How to Become A Teacher in the United States?

One of the most prestigious and respected careers is teaching. If you are thinking of becoming a teacher, then you need to follow certain criteria. What degree do you need to be a teacher? It is not just that you simply explore and apply. For applying, you need to consider some eligibility factors:

  • Minimum degree requirement
  • Licensing and
  • Certification

You must keep these in mind if applying as a teacher. You will get insights on how to become a teacher, requirements, and the best educational route guide. Consider the given steps if you dream of becoming a teacher in the future.

Becoming A Teacher in the U.S.

How to become a teacher

The following steps are given below:

1. Is Becoming A Teacher the Right Decision?

Many times, this question might have come to your mind. Teachers play a big role in the holistic development of a child. All you need to become a teacher is the correct personality, perception, and, most important, patience. You need to evaluate your strengths, weaknesses, talents, and opportunities (SWOT) before opting for a teaching career. Get tactful about the know-how of the educational degrees and certification required to become a teacher. To find the right choice, start by asking some of the most important questions yourself:

  • Do you have patience?
  • Are you passionate enough to aid others?
  • Are you a creative thinker?
  • Do you remain organized?
  • Do you possess strong communication skills?

Find answers to the above-stated questions. If it is “Yes”, then what are you waiting for? Grab the opportunity.

Assist A Teacher in a Nearby School

Get inspiration from a teacher by observing her in the classroom. Feel motivated and understand the duties and responsibilities of a teacher. Take guidance from experienced teachers. You might get opportunities to visit nearby schools and seek help from them to spend a day assisting a teacher. You can help them with their classroom chores as a volunteer. This can serve a dual purpose. Through shadowing, you can achieve greater learning experiences as a watchmaker.

How Long Does It Take to Become A Teacher?

It entirely depends on three factors:

  • Your experience, both educational and professional.
  • Subject or grade you prefer to teach and,
  • Your state teaching certification requirements.

Basically, above all, you must hold a graduate degree and a teaching license. Those who attend full-time school for a bachelor’s degree can become teachers as soon as possible as they have attained the certification process during schooling. The rest of them need around one to four years to complete the process. If a master’s degree is required, then two such years add on to complete the process.

2. Cross-check Your Teaching Interests

Evaluate and analyze teaching choices and interests. You should raise a question to yourself as to why you want to choose teaching as a career. Through this analysis, you will come to know about the subject matter, your grade choice, and the students’ preference for teaching.

To become a good teacher, you must understand the skills needed in the teaching phase. You should be patient enough to choose it as a career. Teachers should be compatible and quick in making decisions. They should know how to deal with situations if anything goes wrong or out of plan. They should always have plan B ready at times of contingencies.

One of the most necessary skills to become a good teacher is caring. They should be caring for all the students.

3. Available Teaching Degree Programs

What degree do you need to be a teacher?

After becoming aware of the vision, mission, and goals, the next step is to search for degree options. You need to identify a degree related to teaching and the areas to stress upon. If you make a wrong choice, it will consume your time and money both, as you will not be able to match your interest with the profession. Let’s get insights about various teaching degree options available:

Bachelor’s Degree in Education and Teaching

A bachelor’s degree and a teacher preparation program (TPP) are necessary to become a certified teacher at primary and secondary levels. The TPP program helps teachers meet the needs of distinct learners through various specialized learning materials.

Master’s Degree in Education and Teaching

A master’s degree is not required for various teaching positions. But, it may be required at a later phase. Pursuing a master’s degree would enhance your teaching skills, increase your pay scale, and open the doors to being an administrator.

Ph.D. in Education and Teaching

Ph.D. is required if you want to become a researcher. Its main aim is to prepare students in the fields of research, academia, and post-secondary level of teaching. Ph.D. helps to create innovative teachers who can create wonders in the field of education.

Becoming a teacher

Doctor of Education (EdD) Degree

A Doctor of Education degree helps apply practical knowledge in the teaching process as an administrator or policymaker.

Degrees in Early Childhood Education

Those who aim to teach pre-primary or kindergarten students need to have a degree in early childhood education. This degree helps the teachers to develop the minds of young ones through social and cognitive development. It trains them to refine the fine motor and gross motor skills of the young ones.

Degrees in Elementary Education

For the primary level, a degree in elementary education is a must.

