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Teaching Jobs: How Much They Pay and How to Get Them

Teaching has been an important profession for thousands of years. The Greeks had a semblance of formal education dating back to at least 2,500 years ago and the Chinese scholar Confucius, who lived from 551 to 479 BC, is said by some to have been the first private teacher.

Today, there are millions of teachers around the world working in a wide range of schools and institutions. Usually teachers take jobs in their home countries in areas they are familiar with or studied in. In order to get a teaching job, there are a number of legal requirements that must be satisfied and they can vary by state, school district, country and so forth.

How would I get a teaching job near me?

You can find a local school district’s website and browse the open positions and then apply online. You can also inquire amongst the members of your professional network if they have any inside knowledge about the school or schools you are targeting or if they have any contacts there. Any internal knowledge you could gain will help you decide if you want to work in that school.

The more you know about the school administration, student body, funding, local community, politics, and classroom sizes the better decisions you can make about how to proceed.

It’s a mistake to do no research and blindly apply for a teaching job because schools have to be very careful about who they hire. If you don’t know anything about your new potential employer you may get screened out after the first interview.

There are also teacher placement programs like Teach for America that help get interested individuals get situated into teaching jobs.

Do you have a state teaching credential or are you earning one?

All states require public school teachers to have at least a bachelor’s degree and a teaching credential. Background checks and some degree of teaching preparation are other requirements, as are continuing education and licensing renewals.

Private schools may have very similar requirements, though there may be some variance. You can contact them and get that information or look on their websites for it too.

Some teaching jobs might require an advanced degree like a Master’s in Teaching English as a Second Language. 

How much are teacher salaries?

In the US, teacher salaries typically range from $30,000 on the very low end and up to around $80,000 at the high point. High school teachers make the most, and preschool and kindergarten teachers make the least. The pay discrepancy results from the fact that high school teachers are preparing young adults for college and university education or in some cases for vocations like construction, carpentry, welding and so on.

While $80,000 may seem like a lot, in the country of Luxembourg the salary for a well-seasoned teacher can reach over $120,000 and for a starting teacher it is about $70,000. In Germany, an experienced high school teacher can make over $90,000. In Asia, teacher salaries are quite a bit less than in Europe and even lower in the US. (However, in Asia and Europe teachers are more respected by students and parents.)

What are common teaching roles?

  • Teacher
  • Teacher Assistant
  • Tutor
  • Student teacher

What skills are used in teaching jobs?

Active listening
Adapting instruction for special needs students
Capturing and holding student attention
Cross-cultural communication
Research
Classroom management
Lesson plan creation
Creativity
Grading lessons
Disciplining
Explaining ideas, concepts and instructions effectively
Using new technology
Presenting
Tailoring lessons

What kind of teaching jobs are there?

Elementary school teacher
Middle school or junior high school teacher
High school teacher
Special education teacher
Preschool teacher
Montessori teacher
Teaching Assistant
Substitute teacher

Coaches often also teach some classes like Physical Education, Driver’s Education or even academic subject matter like history or accounting. In some cases, high school coaches might double as substitute teachers,  college placement or career advisors.

How many teaching jobs are there in the US?

About 3.6 million, and it has been projected that the number of teaching jobs will increase slightly until 2026.

How many are there in Europe?

Well over 5 million teachers were employed in European countries in a single year.

How many are there in China?

About 15 million, with approximately 260 million students.

Globally, there may be a teacher shortage. One goal that has been put forth for the educational industry around the world is to have universal primary and secondary education by the year 2030. Nearly 70 million more teachers may need to be added to schools around the world to achieve this important goal.

How do you prepare for a teaching job interview?

As with many job applications, there can be very stiff competition so it will your chances to try to stand out. Two ways to do this are to do careful research about the school you are applying to so in the interview you can impress the interviewers. Some candidates don’t do their homework, so they miss an opportunity to display their sincerity and work ethic. Candidates who put in the extra time and effort before the interview will be better prepared and be more memorable, which improves the probability of being hired. 

Another way you can stand out is by doing your research with the goal of finding the ways your background, interests and goals overlap with your potential employer. The more familiar you appear to the interviewers the better they will relate to  you. Additionally, the more research you do not only will help you answer interview questions better, you will be able to ask more relevant questions.

What are common interview questions?

The following questions are general and not an exhaustive list. They are meant to be examples and you can find your own as well.

Tell us about yourself.

This instruction, especially if it is the first comment made by an interviewer, can be a difficult one to answer because some people are not that comfortable talking about themselves. Some of us believe we shouldn’t talk about ourselves at length because it appears too self-centered or immodest.

In a job interview, you are being evaluated, so it’s acceptable to talk about your professional history and interests. It wouldn’t help your cause to launch into talking about your personal life though. One aspect of yourself to highlight is your passion for teaching because it’s important to care about your students and helping them to learn. Other professions might not require such a personal passion but teaching does.

What is your approach to teaching or philosophy?
How do you approach lesson planning?
What do you most like about teaching and least like?
How do you support your students for success?
How do you identify top and low performers?
What kind of problems have you had in the classroom and how did you handle them?
How do you incorporate technology in the classroom?
How do you keep learning about teaching?
Do you enjoy collaborating with other teachers?
What subjects do you enjoy teaching most?
What are your accomplishments?
What are you proud of in your teaching career?
What are your insights about teaching your particular subjects?

To practice answering questions, have a friend or relative ask you questions so you get in the habit of answering them. To generate the list of questions, you might ask your teacher friends what questions they had in their interviews or go online and do this research. It might be a pain to do this extra work, but it will help you stand out from the other applicants. Interviewing for jobs is competitive so you will want to be well prepared.

Where else can I get a teaching job?

Teaching jobs are not limited to working in schools with your own country. Every year, people move abroad to teach their native languages to non-natives.

If your first language is English, you can apply for teaching jobs in Vietnam, South Korea, Japan, 

India, Singapore, China, Taiwan, or Cambodia. (There are also some English teaching jobs in other countries, but English teachers tend to be more in demand in Asia.)

For this reason, some American college and university students graduate in the US and head to an Asian country to teach English as their first job after school. It’s also somewhat common for American adults who are 50 or older who want a career change to teach English in Asia for a year so they can live abroad and experience different cultures.

Not all teaching jobs are in classrooms. It is possible to do tutoring remotely where the instruction is conducted through the Internet. For example, some Americans teach English to Chinese children online, and never travel to China.

How do I know if I want to become a teacher?

Teachers are often passionate about education and helping others learn. They also have strong interests in particular subjects like science, language arts, theater, math and so forth. In some cases, they were inspired to go into education by a teacher or two they had while they were in school who was supportive or believed in them. Some teachers also had parents or other family members who were involved in education and wanted to be like them.

None of these experiences are hard requirements for becoming a teacher. There are some college and university students who had simply had the self-awareness to know they wanted to help students learn. Others may have been aware that there are millions and millions of people, including adults, who can’t read or have low-literacy and they wanted to help solve this very serious problem.

If you are unsure about becoming a teacher you could try private tutoring with just one student at a time for a couple of months and evaluate those experiences. You could also try to contact some of your favorite former teachers and ask them how they know they wanted to become teachers and what advice they might. If you have family members or friends, they can also be good resources for helping you figure you out.

If you are interested, there are also programs like AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps that sometimes need volunteers who want to teach. So, at least you could get some experience and earn a stipend.

Another option is to try some tutoring online. All the instruction takes place via computers and the Internet.

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