So you’ve gone through years of college and are approaching the end, coming out of the experience as a shiny, sparkly credentialed teacher. Fantastic! Now, where do you find the jobs? Depending on where you live, where you’re willing to go and the grade levels you teach, the answer varies widely. While there are many different areas you can go hunt for jobs, you will find the most opportunities where there is the most population and enrollment growth.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects above-average employment growth for kindergarten and elementary school teachers from 2010 to 2020. This growth will be driven by declines in student–teacher ratios as well as increases in enrollment. The best opportunities to land a job should be in the South and West, where enrollment is expected to grow the fastest. Enrollment should hold steady in the Midwest, while declines are expected in the Northeast. Colleges often hold job fairs in the spring for the upcoming year, so be sure to hit these hard and go prepared to wow potential employers. Wear your best teacher gear and bring an updated resume and teaching portfolio.
Middle school teachers are a brave bunch who take on what some view as the scariest job of all: teaching kids who are either about to become teenagers or just passed that milestone. Because these teachers serve a middle ground between elementary and high school, they can bring unique skill sets to the teaching table. The BLS predicts that urban and rural schools – as opposed to suburban schools – in the West and South will have the highest rate of job openings for middle school teachers in coming years due to retiring teachers and rapidly growing enrollments. Job fairs are an option for finding jobs, as are teaching job boards such as Teach.org.
High school teachers prepare their students for college or the working world. Finding these jobs is a bit more challenging than the other grade levels. That's because teacher-to-student ratios are being increased at high schools, which means fewer teachers for more students. Like the other grades, the West and South will most likely have the most openings because of population and enrollment trends. The Northeast will be the most difficult region to find a job. Regardless of region, you'll have a better chance of landing a job in urban and rural school districts than in suburban school districts. To improve your chances of finding a high school job, you’ll have to work for it. Hit up principals at your student teaching assignments, network with other teaching professionals, pay attention to the job boards and attend every job fair you can.
Job Outlook and Compensation
The job outlook varies depending on the grade level you teach and your location. For kindergarten and elementary school teachers, the BLS anticipates 17% job growth from 2010 to 2020, which is above the average of 14 percent across all occupations. The pay isn’t too shabby either, with these teachers earning a median income of $51,380 a year as of 2010. Middle school teachers are also in demand, with the BLS showing job growth of 17% from 2010 to 2020 and a median wage of $51,960. High school teachers have a comparatively low projected growth rate of 7%, but the median salary is a bit higher at $53,230 a year.
Based in the Pacific Northwest, Arin Bodden started writing professionally in 2003. Her writing has been featured in "Northwest Boulevard" and "Mermaids." She received the Huston Medal in English in 2005. Bodden has a Master of Arts in English from Eastern Washington University. She currently teaches English composition and technical writing at the university level.