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How to Become a Math Teacher

Mathematics is undeniably a broad field. In fact, it is currently divided into a selection of different subject areas such as algebra, calculus, trigonometry, and more. Math teachers are designated to help make the transition from grade level school to college much easier. They facilitate students in preparing for more advanced studies like engineering, science, and technology courses. Discover how to become a mathematics teacher below. Learn everything you need to know about degree options, career training, and licensing instructions to verify if this career is for you.

Career Information

Math teachers draft lesson plans to educate students ­in general or special math subjects. Homework, assignments, and tests are just some of the tools they use to convey information and knowledge and assess a student’s understanding and progress throughout the school year. Mathematics is part of students’ core curriculum; therefore, teachers are expected to keep up with the objectives and guidelines of the states to assist students in meeting specified criteria. Most mathematics teachers today are pretty flexible, instructing multiple classes and discussing varying math subjects ranging from beginner algebra to advanced math coursework.

Job Outlook

The future for teaching careers in math is extremely promising, especially now that there is an urgent need for hires in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) department.

Many job opportunities that await math enthusiasts are staggering; however, some states and subject areas have more urgent demands than others. For instance, Alabama (grades 6-12), Arizona, Arkansas, Kentucky (secondary and middle school), and Minnesota endured statewide shortage for math teachers during the school year of 2015-2016.

Math Teacher Shortage

In the future, schools are predicted to hire math education specialists where professionals will serve as a full-time math educator or coach for less-experienced elementary, middle school, and high school teachers. Given that you have complete, if not advanced credentials, there are loads of great opportunities that are yours for the taking.

Personal Qualities

A good math teacher needs to possess certain characteristics to become an efficient educator. One, they should have strong knowledge and skills in the subject of specialization. Two, they should know very well how to communicate to students using math principles, regardless if they are assigned to elementary, middle school, high school, or college students. Moreover, they need to have the patience and comprehension in order to achieve the goal of teaching effectively. These qualities help students in getting the mathematical knowledge they need for more advanced studies and everyday facets of life.

Math Teacher Responsibilities

The scope of a math teacher’s responsibilities varies depending on area of employment. In general, these are the tasks they are typically appointed to do:

  • Supervise home rooms and study halls
  • Guide students during field trips or other extracurricular activities
  • Assist students in choosing higher courses of study in college or high school
  • Help struggling students through tutorials before or after school hours
  • Partake in seminars and workshops to hone and update math skills
  • Instruct students to measure using various gauging tools
  • Help children to develop skills and analytical thinking for solving mathematical problems
  • Link mathematical principles to daily situations
  • Utilize various teaching aids and tools to reinforce mathematical concepts
  • Cooperate with other teachers to strengthen school’s core mission and values

Math Teacher Requirements

Aside from engaging in a teacher preparation program, these requirements should help you land your dream job in teaching:

  • Elementary School – A potential math teacher needs to earn an Elementary Education Degree from an accredited college or university. They also need to complete one or a couple of semester of supervised teaching. Additionally, they need to accomplish a certificate from your state of residence by completing all requirements such as documents, transcripts, exams, and mandatory payments. Teachers may also be required to take additional education to maintain state licensure.
  • Middle School – Teachers in middle school typically cover introductory math lessons such as algebra, ratios, geometry, data analysis, probability, and equations. Oftentimes, they are obliged to earn degree courses including Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics, or even a number of postsecondary mathematics courses. Potential teachers make an in-depth study in general and applied mathematics. Completion of education courses is also necessary so teachers will be able to demonstrate mathematical principles to middle school students.
  • High School – Unlike middle school teachers who are focusing mainly on teaching basic math concepts, high school math teachers are compelled to provide deeper instructions in the subject area. Such subjects may include algebra, calculus, and trigonometry – such lessons that are typically offered to senior high school students. High school math teachers are required to complete a Bachelor’s Degree in Education, a Secondary Education Degree, or a Master’s Degree in Education. 9th to 12th-grade level educators usually get specialization in geometry, trigonometry, algebra and other advanced math classes, ranging from 3-4 classes per school day.

 

Math Teacher Education Degree

The table below shows average education level math teachers obtain across the United States.

Degree LevelPreschool & KindergartenElementary SchoolHigh SchoolCollege (Math & Computer Courses)
Less than High School Diploma2%.2%.2%.2%
High School Diploma13.2%.3%.2%.2%
Some College23.8%2.9%2.3%2.6%
Associates Degree13.7%1.9%1.5%2.3%
Bachelor's Degree33.9%44.3%43.4%16%
Master's Degree12.7%46.5%48.3%43.3%
Doctorate.7%3.9%4%43.3%

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Generally, prospective teachers need to earn at least a bachelor’s degree in education. Today’s schools offer various programs specifically designed for math teachers. These consist of mathematical degrees and multiple levels of pedagogical study and arithmetic courses. Specialized alternative teacher certification programs such as those offered by Teachers of Tomorrow provide innovative preparation and professional support to future educators. Plus, all you need is a bachelor’s degree to become eligible to join in.

Most education programs include student teaching in high school or elementary schools as a requirement. Some schools allow potential teachers to select their desired level or age group for fieldwork at the final year of study. Most of the time, student math teachers can teach from grades 5-9 or 5-12.

