Let’s face it: if you want to become a teacher it’s because, during school, there was that one positive figure that inspired you to learn and excel. And why not? Teaching is an extremely rewarding, no-day-like-the-other job. But what are the studies you should pursue to become a teacher and what kind of teacher will you choose to be?
1. What native skills do I need to become a great teacher?
Before you rush and search for teaching and education study programmes, you need to ask yourself this question: Have I got what it takes to be a good teacher?
Well, the most gifted educators and professors have these native qualities: empathy, patience, interpersonal skills, flexibility, creativity, love for children, and the drive to share knowledge.
Does all this sound familiar? If you think you fit this portrait or you are willing to learn some of the skills that you currently don’t possess, congratulations! Teaching could actually suit you. The rest is up to you.
2. What type of education do I need to have a teaching degree?
Even if you met people who decided to become teachers in their mid-30’s and they eventually succeeded, ideally, you should make up your mind at the end of your high school years or at the end of your Bachelor degree, the latest.
Qualifications required to practice teaching depend on the country and the grade level you’d like to teach in (elementary school, high school, college or university).
- In the U.S., future teachers in primary and secondary school are required to have a Bachelor’s degree with a major or minor in Education. A Master’s degree in Education is usually required for high school and college teachers.
- In almost half of Europe, lower secondary education teachers are required to have a Master’s degree qualification, whereas, in the other half, a Bachelor’s degree is sufficient.
If you realize teaching is your vocation from an early stage, you can also directly enrol in special high schools in Europe, focused on pedagogy and education techniques and styles. In these high-schools, you can practice teaching, (but only in preschool and elementary school) and then, if you want, you can advance and follow a Bachelor’s degree.
3. Where do I start my education to become a teacher?
A Bachelor degree in Education will offer you the foundations of teaching and learning, how to manage assessment and teaching in classroom, and how to teach science and literature according to the age of pupils, among others.
Students who apply to a Bachelor’s in Education will understand the purpose of education and its role in society, will know how to develop effective, inclusive practices in teaching (reading, taking and arranging notes, group work and course evaluation).
Some popular study destinations for a Bachelor’s in Education are:
- Bachelors in Education in Canada
- Bachelors in Education in the Netherlands
- Bachelors in Education in the UK
- Bachelors in Education in Australia
After that, you can continue with a Master’s degree in Education which is sometimes required to be able teach in high school, and is extremely useful if you are interested in specializing in certain areas such as: childhood studies, educational sciences, educational leadership and management.
4. How can I improve my teaching skills after I graduate?
Once you get your degree in education and start teaching, you can always advance your skills and knowledge and keep things interesting for your students if you follow the concept of lifelong education, which is very popular in Denmark. Let’s call it a teacher’s upgrade. To do this you can pursue short courses such as learning about new theories and skills in teaching and pedagogy, or educational psychology.
5. Where to look for a teaching job?
In order to apply for a teaching job, you should first take into consideration factors like: location, type and size of the school, year group/stage, school performance and reputation. Remember that you don’t necessarily have to work in a school to practice teaching. You can take private teaching jobs, teach in children’s centres and NGOs. Average salaries in top destinations are:
- Teachers’ average pay in the UK: 20,200 - 41,500 GBP/year
- Teachers’ average pay in the US: 43,000 - 49,000 USD/year.
Can you practice teaching away from your home country?
The answer is yes. You can be a teacher in a different country, away from home, but the main requirement is to have previous experience in teaching. Other important conditions that will make you a valuable candidate are:
- a Bachelor’s degree in education
- a teaching license/certificate in the subject you plan to teach
- a language proficiency certificate
6. What does each level of teaching involve?
Before we live you, we thought we gave you an overview of what each level or type of teaching involves. Knowing this can help you make the best decision about what focus your degree in Education should have and what skills you need to develop:
You would have to use games, role playing, rhymes and other activities meant to help children understand and learn basic social skills. Since you will be surrounded by the ‘early explorers’, you’ll be like the great patient guide for them.
Elementary/primary school teacher
Your role will be to teach children how to write, read, spell, count, form sentences, express ideas and memorize stories. Just like in kindergarten, an elementary school teacher continues to be a guide for children in terms of helping them build strong social skills and social intelligence.
Secondary and high school teacher
In most schools worldwide, teachers give instruction in a specific subject area (mathematics, chemistry, sports etc.) based on a specific curriculum and according to each grade level. Studies in that specific subject area are also required. In high school you will also offer additional training for the final exams.
College professors teach specific subjects and their schedule can vary each day, depending sometimes, on their preferences or if they are also involved in research instruction. To become a college teacher, you typically need a PhD, in the subject area you are going to teach.
As a special education teacher, you would work with children, teenagers and young adults that suffer a certain disability. The teaching methods are based on an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) established together with parents, and social workers, psychologists and therapists – as they are all involved in this kind of education.
In special education, the crucial role of the teacher is to help kids and youth progress and reach the highest potential, with a lot of care and patience. For instance, if you choose to work with children with autism, you will be required to complete at least some special courses where you will learn the exact training techniques for autism.
An adult education teacher usually instructs adults that for some reason, didn’t succeed to complete their education or just want to extend their knowledge. Often, you would teach one subject area and you can find adult teaching jobs in various vocational centres.
For some, adult education may seem the easiest type of teaching, especially if you get to train people that are exactly your age. This situation gives you an advantage in terms of peer interaction, empathy and communication style.