motor skills
  • Social skills

In first grade students will learn:

  • Basic addition and subtraction
  • Number grouping
  • Reading basic books on their own
  • How to comprehend what they read
  • Legible writing
  • Elements of weather
  • Animal and plant life
  • To recognize and draw with colors, shapes, and lines

In second grade students will learn:

  • Number skipping
  • Basic fractions
  • Complex addition and subtraction
  • Basics of money
  • Fluent reading and comprehension
  • How to write different sentence types
  • Scientific life cycles
  • Basics of anatomy, ie muscles, organs, bones
  • Communities of social science

In third grade students will learn:

  • Multiplication and division
  • Fractions
  • Probability
  • Chapter books and non fiction books
  • Grammar and spelling
  • Habitats and forces of nature
  • Geography 
  • Information about countries around the world

In fourth grade students will learn:

  • Adding and subtracting fractions
  • Factors and multiples of numbers
  • Convert and calculate units of measure
  • Characteristics of lines and angles
  • Word roots and prefixes/suffixes
  • Research strategies
  • How to develop their own writing style and voice
  • Fossils
  • Meteorology
  • Electricity
  • History of their home state
  • State government

In fifth grade students will learn:

  • Order of operations and complex math equations
  • Basic geometry of shapes and lines
  • Number plotting and data sets
  • Reading and writing reports of fiction and non-fiction books
  • Poetry, autobiography, and fiction writing
  • Solar systems
  • Photosynthesis
  • Digestive systems
  • The Scientific Method
  • Citizenship
  • United States history and governments

Popular and in-demand fields.

English, math, science—there are all kinds of specialties you can focus on as a secondary education teacher. But before you decide which one you want to pursue, it's good to know which are the most popular and in-demand for schools around the country. This information can help you pick a field that is needed in school districts, making you a valuable candidate for job openings. 

STEM education.

Science, technology, engineering, and math fields are valuable for students around the country. STEM is one of the fastest growing and highest paid fields, making teachers in these fields vital. Expect many job opportunities at the highest pay for these teaching jobs. 

Special needs education.

Growing diagnostic attention for developmental and intellectual disorders are making special education teachers even more in-demand than before. Research shows that there are roughly 22,000 special education teachers graduating each year, but this still isn't enough to meet the growing demand.

ELL education.

ELL or English Language Learning education is an increasingly popular and needed area of teaching. With the increasing trend of immigration, the US can expect more students who are working to learn English, along with their other educational needs. ELL teachers can help these kinds of students all around the country.

Difference between elementary and secondary education.

Before deciding which type of teaching degree to pursue, it's important to understand the major differences between elementary education and secondary education. These key differences make teaching these students a unique experience, and you'll want to be sure you understand which course of teaching is right for you.

Elementary education.

  • Elementary students are usually kindergarten through 5th or 6th grade.
  • Elementary teachers usually teach all the subjects, from math to English, in the course of the day.
  • Elementary students sometimes leave the classroom for special classes like physical education or music.
  • Elementary teachers traditionally have the same students (anywhere from 15-30 in total) for roughly 7 hours a day.
  • Elementary students will usually have short breaks called recess during their school day.
  • Elementary students are either year-round or traditional, meaning they either have 9 months of school and 3 months of summer break, or attend school year-round with periodic 1 or 2 week breaks spread out across the year.

Secondary education.

  • Secondary education includes middle school, junior high, and high school.
  • Secondary teachers often focus on one or two subjects instead of the whole range of education.
  • Secondary school teachers usually have students that rotate in and out of their class during the day for unique sessions or "periods."
  • Each period for secondary students can range from 45 minutes to an hour and a half long.
  • Secondary teachers often have a "prep period" that allows them to catch up on work for their students.
  • Secondary students are usually on traditional schedules, with 9 months of school and 3 months of summer break.
  • Secondary educators need to be prepared to work with older students who are looking into potential careers.

Get started on the path to become a teacher today.

If being a teacher is your dream, it's time to get started on your journey to become one. You can apply to WGU today and get started as soon as next month. Don't delay, your future career is waiting!