Degrees in Secondary Education

A degree in secondary education is necessary if you want to teach middle and high school students. By obtaining this degree, teachers can focus on their expertise areas like science, English, and math.

Degrees in Physical Education

If you want to become a physical education teacher, you must hold a degree in physical education. If you are aiming to improve the physical well-being of the students, this is the right choice for you.

Degrees in Special Education

Some students need special care and guidance, and those special educators are trained to teach them. The curriculum for special children is prepared to keep in mind the needs of different learners. Those who are willing to become a special education teacher must possess a degree in special education.

4. Decide the Way to Learn Teaching

There are multiple resources and areas in the learning process. It depends on how you want to learn. For this, you need to choose the pace of learning and the methodology of delivering the content.

There are many campus-based and online teaching programs available. You can select according to your time flexibility, as many programs offer great flexibility according to place and time.

You might also get the benefit of part-time or full-time teaching programs. The greatest benefit of these programs is learning at your own pace.

5. Apply for A Teaching Degree

After deciding on the degree and teaching options, you must now explore schools providing the offer. Amongst multiple programs and schools, you can make a wise choice. But, it is not easy to choose the best one of all. To ease the process of choosing and ending all your worries, we have laid down some steps:

  • You should check whether the school is regionally accredited by the NCATE.
  • The state where you want to teach meets the licensing criteria or not.
  • Check whether the program provides time flexibility.
  • Check if you can afford tuition and related costs.
  • Is it possible that you will get selected?


Many online teaching programs do not ask for prerequisites. However, some states require one to pass an entrance exam like the SAT or ACT. Similarly, other states require the PRAXIS Core exam to be passed.


To complete the application for admission, students need to complete the following elements:

  • Application
  • Application fee
  • Evidence of completion of a GED or a high school diploma
  • High school transcript (if applicable)
  • SAT or ACT entrance exam scores
  • Personal statement
  • Letters of recommendation

How to be a teacher

6. Scholarships and Financial Aid

After deciding on your career and teaching-related programs and training, now it’s time to think about tuition. Explore the colleges that provide scholarships and financial aid.


Being an excellent student, you can avail of scholarships. Scholarships are not to be paid back. To avail of it, you need to be skillful, talented, and qualified for your application. You must explore both state and national-level scholarships.

The U.S. Department of Education offers TEACH grants to help students to become teachers. You might be wondering what a TEACH grant is. It is the Teacher Education Assistance program for college and higher education. It provides grants of up to $4,000 per year to US students who choose a teaching career to serve low-income group students. Students who receive this grant are obliged to teach for four years.

Even the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics gives a $10,000 scholarship to the students each year.

Financial Aid and Loans

You should also explore financial grants and aid. Almost every college has a financial department. You can seek help from the advisor of the department about availing of financial aid. To start the process, you need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Through this, you will become aware of the aids you are qualified for and their types. There are Pell Grants for undergraduates, and for graduates, there are Perkin loans, which are low-interest loans or PLUS loans.

7. Finish the Coursework and Student-teaching

Finishing your coursework while earning is not an easy process. It is because of multiple state criteria for obtaining a teaching license. There are various examples of coursework you need to do to get a license of teaching. These are:

  • Development in children
  • Oral and written communication
  • Introduction to psychology
  • Learning and Inclusion
  • Curriculum design


For earning a teaching degree and preparation program, the students should also avail of real-time teaching experience. They must know how to teach. Real-world teaching experience means teaching students under the guidance and close supervision of a senior teacher, a faculty member, or a student-teaching office. To start the student-teaching program, students must:

  • Be in the last year of the program.
  • Qualify for the necessary state-level exams like PRAXIS Core.
  • Attain a minimum GPA.
  • Approved by a faculty member or administrator.
  • Be a student in the teaching program for a minimum period.
  • Must not be of criminal background.
  • Qualify for a medical exam.

After meeting certain criteria, they must spend at least two semesters in the student-teaching program. In this phase, the student-teacher will receive feedback and face an evaluation process to assess teaching skills and capability.

8. Get a Teaching License

It is essential to obtain a teaching license. The requirements vary according to the state. But, to get a brief outlook, have a look at the given areas of getting licensed:

For licensing in your state, you must possess:

  • A bachelor’s degree.
  • Completed an accredited teaching program.
  • Pass a criminal background check.
  • Qualify for PRAXIS Core score and related assessments.

