So You Want to Be a Teacher? 4 Steps to Take

If you’re thinking about being a teacher, congratulations! It’s an exciting career that can be extremely rewarding if it’s up your alley. If becoming a teacher or professor is something you’re considering, here are four (and possibly 5) steps you’ll need to take.

Step 1: Get Your Bachelor’s  Degree

The first step to becoming a teacher in any state is earning your Bachelor’s degree. You have a few choices here regarding major.

You can choose to go after a specific subject you’re interested in, like math or biology, for instance. This will open the door for other career opportunities, just in case you’re not positive you want to teach after graduation. Or you want backups if teaching doesn’t work out for you. Just make sure to take a few education related courses during your undergraduate years. You may also need to take classes through your state after graduation if you chose this road.

Or you can choose to specifically go after a Bachelor’s in education. This can be a good route if you’re serious about a job in teaching.

Step 2: Take Part in Student Teaching

During college or immediately after, you should be taking part in student teaching. Many colleges have programs with local schools so talk to your department head about this opportunity. Most states require you to have a certain number of hours before you can become a teacher.

Step 3: Earn Your Certification

Schools will also require you to earn a certification to teach. This is for the subjects and grades you’ll be working in. You’ll be asked to take a general teaching certification test in addition to the subject specific exams. You can find out more about certification options through your state.

Not all private schools ask their teachers to have certifications, but it varies from school to school.

Step 4: Work Towards Your Master’s Degree

Some states will require you to earn a Bachelor’s degree, certification, and a Master’s degree. Even if your state isn’t one of them, working towards your Master’s can further your career. You will have more employment options and could qualify for higher pay.

If you’re interested in administration too, you’ll absolutely want to work towards a higher education.

Optional Step: Earn Your Doctorate

While many students wish to teach K-12, others would prefer to teach at a college level after they graduate. This often requires the highest degree you can earn. Some subjects only offer up to Master’s, but others do offer Doctorates. Whether or not you go after this higher degree depends on your career goals and particular subject or major.

Becoming a teacher requires more work after your Bachelor’s degree, even if your state’s education minimum is undergraduate school. They will ask for experience working under a certified teacher through student teaching, certification, and, in some cases, higher degrees like a Master’s or Doctorate. If you think teaching is for you though, talk with your guidance counselor to discuss your options regarding your future major, courses, and career.

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Hilary Cairns

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