How to Get Started in Your Teaching Career
A teacher and classroom

How Long Does It Take to Train to Become a Teacher?

Teaching is one of the more rewarding careers available today. If you have a good rapport with people, are able to effectively communicate and don't mind speaking in front of groups, you'll be hard pressed to find a career that gives you as great a sense of accomplishment. Particularly, getting the chance to see the growth and development of your students over the course of a year or semester can make all the hard work and effort on the part of both you and your students worthwhile.

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There are many different teaching opportunities available that will allow you to hone your particular strengths as a teacher. Whether you want to teach children, adults or those with special needs, you'll be able to carve out a role where you can make an impact on the lives of others. You can focus on early childhood education, elementary school, secondary school or higher learning environments and may find work in either public or private schools.

Since there are so many different types of teaching jobs and teaching methods available, you'll need to find the ones that best suit your skills and interests. A great way to find out if teaching children is right for you is to volunteer in your community as a coach, tutor students or help out with an after-school program. After you know whether you want to work with kids or not, you'll have a better idea of where you'd like to specialize as a teacher.

How to Become a Teacher

Another crucial decision to make is whether to work in a private school or at a public school. Deciding in advance will help you figure out which credentials to pursue first. Many private school teaching jobs only require a bachelor's degree in the subject that you wish to teach—for example, someone with an English degree could start out teaching English as a Second Language classes at a private institution.

It's a good idea to have a background in education and working with the types of people you want to teach, however. This will help you to win over most would-be employers and also to handle the unique challenges of being a teacher. Elementary schools expect there to be at least some early childhood education training for teachers they hire, so it won't hurt to get that experience if you want to keep your options open.

Increasingly, many states are requiring that teachers have a master's degree in education to start teaching professionally. This may mean getting your Masters of Arts in Education and Special Education, Masters of Arts — English Language Learner or online master's degree in Special Education.

There are many arguments for and against working in private versus elementary schools. Private schools allow the teacher a greater degree of control over the curriculum and, generally, a less rowdy student body. However, the salaries are generally lower and the student population is much less diverse than in the public system. Public schools, on the other hand, have more money to invest in teacher salaries, teaching resources and continuing education programs.

How Much Do Teachers Make?

While teachers aren't often regarded as being well paid for what they do, compared to other professionals with a four-year degree, teachers tend to earn more. Plus, when you factor in that most teachers receive 12 weeks paid vacation per year, becoming a teacher starts to look even better.

Median salaries for kindergarten to grade 12 teachers are $47,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, some states, like New York, boast median kindergarten teacher salaries of more than $70,000 a year. In other states, like Montana, however, teacher salaries are rarely more than $40,000. If you want to maximize your earning potential, you need to meet the teaching requirements and be willing to locate to the states that pay the most.

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