For those seeking for advancement in teaching profession, earning a graduate certificate or master’s degree focusing on mathematics is a plus. If you’re planning to explore a teaching career at university level, earning a doctorate degree in math is a must. The degree should incorporate higher levels of math courses including trigonometry, logic, algebra, and so forth.

Coursework is a vital part of study for graduate degree holders. However, teacher aspirants dedicate a lot of time completing their thesis under the supervision of a class adviser.

Curriculum

Training programs for teachers typically involve introduction to education, child psychology, education psychology, classroom technology, education workshops, and student teaching for a minimum of 1 year.

Specialized math subjects include algebra, statistics, geometry, and probability. One or more of these are taken by potential teachers in order to qualify for teaching math subjects at elementary or high school students. These courses often cover basics of lesson planning and using technology as part of classroom education.

Steps to Become a Math Teacher

Jumpstart your teaching career in mathematics by completing the following steps:

    1. Earn a bachelor’s degree. Traditionally, a degree is provided by an accredited college or university. However, there are states that offer alternative programs for teachers willing to educate within a specific amount of time. This is a viable option for individuals seeking ways on how to become a math teacher without an education degree. Programs often consist of class participation and meetings with experienced teachers. Furthermore, they may also cover teaching instructions for mathematical concepts, special student groups, and general math education.
    2. Apply for a teaching certificate. The certification should come from the state where you plan to pursue a teaching career. In the US, state requirements are not always the same. In general, however, a candidate must pass the exams for basic skills and mathematics subject area. After securing a bachelor’s degree and state professional exams, you’ll be able to submit your teacher certification application.
    3. Demonstrate subject-matter skills in mathematics. Some state certifying bodies require this step in order to determine their teaching competency. To do this, candidates are required to ace a math teacher preparation program. Here, they must establish competency by passing mathematics-related exams. One of the main requirements for initial licensure is passing national exams, which can be one or more of the following:

National Evaluation Series (NES) Exam

      • Measurement and geometry
      • Statistics, probability, and discrete mathematics

Number sense and mathematical processes

      • Patterns, functions, and algebra

PRAXIS II Mathematics Exam

    • Functions
    • Algebra
    • Statistics and probability
    • Measurement and geometry
  1. Communicate with local schools and work as a substitute teacher. Filling up your portfolio is one of the best ways to set your “best foot forward”. Be aggressive, collaborate with other teachers, make yourself a member of the school faculty, and mingle with the rest of the school staff. By doing this, you are establishing a connection with the school and its workers. Thus, your name could be the first thing to come in their minds the next time a teaching post becomes available.
  2. Complete a Master’s Degree. Earning a Master of Arts for Teaching is an excellent choice for math bachelor degree holders and math teachers looking for additional education. Sometimes, undergraduates utilize a master’s degree to become a fully certified teacher. In some states, earning such degree is a requirement, even for experienced educators.
  3. Obtain teacher’s license. All states in the US require teachers to grab their own licenses. Standards vary from one location to another, but generally, all states require earning a bachelor’s degree, completion of teacher training program with mentored teaching, and passing the national exam prior to the licensing process. In some areas, teacher certification programs are available for individuals having a non-education degree. Joining in one allows you to start teaching in a classroom while working your way to get a teacher’s license. Most programs are accredited by the US Department of Education.
  4. Gain additional education. A number of US states require getting a master’s degree within a specific timeframe as the educator begins teaching. This applies to all school levels including elementary, middle school, high school, and postsecondary levels. Some of the best options you may want to consider are a Master’s Degree in Mathematics and Education, Master of Science in Mathematics Education, or a doctorate in Mathematics Education.

Math Teacher Salary Expectations

Table below shows current median salary of math teachers in major states in the US:


Salary Expectations per School Level

  • $55,000Elementary
  • $48,000Middle School
  • $46,000High School
  • $54,000Postsecondary

Source: Indeed.com

Factors Affecting Salary Increases for Math Teachers

Currently, minimum salaries of math teachers in the US are set according to state standards. However, actual salaries are applied as per school districts’ rate.

The highest possible salary for math teachers depend greatly on two important factors.

  • Highest degree earned – Some states require a master’s degree for maintaining an educator license. But for better chances of getting huge salary, earning a graduate degree is highly beneficial. For example: in Florida public schools, bachelor degree holders earn a minimum of $38,000. However, those with doctorate degree earn at least $44,000. Master degree holders often get $3,000 more compared to BA or BS graduates. Likewise, doctorate graduates earn $3,000 higher than master’s degree candidates.
  • Experience in teaching – Years in teaching play a major factor in determining teacher’s salary. In Texas, new teachers earn $27,540 and will increase after one year, clocking to $28,130. After 5 years in service, salary is expected to rise to at least $31,810, $37,340 in 10 years, and $41,490 in 15 years.
  • School’s geographical location and environment – Aside from years of experience and educational attainment, the school’s location and community impact teachers’ salaries. In fact, based on NCES Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) reports, suburban school teachers made $11,400 more than rural school teachers in school year of 2011-2012. Apparently, more developed areas tend to have higher salary standards compared to more laid-back communities in the US.

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