Careers in Teaching

Education is one of the fastest growing fields in the United States, with teacher shortages reported in cities from coast to coast. If you love working with kids, use this page to learn more about careers in teaching. Find out what it takes to be a successful teacher and what your career options are. 

Teaching Career Information 

As the old saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. In schools that are responsible for hundreds, if not thousands of students, you don't just need a village; you need a large village! That's where teachers come in. 


Characteristics of a Good Teacher 

To be a successful teacher you need to be patient, flexible, and able to easily adapt. After all, kids of any age can be unpredictable, and messes and behavioral issues are bound to come up. If you get easily frustrated you may find it difficult to be a teacher, particularly for younger children. 

In addition, a love of learning is very important to be successful in your classroom. As a teacher you can expect to put in long hours to create lesson plans, tackle classroom tasks, offer individual help to your students, grade your students' work, and keep parents up to date on their children's progress. A passion for education and believing in what you do is crucial if you're going to survive the hard work and long hours. 

List of Careers in Education

  • Early childhood education: Early education teachers work with kids from infancy through kindergarten. You may work for a private school or center, public school district, or government-funded early intervention center. Typical job duties include tracking children's development needs, creating instruction to meet those needs, and planning activities that help children learn to play and socialize appropriately.
  • Elementary education: Depending on which state you are licensed in, you could teach grades kindergarten through sixth grade. In some states, elementary school teachers can teach up through eighth grade. At this level you focus on educational theory and development. Training covers all academic subjects, rather than focusing on one subject.
  • Secondary education: In some states secondary education includes middle school and high school. In other states, this just covers the high school years. Some of your courses look at how adolescents learn and develop. The others concentrate on your chosen academic subject.
  • Special education: Special education is growing quickly in the United States. More students are getting diagnosed with special needs at younger and younger ages thanks to better access to early intervention. As a special education instructor, you can help students of all ages. Some teachers work with standalone special education classes. Others work as aides with kids who need a bit of extra help in a mainstream classroom. Some teachers work with students of all needs, from mild to severe. In some districts, you may focus on emotional or learning disabilities and learn techniques for specific levels of impairment.
  • Leadership roles: An administration staff is critical in every school. As a vice principal or principal of a school, you work closely with teachers to ensure learning goals are being met. In this role, you talk to parents and families to provide support. Administrators also handle discipline needs.
  • Curriculum development: Large school districts and government agencies take on the creation of lesson plans and learning goals. This role often requires a Master's degree in curriculum and instruction. 

Best Subjects to Teach 

Teachers specialize in a specific grade level or, for older students, an area of study.

If you aren't teaching at the early education/elementary school level you will likely teach one particular area, such as English or math. To teach a particular subject, you usually will have an education major in that area of focus. For example, if you want to teach high school English you'll need an English education degree. 

If you aren't sure which subject you'd like to teach, consider focusing on the areas with the highest teacher shortages. According to a 2016 report by the Center for Public Education, this includes STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) subjects, special education, and bilingual teachers.  

Teaching Career Salary

Teaching salaries vary a lot based on location, certification, and experience. Keep in mind that salaries for teachers vary depending on the grade and subject you teach, your education level, and your experience. Below, we have broken down how much you can expect to earn, on average, as a teacher at different levels and specializations. 

How Much Does a Teacher Make in a Year?

In the list below, we provide the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on median salaries for teachers with the typical entry-level education needed to teach each level or subject. 

The states where you have the highest potential to earn the most money as a teacher include New York, Connecticut, Alaska, and California.