Do you have a favorite teacher from your childhood? The one who inspired you to love art, music, or even to play kickball? Teachers impact students’ lives beyond the test outcomes and curriculum. 

Teachers are also responsible for guiding students toward success and confidence in life. For most teachers, seeing their students rise the ladder and achieve their full potential is the most fulfilling feeling about their careers.

To become a teacher, you must possess natural attributes such as patience, creativity and a passion to nurture students to be the best version of themselves.

You must also qualify academically with a bachelor’s degree and complete your state’s student-teacher program and other teacher requirements.

Today, we’ll look at the teaching degree requirements you need to become a teacher. Though the requirements vary in different states, this guide explores the courses and work environments the degree programs focus on.

teaching degree requirements to become a successful teacher.

Reasons to Become a Teacher

Teaching is an excellent way to pay your bills and earn a decent living. Besides, other enticing benefits might motivate you to choose a teaching career.

For instance:

  • A desire to make a positive impact on young people: Teaching allows you to shape the minds of students and make a meaningful difference in their lives.
  • A passion for a specific subject: If you have a deep understanding and passion for a specific subject, you may find satisfaction in sharing your knowledge with others. For instance, if you’re really good at music, you can become a music teacher or a PE teacher if you’re a fitness enthusiast.
  • Long, fulfilling and stable career: Teaching offers job security and endless room for advancement.
  • Many career options: Once you’ve become a teacher, you get a wide option of careers and levels. For instance, in early childhood, elementary, or even high school, where you can focus on your subjects of preference.
  • Flexibility: Teachers get their summers off coupled with long spring and winter breaks that allow them to have a healthy balance between work and personal life.

Required Teaching Skills

A successful teacher must possess a certain set of skills. Let’s look at some of these skills and how you can apply them in a classroom setting.


Good communication skills help you instruct and convey information to your students in a manner that’s appropriate and easy to understand. It helps create a positive learning environment that improves student engagement and participation.

Communication will also help you build trust with your students and relate well with fellow teachers. With great communication, you’ll quickly build a good relationship with parents, which will benefit the student.


Even though teaching can be a rewarding career, it can also present some challenges. For instance, students come with different abilities and personalities, and you’re expected to meet their learning needs equally.

Some may be indisciplined or uncooperative, and you’re still expected to instruct them positively and calmly to maintain a positive learning environment for everyone.

To be a great teacher, you must be patient and remain calm even when frustrated. Patience helps you become more understanding and empathetic when handling your studentsmotivating them to do better.


Having good organizational skills is essential to being a successful teacher. This will help you in successfully achieving your crucial responsibilities.

For example, good organizational skills will help keep your classroom environment clean and neatly arranged. This is aesthetically pleasing and helps students feel more comfortable and less anxious.

Good organization will also help you keep accurate student records which are essential in evaluating their progress.


Planning skills are crucial to performing your teaching duties effectively as a teacher. First, you must create lesson plans in a manner that helps improve students’ academic abilities without overwhelming them.

Being a good planner will also help you prepare tests and outdoor activities and schedule calls with parents efficiently.

Strong planning skills help portray you professionally and help build respect among students, parents, and colleagues.


Confidence helps you command their attention and sets you as a leader in front of your students. How else will you stand in front of students and engage and instruct them?

Being confident helps you set ground rules for the expected classroom behavior with ease. You’ll also be able to handle any unexpected situation calmly without losing your composure.

teaching degree options.

Teaching Degree Options

You can become a teacher by getting an Associate’s degree in education, a bachelor’s, master’s or even a doctoral degree. Let’s look at these requirement options in detail:

Associate’s Degree in Education

The Associate’s degree in education is a two-year undergraduate degree program that provides aspiring teachers with a solid knowledge base of the field of education. 

It’s designed for students who wish to pursue a career in teaching or related fields but don’t want to commit to a four-year program.

The curriculum for an associate degree in education includes courses in:

  • The practice of teaching- (pedagogy) which includes how to explain and demonstrate concepts.
  • Child development and psychology- which helps you understand the development of children and teens.
  • Special education- where you’ll do some coursework on the basics of special education.

Depending on the college, the program consists of a supervised teaching experience in a classroom setting. 

Graduates of this program may work as teachers in early childhood education, special education, or vocational education or become teachers’ aides. Students can also transfer their credits to a four-year program to earn a bachelor’s degree in education.

An associate’s degree in education is not enough for you to become a licensed teacher since a Bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement. But, you can use this as a stepping stone toward a bachelor’s degree in education or a related field.

Bachelor’s Degree in Education

A bachelor’s degree in education is the minimum requirement for licensure to teach in public schools.

The four-year undergraduate program provides students with a deep understanding of the education field.

The bachelor’s degree in education is designed for students who wish to pursue a career as a licensed teacher or in education-related careers such as education administration, curriculum development, or educational technology.

In the curriculum, students go through the following courses:

  • Pedagogy
  • Assessment
  • Social justice
  • Lesson planning
  • Special education 
  • Educational psychology
  • Curriculum development
  • Instructional technology
  • Educational policy and leadership

In most universities, the program also requires students to complete a student-teaching experience, which provides them with hands-on experience in a classroom setting.

