It’s a thrilling experience to walk across the stage to receive your college diploma. However, graduating requires some major decision making. Where will you live? Where will you work? What job will you find the most fulfilling?
Related: Why Teaching Is Not A Back-Up Career
If you have decided that you want to become a teacher, then you can look forward to a satisfying teaching career enriching the lives of youth. But it’s not as simple as applying for any position that looks interesting and waiting to hear back from an administrator. The path to becoming a teacher is rigorous, and you need to meet specific state certification requirements as well as compete for your desirable position. Here are some tips to jump-start your teaching career:
1. Do Your Research
You need to choose what kind of teacher you would like to be, and the possibilities are enormous. Decide whether you are best suited for elementary, middle, or secondary levels. If you would prefer older students, decide what subject your undergraduate degree would best match (math, science, English, social studies, art, etc), this way you will not be spending thousands of dollars on an additional degree. If you have the opportunity, talk to working teachers to find out more about their day-to-day responsibilities.
You also need to consider where the opportunities are. Special education teachers, for example, are more in demand than social studies teachers. Some larger cities are more eager for teachers in every content area than others. To find out where the demand is, visit Teach.com, which hosts details on high-demand occupations and in-demand areas.
2. Understand Certification Requirements
Once you know what and where you want to teach, you need to meet the specific certification requirements of teachers in that locale. Each state has a unique combination of course requirements and tests required for certification. You may need to student-teach, if you have not done so already. Certification Map is a resource that offers descriptions of the requirements of each state, including links to each respective state’s department of education, where you can find the exact details.
3. Look Into Master’s Programs
Embarking on the path to your master’s degree will increase your pedagogical knowledge and make you more desirable to prospective employment opportunities. If you do not have a teaching certificate, there are many master’s programs that you can enroll in to obtain both your certification and degree simultaneously.
4. How To Find A Job
There are several organizations that specifically help new graduates procure teaching positions. Teach For America will help train you to become a teacher by embarking on a two-year commitment to work in an under-served area. Americorps offers stipends and some loan forgiveness programs for tutoring high-needs students. The National Center for Alternative Certification helps you find a program that would get you certified through nontraditional and more flexible routes.
If you have completed your certification program and hope to find a position locally, Edutopia offers some tips on obtaining the job of your dreams, like hand-delivering your application to the school that you are interested in. You can also check the local want ads and employment websites. Often, schools list their current openings on their websites, or you can contact human resources departments for details. Also, make sure that your resume, application, and professional portfolio are impeccable and error free.
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