Licensing Reciprocity

This process implies that a teacher who has obtained a license in one state can teach in a different state. The objective is to attain the flow of teachers from one state to another easily. States that come under the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification or NASDTEC might have interstate agreements. For instance, if you have a certificate in one state and are willing to work in another state, you can do so under this agreement.

9. Adding Endorsements

After receiving the certificate in teaching, you will get the endorsements. For instance, the grades and the subjects you are qualified to teach. You can easily add endorsements after the certification process. For example, if you excel in English and Biology, you can get a secondary language and biology endorsement as a high school teacher.

Why Add More Endorsements?

Adding more endorsements will raise the chance of your getting hired. Many schools and districts will prefer you. There is a great demand for teachers who can fill multiple positions at times if needed. So, districts explore this kind more. Always remember to add your expertise areas and grades while adding endorsements.

How to teach students

10. Alternative Teacher Certification

There are various other pathways to earn alternative certification. It is spun around those candidates who have real-world teaching experience and a bachelor’s degree.

Teach for America

It is an organization for those who get hired to teach in the areas where students and schools need immediate care and attention in low-income poverty areas. It does not ask for previous teaching experience.

American Board

It is an alternative pathway that helps in preparing teachers in 12 states. It was initially known as the American Board for the Certification of Teacher Excellence. It includes professional as well as online study programs in recognized states. These states include:

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Florida
  • Idaho
  • Missouri
  • Mississippi
  • New Hampshire
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Utah

Other Alternative Programs

The other programs include The New Teacher Project by Michelle Rhee. It aims to recruit and train new teachers to work effectively in poverty-stricken areas.

Other programs are location-based. The program known as the Academy for Urban School Leadership trains new teachers to work effectively in low-performing schools in Chicago. They work the whole year under the guidance of a mentor.

11. Get Hired As A Teacher

Now, it’s time to get hired and apply as a teacher. As a new teacher, you might have less experience in the class, but you will get hired by the districts because of the low position according to the pay scale. Here are a few tips for you to explore jobs:

  • Find suitable and good references.
  • Always restrict your answers according to school in the interview process and stress your efforts for the students.
  • Gain lots of insights about the school you are applying for.
  • Remember that you have to make yourself compatible with the current teachers and not only the students.
  • If getting the opportunity to work as a substitute teacher, grab it, as it will open the doors for a permanent position by creating a great footstep of impression.

12. Continuing Education

It is the state requirement to get the teaching license renewed every year. But, in this process, the teachers have to show that they have completed professional education.

Continuing education is essential not only for renewing a license but also for enhancing skills and professional development. This development makes teachers eligible for various positions in administration and provides networking opportunities. Given below are five instances of continuing education:

  • Earn another degree, such as a master’s or doctorate, to get promoted to higher levels.
  • Attend educational workshops to enhance teaching skills and practices.
  • Join an educational professional organization that provides professional development opportunities.
  • Complete school district’s continuing education courses for teachers for renewing licenses.
  • Complete graduate coursework to get a high salary package, not only to renew your license.

These are the essential steps to look into if you want to become a teacher or choose a teaching professional as a valuable job.

How Much Do Teachers Make?

The teaching profession is vital for the economic growth, development, and survival of any country. The salary or the pay scale of a teacher depends on several factors:

  • Years of experience
  • Location
  • Type of schools (Private or Government funded)
  • Educational qualifications
  • Additional qualifications

It also depends on the grade you teach.

The salary structure of different grades is mentioned below:

Teaching Level Salary (Per Annum)
Kindergarten Teacher $48k to 70k
Elementary School Teacher $60k to 88k
Middle School Teacher $66k to 93k
High School Teacher $77k to 138k
Early Education and Special Education Teacher $33k to 53k
Middle School and Special Education $37k to 73k
High School and Special Education $61k to 83k



In the words of William Arthur, “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires”.

So, become an inspiration and a mentor, not only a good teacher. Try becoming a true teacher. As it is rightly said, once a teacher, always a teacher.

If you plan to become a teacher, this guide will motivate you toward your pathway and inspire you to become a true mentor. The steps mentioned above will help you find the correct pathway to becoming a teacher and guiding students ahead.

1 thought on “How to Become A Teacher in the United States?”

  1. That is a great article! I have a quick question. Is it possible to become a teacher in the US if I am a teacher in Europe (EU)? If yes, what are the steps?

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