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Junior High Teacher Career

How to Become a Junior High Teacher

The “middle years” between elementary school and high school are filled with opportunities, discoveries, and challenges in children’s intellectual, emotional, and social development. In fact, educational psychologists have found that success in the mid-primary years of school is a significant predictor of future academic and personal achievements. As mentors and guides through this stage of education, junior high teachers play a crucial role in developing young minds in grades six, seven, and eight. 

If you’re interested in working with students during some of the most formative years in their learning, then a career as a junior high teacher might be the perfect fit for you.

What Is a Junior High Teacher?

A high school teacher selects a student with their hands raised.

Junior high school, sometimes referred to as middle school, is a marked transition from elementary school to high school. This is a time focused on developing a student’s cognitive, memory, and information-processing skills in preparation for the rigor of high school. Junior high teachers instruct students in sixth through eighth grade, spending most of their day presenting and facilitating individual lesson plans in one or more academic subjects. They utilize a variety of teaching techniques that appeal to various learning styles and methods. Outside of school hours, teachers spend their time preparing materials, grading assessments, working one-on-one with students, and communicating with parents about a student’s progress.

A commitment to constant learning and self-improvement is important to be a successful teacher. Most junior high teachers work collaboratively in planning their curriculum and often have a strong cross-curriculum focus in their assignments, demonstrated by the wave of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education happening in schools today.  

What Does a Junior High Teacher Do?

The day-to-day responsibilities of a junior high teacher can include: 

Creating lesson plans to teach students a subject.

  • Assessing students to evaluate their abilities, strengths, and weaknesses.
  • Teaching lessons they have planned to an entire class or to smaller groups.
  • Grading students’ assignments and exams.
  • Communicating with parents or guardians about their child’s progress.
  • Working with students individually to help them overcome specific learning challenges.
  • Preparing students for standardized tests required by the state.
  • Developing and enforcing classroom rules.
  • Supervising students outside of the classroom—for example, during lunchtime or detention. 

How Do I Become a Junior High Teacher?

The first step in becoming a junior high teacher is to earn a bachelor’s degree in the subject you want to teach, such as mathematics or science. In your program of study, you’re often required to take education-focused courses to help you adapt your content knowledge to a teaching role. Additionally, you’ll be required to complete an in-person student teaching experience within a middle school classroom. Student teaching will help you develop your teaching, classroom management, curriculum planning, assessment, and time management skills. 

Once you earn your degree, you must pass your state’s required exams for teaching certification and apply for your teaching license. Then, you can begin applying for open teaching positions. Most teaching licenses must be updated every five years. In order to keep your certification up-to-date, you must complete the necessary continuing education requirements of your state. Some teachers pursue additional certifications to enhance their careers. Earning a gifted and talented education (GATE) certification, a reading specialist certification, or a National Board certification will only further develop your knowledge, skills, and hiring potential. For teachers who want to increase their annual salary or advance into administration, a master’s degree is essential. 

Best Degrees for Junior High Teachers

Mathematics Education (Middle Grades) – B.S.

An online teacher certification program for aspiring middle...

An online teacher certification program for...

An online teacher certification program for aspiring middle school math teachers. Leads to teaching license in states that have a middle-grades math teaching license.

Specific grade levels will vary depending on teaching licensure in your state.

  • Time: 61% of grads earned this degree within 30 months.
  • Tuition: $3,575 per 6-month term.

Candidates for this science teaching degree program often include:

  • Aspiring junior high math teachers who currently lack a teaching license
  • Substitute teachers
  • Career-changers with a passion for math
  • School paraprofessionals
  • Others who feel the call to teach

This science teaching degree program includes online courses in the following areas: general education, foundations of teaching, science, mathematics, pedagogy, science education, field experience, and a teacher performance assessment. It requires in-classroom observation and a term of full-time demonstration teaching. This science teaching degree prepares you to be eligible for a teaching license in any of the 50 states.

Science Education (Middle Grades) – B.S.

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for...

An online teaching degree and teacher...

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for aspiring middle school science teachers. Leads to teaching license in all states that have a middle-grades general science teaching license.

Specific grade levels you are qualified to teach will vary depending on teaching certification in your state.

  • Time: 69% of grads earned this science teaching degree within 36 months.
  • Tuition: $3,575 per 6-month term, plus a one-time fee of $350 to cover the cost of an at-home science lab.

Candidates for this online science teaching degree often include:

  • Aspiring junior high or middle school science teachers who currently lack a teaching license
  • Substitute teachers
  • Career-changers with a passion for science
  • School paraprofessionals
  • Others who feel the call to teach

This science teaching degree program includes coursework in the following areas: general education, foundations of teaching, science, mathematics, pedagogy, science education, field experience, and a teacher performance assessment. It requires in-classroom observation and a term of full-time demonstration teaching.


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What Skills Does a Junior High Teacher Need?

education, high school, teamwork and people concept - group of smiling students and teacher with not

A junior high teacher requires a variety of professional and interpersonal skills, most notably: 

  • Communication
  • Active Listening
  • Persistence
  • Adaptability
  • Collaboration
  • Creativity
  • Patience
  • Organization
  • Tech-savvy 
  • Time management
  • Empathy
  • Self-reflection

 

How Much Does a Junior High Teacher Make?

$61,320

Location, experience, and specialty have the largest impact on income for teachers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for a junior high teacher in the U.S. is $61,320, with the top 10% earning more than $99,470 and the bottom 10% earning less than $45,510. Teachers are typically able to increase their income by furthering their education, gaining experience, or transitioning into administrative roles. On average, junior high teachers with a master’s degree earn $20,000 more per year than those with just a bachelor’s degree. 

What Is the Projected Job Growth?

4%

Currently, the job field for middle school or junior high teachers is projected to grow by 4% between 2021 and 2031, about as fast as the average occupation. Certification in a subject that is experiencing a shortage of teachers, such as STEM, may increase a teacher’s job security.

Where Does a Junior High Teacher Work?

Varies

The majority of junior high teachers work in local public, private, or charter elementary or secondary schools with students in grades six through eight. Work hours are generally during school hours, and teachers may be expected to meet with parents, students, and other teachers before and after school. Most teachers work a 10-month school year and have a 2-month summer break.

 

Interested in Becoming a Junior High Teacher?

Learn more about degree programs that can prepare you for this meaningful career.

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