How to Become a Teacher


Teachers are the heart and soul of education; the position requires both experience and education in order to become state-certified (photo courtesy of susivinh on flickr).

In some instances, students in high school know they want to become a teacher and join organizations such as Future Educators of America or Teachers of Tomorrow. But, how does one become a teacher? And wouldn’t you like to know what duties are required of a teacher both in and out of the classroom? Before deciding to pursue a career as an educator, consider the following information to determine if the education industry is a good fit for you.


Teachers are responsible for managing a classroom of students, whether that be elementary age or adults, and instructing a specified curriculum. Elementary school teachers typically teach multiple subject areas- math, science, English, history- while secondary and career instructors focus on a single subject.

Required Education

Teachers are required to have a Bachelor’s degree at minimum. Some positions may require higher education, state-issued certifications, or licenses too, however. For more information on what your state requires, the University of Kentucky has developed an easy-to-use table that directs you to each state’s requirements.


Teachers with experience can become lead teachers or mentors within their school. By helping other teachers build their experience and improve their skills, lead teachers can also be selected for promotional opportunities or to represent the school at networking and local conferences.

Required Experience

Some employers require one to five years of experience before hiring a teacher full-time. Typically, teachers have the background to meet this requirement through substitute teaching and/or internship experiences.

Average Salary

The median annual wage of middle school career and technical education teachers in 2010 was $51,470. High school teachers were paid a little more, averaging $54,310 the same year.

Job Outlook

There is little to no change projected in the education industry between now and 2020. Fortunately, however, there are opportunities outside the public education sector, as teachers are also needed in private, career, and for-profit institutions.

Important Qualities

There are five important qualities often found in excellent instructors. While this list is obviously not all-inclusive, it probably helps to have some, or all, of these traits.

  • Communication skills: teachers not only need to collaborate with other instructors in the school, but they need to be able to effectively explain their lesson plans to their students.
  • Creativity: teachers must be able to develop interesting lesson plans to keep the students’ attention and address the various learning styles of each classroom participant.
  • Instructional skills: in the classroom, there is an obvious need for the ability to thoroughly explain material in a way students can understand it.
  • Organizational skills: teachers usually have more than one class per day; in elementary schools, there is more than one subject per day. This calls for a need to be able to organize material, lessons, and overall, their time.
  • Patience: working with various students, backgrounds, learning styles, learning abilities, etc. can be difficult. Because of this, teachers need to have patience in order to work with all students.  

Ashley Benson is a distance education professional with five years of experience in the for-profit sector. She has worked coast-to-coast within the United States as an academic advisor, an adjunct teaching assistant and, most recently, a campus Registrar. Through formal education and industry experience, Ashley practices staying informed on the current events and changes within higher education and the students involved.

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