How to Become a teacher

How to Become a Teacher

5 Things you need to become a Teacher

  • A Bachelors' degree in Education or in the subject you will teach.
  • Completion of a student teaching requirement.
  • Pass the required state Praxis core and Praxis subject licensing
  • Pass the background check required by your state.
  • Obtain and maintain state certification.

All public schools and many private schools require teachers to be licensed in the state in which they teach. Steps for obtaining and maintaining a license vary by state, grade level of the students being taught, and the subject being taught.

How long does it take to become a Teacher?

You could become a teacher in as few as 4 years if you perform your student teaching while you are still in an undergraduate program and pass all required state license exams. It will take longer if your major is not in education. In that case, you may need to spend additional time completing additional teaching prep courses and complete student teaching after graduation.

What education, certification or license is required to be Teacher?

  • Earn an undergraduate degree. Prospective elementary school teachers are expected to major in Elementary Education. High schools and middle schools often prefer that teachers major in their chosen subject, for example, English or Math, and complete a teacher preparation program. It is recommended that aspiring teachers select a college or university with a teacher certification program that has been accredited by that state''s Board of Education. There are also a variety of specialty degrees available for teachers that wish to focus in a specific area, including Early Childhood Education, Special Education, and Physical Education.
  • Complete the student teaching requirement. Prospective teachers must spend time teaching in a classroom under the supervision of a licensed teacher before they can sit for a state licensing exam. The required number of hours varies by state but is typically one semester or 15 weeks. The student-teaching requirement can be completed during college or after graduation.
  • Pass the required state licensing exams. Almost every state requires aspiring teachers to pass a series of Praxis exams, but these requirements vary by state. Broadly speaking, there are four series of exams that may be required, starting with the Praxis Core tests. The Core tests measure academic skills in reading, writing, and mathematics deemed to be essential for all teachers, no matter what content area or grade-level they teach. Many colleges use the Praxis Core as an entrance exam that students must pass before enrolling in a teacher preparation program.
    After prospective teachers complete their course work and student-teaching requirements, they will sit for a series of Praxis Subject Assessment exams. The specific exams will depend on the teacher's chosen field. For example, a teacher applying for certification as a secondary mathematics teacher would take the Praxis Subject Assessment in Mathematics for Grades 7 -12. Finally, many states will require that prospective elementary school teachers pass the Praxis Content Knowledge for Teaching (CKT) test; teachers that aspire to teach grades 7 – 12 may need to pass the Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching test.
  • Apply for and maintain state certification. After earning their degrees, completing their student-teaching requirements, and passing the required state exams, candidates need to apply to their state's Department of Education for a teaching certificate. The application process requires that teachers be fingerprinted and pass a criminal background check. State fees vary but are usually under $200. Typically, the certificate is only valid for a few years and renewals require the completion of continuing education coursework and/or graduate-level courses.
    Requirements for obtaining and renewing a teaching license vary by state and aspiring teachers should carefully research the requirements of the state in which the play to teach. In Massachusetts, for example, the initial license is good for ten years. After ten years, teachers are required to obtain a professional license by completing an approved master's degree program, earning NBPTS certification, or completing a post-graduate 12 credit program in their specialty. More information on individual state requirements can be found in the Teaching Certification and Education Online Guide.

What Do Teachers Do?

Teachers develop classroom curricula, prepare lesson plans and instruct students in a wide variety of subjects. A teacher's job can vary quite a bit based on the subject being taught and the level/age of the student. Teaching can be a fulfilling career for people who enjoy interacting with others and imparting knowledge.

What are the top skills of successful Teachers?

  • Planning and Organization-create good lesson plans that cover all required curriculum within the school year.
  • Classroom management- techniques that keep your environment positive and behavioral issues in control.
  • Communication- use effective methods to communicate with parents, students, administration, and colleagues.
  • Patience and perseverance- work with students at different levels and with different learning styles.
  • Listening- how to listen to students and parents with an open mind.
  • Teamwork- to work with and learn from other educators and school administrators and to be a role model for students.

What does a teacher earn on average?

Salary range for a Teacher
$50,964 to $67,325
  • View Average Salary for United States
  • Teachers' salaries vary based on experience, teaching specialty, location and the school system or district. Look here for teacher salary information:
  • Adjust salary by state

Are there many job opportunities available for teachers?

There is always a need for good teachers. As teachers approach retirement age, positions need to be filled with new teachers. Explore job openings for teachers here.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a teacher?


  • Summers off to relax, travel, or pursue other interests is one of the biggest advantages.
  • Periodic week-long school breaks during holidays.
  • Generally, very generous benefits.
  • Satisfaction from watching your students learn and apply their newfound knowledge.
  • Being part of a close community of colleagues.

Some disadvantages are

  • Limited resources in some school systems could make you spend your own money for needed classroom supplies.
  • Focus on standardized testing limits available time for the fun or creative classwork.
  • Having to perform non-teaching duties, like playground, bus stop or cafeteria monitoring.
  • Teacher burnout

Why Become a Teacher?

Most teachers derive job satisfaction from watching their students learn and apply their newfound knowledge. Teachers can impact a student's life in a positive and lasting manner. If you like to help others to learn new things, teaching is for you! Teachers often receive generous employee benefits and usually enjoy summers off. Finally, the overall employment outlook for teachers is stable, with employment projected to grow 3 – 4 percent from 2018 to 2028.