Education & Teaching

The great Nelson Mandela once said that “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

In countries where children do not receive an adequate education, poverty levels are higher and children often find themselves plunged into the workforce in order to help support their families.

An important component in a quality education system is trained teachers who are able to share their love of education and expertise in their subject areas with the eager young learners in their classrooms. Shortages in qualified teaching staff abound, making it one of the best times to consider a career in teaching.

Education Requirements

Most states require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in order to work as a teacher.

Students who attend a bachelor degree program in a full-time capacity can expect to take four years to earn their degree.

While programs may differ slightly, basic courses should include the foundations of general education, child development, legal and ethical issues in education, models/theories of instruction, elementary education, strategies for special needs inclusion in the regular classroom and classroom management skills. Students also should receive exposure to the core subjects of math, the language arts, science, social studies, the fine arts and health/physical education.

A well-rounded education is necessary for those who wish to teach at an elementary-school level. Candidates who plan to teach in secondary schools will be required to declare an area of concentration and will receive advanced training in that subject area. For instance, a candidate who intends to teach math at the high school level will receive training in math subjects such as algebra, geometry, calculus and advanced math.

While not necessary to enter the teaching workforce, a master’s degree in education will open more doors and allow for higher wages. Master degree programs are focused on pedagogy, advanced methods of teaching, the incorporation of technology into the classroom and the philosophy of education. Candidates for master’s degrees are required to complete a student-teaching assignment and craft a thesis paper covering an original educational concept.

Doctorate degrees in education are available but not required when working in a K-12 teaching environment. Those who wish to teach at a college or university may be required to earn a doctorate degree; also, certain members of the administration for K-12 schools, such as superintendents, are required to hold a doctorate degree.

Teachers also are required to become certified. As with the certification process for other professions, individual states are permitted to set their own rules for certification, so it is best to check with the state of intended practice before seeking certification.

Future Outlook

According to statistics provided by the U.S. Department of Education, the United States currently is experiencing a teacher shortage due to what is being called the “graying of American education.” As long-term teachers reach retirement age, schools are struggling to fill their positions with qualified replacements.

Demand for teaching professionals is expected to grow by 14 percent between now and 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some areas, such as those in inner cities, may experience an even higher rate of demand for new teaching staff. 

The average annual salary for elementary school teachers as of May 2010 was $48,000, according to bureau data. The lowest wage earners in this category brought in $31,000 while the top 10 percent of wage earners made more than $76,000. 

Salaries for secondary school teachers were slightly higher, with the average at $53,000 annually. The top 10 percent of wage earners at this level – most likely those with the most education and years of experience – made more than $83,000 annually.

Browse Degrees by Subject

Popular Schools