Becoming a Teacher: How Much Education Do You Really Need?

Becoming a Teacher

Have you been bitten by the teaching bug? It takes a special type of person to be a good teacher. First, need a desire to work with youth, and second, you need an education. And sometimes, you need more than a bachelor’s degree to practice. Let’s take a look at what kind of education you need in order to become a teacher.

Public School Requirements

In the United States, individual states dictate who can and cannot become a teacher. However, in all states, in order to teacher in a public school, you have to complete at least a bachelor’s degree in education, which takes about four years. A bachelor’s degree will prepare you through classroom education, as well as give you the opportunity for hands-on learning as a student teacher, where you’ll actually get in the class room with real students. As part of your bachelor’s degree, you might also minor in a specific subject like history or math, which allows you to be better prepared for teaching at the secondary level.

It’s important to know that every state has different requirements for teachers, not to mention, at each grade level. Licensure, education, and continuing education are all part of the qualification package. By contacting your State Board of Education, you can find all the information you need about licensing in your state.

Also, make sure the school you choose will adequately prepare you to work as a teacher. Certification exams are often quite difficult and without the appropriate level of support and preparation, you will not be employable in this field.

Specific courses are often required in order to work in a classroom, some of which may include:

  • Curriculum planning and instruction
  • Educational leadership
  • Curriculum and technology
  • Instructional technology
  • Special education
  • Educational psychology

In addition to these classes, you’ll also need to complete grade-specific coursework. For example, if you want to teach third grade, you’ll be required to fulfill the requirements to work as an elementary school teacher. For those interested in teaching English at the secondary level, courses in writing, grammar, reading, and other subjects will be required.

Private and Religious Schools

In some cases, you might be able to work as a teacher with a bachelor’s degree in another area. This is possible if you work at a private or religious school. However, in many cases, non-public schools, especially public schools, standards for teachers are different.

Many schools require you to have at least a master’s degree in education or a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in your field of study. It all depends on where you live and the requirements established by your state. By contacting your State Board of Education, you can find out this information and plan accordingly.

Does Getting a Doctorate Make Sense?

Along with a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree, you can also earn a doctorate in education. But is this advanced degree really worth all the time you’ll spend in school, not to mention the money you’ll pay in tuition?

The short answer is: Yes, for some people. If you want to work in a leadership role, you need a doctorate to be considered for the position in many cases. Principals, vice principals, guidance counselors, curriculum directors, and other high-level educational roles demand a high-level of education. At some private schools, even head teachers need a doctorate degree to take on the role. The good news is that some schools will even help you pay for an advanced degree through tuition assistance programs, so you might be able to get a master’s degree or even a doctorate for free.

Online Education Degrees and Schools

Liberty University — Liberty University's School of Education offers an Associate degree and Doctor of Education, with all programs focusing on providing quality Christian education. Graduates are prepared to strengthen students mentally and spiritually, whether teaching in Christian or public schools.
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Kaplan University — Kaplan University's Master of Science in Education K-12 trains educators in curriculum design, classroom management, and instructional technology. The MA in grades 5-12 degree is a more specialized program that goes into depth on subjects covered in those grades. The MSHE in Education Assessment trains educators to create and evaluate tests.
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Capella University — Capella University's MS in Education and an MS in Online Learning programs are designed to train educators to improve their teaching methods in a variety of settings. Coursework includes Educational Leadership, Teacher Supervision and Evaluation, Learning Theory and Instructional Practice, and Assessment Strategies for the Virtual School Teacher.
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Grand Canyon University — Grand Canyon University offers a full complement of education degrees, including a BS in Special Ed, BS in Secondary Ed Business, BS in Secondary Ed English, and a BS in Secondary Ed Math. Programs are regionally accredited and approved in Arizona.
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Northcentral University — North Central University's Ed. D. in Educational Leadership offers fourteen specializations, including E-Learning, Global Training and Development, Instructional Leadership, Organizational Leadership, and Adult Learning and Workforce Education. The Educational Leadership Specialization prepares students for both the daily demands of leading schools and gives a base of historical and contemporary theories.
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