What Is the Best Degree Path for Becoming a Middle School Teacher?

Sixth- to eighth-grade is a tough age. As challenging as it can be to teach students on the cusp of adolescence – in or about to begin their early teens – it can also be rewarding. To become a middle school teacher, you must have the patience and communication skills to instruct children of this age and the resourcefulness to develop lessons that engage them in the subject area. You will also need a college degree.

An Education in Education

For prospective teachers, a degree in education is typically the best degree path. Middle school is an in-between stage, so aspiring teachers might not know what level of education to study. Often, college students who intend to teach at the middle school level major in elementary education, but may also pursue a second major in a content area, like science, history, mathematics or English. During their studies, aspiring teachers learn classroom management, teaching methods and child psychology. They complete a student-teaching experience where they gain real-world experience creating lesson plans, instructing a classroom full of students and evaluating classwork.

License and Certification

To become a middle school teacher in a public school, you will need to attain a license or certification in your state. Exactly what kind of certification you will need varies by state, as do the requirements to become certified. Some states recognize a separate certification for middle school teachers, while others group them in with elementary school certification or high school (secondary school) certification, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

An Alternate Route to a Teaching Career

If you already have a college degree but not one in the field of education, don’t give up hope. Every state gives aspiring teachers an alternate route option that allows them to attain the education credentials they need to seek certification, according to the BLS. You can complete courses in child development and teaching methods and, in some states, even earn a master’s degree. Depending on your state, you may be able to begin teaching under the guidance of a certified teacher while you complete your additional education courses, while in other states, you must complete the courses required for certification first.

Teacher is among the top 10 highest paying careers in education. Middle school teachers earn a median salary of $53,430 per year, according to the BLS. They often enjoy a work schedule that includes two months off during the summer as well as numerous holidays off during the 10-month school year. The BLS predicts job opportunities for middle school teachers to grow by 12 percent over 10 years, about as fast as the average increases across all occupations. Factors like summers off, the protection of being part of a union and the fulfilling nature of the work caused U.S. News & World Report to rank middle school teacher fifth among the Best Social Services Jobs and 45th on the publication’s 100 Best Jobs List.

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