So you’ve taken a vow of poverty and selfless service, which led you to ask, “What can I do that will help others without making me rich, famous, or well-liked?”
If “Hey! I could be a high school teacher!” came to mind, then you’re on the right track. It takes someone very special to do so much work for so little pay, but you can probably do it.
THE UNOFFICIAL QUALIFICATIONS (What Makes A Good Teacher Great):
- Love for children. If you don’t love kids, or at least love helping them learn, then this isn’t the profession for you. Remember: you’ll be in a classroom with them from early morning until early afternoon, five days a week. You’ll also have to attend parent-teacher conferences, extracurricular activities (school plays, sporting events, and the like), and field phone calls or letters from parents who need to know what’s going on with Junior or Suzie.
If you don’t love kids (and learning!), then don’t do this job. Students, regardless of age or academic level, deserve to be taught by men and women who really and truly want to be there with them.
- Low-maintenance lifestyle. First-year high-school teachers can make as little as $20,000 a year – maybe even less, depending on where you live and how badly the district needs teachers. It helps if you’re married to a person with a good job: overall, though, the best thing is to not lust over mansions or luxury cars.
Now that most of you have leapt from your chair and have run screaming for the nearest emergency exit, the rest of you can get comfortable again.
THE OFFICIAL QUALIFICATIONS (What The Government Says You Have to Do)
- Bachelor’s degree. Some districts are giving emergency certification (and jobs, of course) to teachers without this level of education, but don’t count on it to last forever. The teacher shortage won’t last the rest of our lives – we hope.
- A certain number of credit hours in your specialty. If you want to teach English, check with your state to see how many hours worth of English classes you need to have when you graduate university. The laws differ, so be sure to check your regulations. Also: note that the regulations change from time to time. Be sure to keep yourself posted on any updates or changes.
- Teaching certification. This may not be vital to your career, but it certainly helps – especially when you’re still at the point of submitting your resume. Certification is usually earned while you’re earning your Bachelor’s.
If you teach high school, you will most likely minor in education and major in whatever subject you want to teach. In many cases, depending on your university and advisers, you can dual minor in something else that interests you. For example: if you want to teach English in high school, you can also minor in Creative Writing – which can help if you want to teach English Composition, but also if you just enjoy writing.
OTHER THINGS YOU NEED TO DO
- Work on your appearance. Not many districts will hire someone with twenty facial piercings, a “SATAN” tattoo on the forehead, and five different shades of hair. You have plenty of time to work on your image while you’re earning your degree.
- Keep yourself posted on changes in certification, requirements, and the job market. You can make nationwide contacts online to find out what states are most friendly to teachers like you. You can use the Internet to look up guidelines and requirements for every state, including your own. You can even get information on teacher’s incentives, such as loan-forgiveness programs.
- Have fun. That’s why you want to teach, right? To make a kid’s day … to fulfill your ambitions … to know that you’ve made a difference in the world.