Teacher Training and Qualifications
The traditional route to becoming a public school teacher involves completing
a bachelor's degree from a teacher education program and then obtaining a
license. However, most States now offer alternative routes to licensure for
those who have a college degree in other fields. Private school teachers do not
have to be licensed but may still need a bachelor's degree.
Education and training. Traditional
education programs for kindergarten and elementary school teachers include
courses designed specifically for those preparing to teach. Among these courses
are mathematics, physical science, social science, music, art, and literature,
as well as prescribed professional education courses, such as philosophy of
education, psychology of learning, and teaching methods. Aspiring secondary
school teachers most often major in the subject they plan to teach, while also
taking a program of study in teacher preparation. Many 4-year colleges require
students to wait until their sophomore year before applying for admission to
teacher education programs. To maintain their accreditation, teacher education
programs are now required to include classes in the use of computers and other
technologies. Most programs require students to perform a student-teaching
internship. Teacher education programs are accredited by the National Council
for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the Teacher Education Accreditation
Council. Graduation from an accredited program is not necessary to become a
teacher, but it may make fulfilling licensure requirements easier.
Many States now offer professional development schools, which are
partnerships between universities and elementary or secondary schools.
Professional development schools merge theory with practice and allow the
student to experience a year of teaching firsthand, under professional guidance.
Students enter these 1-year programs after the completion of their bachelor's
Other qualifications. In addition to being
knowledgeable about the subjects they teach, teachers must have the ability to
communicate, inspire trust and confidence, and motivate students, as well as
understand the students' educational and emotional needs. Teachers must be able
to recognize and respond to individual and cultural differences in students and
employ different teaching methods that will result in higher student
achievement. They should be organized, dependable, patient, and creative.
Teachers also must be able to work cooperatively and communicate effectively
with other teachers, support staff, parents, and members of the community.
Private schools associated with religious institutions desire candidates who
share the values that are important to the institution.
Certification and advancement. In some
cases, teachers of kindergarten through high school may attain professional
certification in order to demonstrate competency beyond that required for a
license. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards offers a
voluntary national certification. All States recognize national certification,
and many States and school districts provide special benefits to teachers who
earn certification. Benefits typically include higher salaries and reimbursement
for continuing education and certification fees. In addition, many States allow
nationally certified teachers to carry a license from one State to another.
With further preparation, teachers may move into such positions as school
librarians, reading specialists, instructional coordinators, and guidance
counselors. Teachers may become administrators or supervisors. In some systems,
highly qualified experienced teachers can become senior or mentor teachers, with
higher pay and additional responsibilities. They guide and assist less
experienced teachers while keeping most of their own teaching responsibilities.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,
Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition
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Teacher Job Outlook
Teacher Training and Qualifications