A Bachelor’s degree in education can open many doors for graduates. For instance, it can lead to a career as a licensed teacher in elementary, middle, or high school. It can also lead to other opportunities, such as curriculum development, education administration, instructional coaching, educational technology, and policymaking. 

Note: Although a bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement for being a licensed teacher, many states have specific requirements before you become a licensed teacher. For example, passing a teacher certification exam. It’s important you check with your state board of education for such requirements.

Master’s Degree in Education

A master’s degree in education is a graduate-level degree that focuses on the theory and practice of teaching. It takes approximately two years to complete with online programs that offer flexibility to professional teachers who may want to advance their education.

The degree can prepare graduates for higher pay and promotions in roles such as teaching, school administration, curriculum development, and instructional design. 

The specific coursework for a master’s degree in education varies depending on the program and the student’s area of focus. The following are some common courses that may be included in a master’s degree in education:

  • Curriculum and instruction
  • Educational psychology
  • Educational research methods
  • Educational technology
  • Assessment and evaluation
  • Diversity and inclusion in education
  • Leadership in education
  • Special education
  • Early childhood education
  • Higher education administration

Besides setting you up for better pay, a master’s degree in education can bring opportunities such as eligibility for leadership roles within your school district and the ability to teach at the community college or university level.

Doctoral Degrees in Education

A Doctoral degree in education, also known as a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) or a Doctor of Philosophy in Education (Ph.D.) It’s a postgraduate degree considered the highest degree in education.

The main focus of the doctoral degree in education is to produce education researchers and scholars who can contribute to the advancement of the field of education through their research, publications, and teaching. 

This degree requires rigorous coursework, comprehensive exams, and the completion of a dissertation and takes 4–6 years to complete.

The curriculum of a doctoral degree in education includes courses such as:

  • Research methods and statistical analysis
  • Dissertation research and writing
  • Seminar in the chosen area of specialization
  • Advanced studies in educational theory, policy, and practice

Professionals pursuing a doctoral degree in education can specialize in areas such as:

  • Curriculum and instruction
  • Educational psychology
  • Educational leadership
  • Higher education administration
  • Special education
  • Early childhood education
  • Educational technology
  • Policy analysis and evaluation
  • Bilingual and multicultural education

Once you graduate with a doctoral degree in education, you can pursue a career in academia, research, policy-making, and leadership roles in education.

Degrees in Teaching Specialties

Some teaching degrees focus on one area of specialization. Others are designed for specific groups or ages of students.

Let’s look at some of these degrees.

English as a Second Language

The English as a second language (ESL) teaching degree prepares aspiring educators to teach English to non-native speakers. It may be offered at the undergraduate or graduate level.

The program includes coursework in language acquisition, teaching methods, and cultural studies. Graduates of the English as a second language teaching degree program may go on to teach in public or private schools, universities, language schools, or become private tutors. 

In some ESL programs, students may be required to complete certain student teaching hours where they gain hands-on experience by teaching students in a classroom.

Special Education

The special education teaching degree focuses on preparing aspiring educators to teach students with special needs such as mental, physical, or learning disabilities.

The program aims to equip teachers with the knowledge to help students with special needs get the same educational opportunities as non-disabled ones.

Aspiring teachers who pursue this program are taken through the following courses:

  • Special education laws and policies
  • Teaching methods and strategies
  • Assessment and evaluation of students with special needs. 

The degree program may also include fieldwork, student teaching, and practicums in some universities. This helps students gain real-life experience by teaching in special education classrooms.

Early Childhood Education

The early childhood education degree program focuses on preparing educators to teach young children up to age 8.

Students cover courses such as child development, teaching methods and strategies, and assessment and evaluation of young children. Graduates with an early childhood education degree can work in preschools and kindergartens.

Elementary Education

The elementary education degree program prepares individuals to teach children up to grade 6. In the program, students cover coursework in child development, teaching methods, curriculum design, and assessment.

Graduates are equipped with skills to create learning experiences that support children’s cognitive, physical, social, and emotional development.

Alternative Options for Teachers

If you have a bachelor’s degree in a noneducational field, you could still become a teacher in some schools.

For example, if you want to teach music and have a bachelor’s degree, you can go through the teacher preparation program and become a teacher in private and public schools.

Also, if you’ve taught abroad, you may qualify to teach in the United States if you meet your state’s department of education requirements. You may be required to provide evidence of having taught abroad, passing a background test, and other certification requirements. 

Certification Options for Teachers

Certification programs are designed to ensure that individuals who want to become teachers have the necessary skills and knowledge to educate students in a classroom effectively.

Depending on the state and the field you plan to teach, there are several options that take anywhere between 100 hours to a year or two to get the certification.

Common Teaching Exams

The following are the common teaching certifications that can help you become a successful teacher in your field.

  • Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL): The program provides training and qualifications for non-native English speakers who wish to teach English to speakers of other languages. It takes 100 to 120 hours to complete.
  • Education Certificate K–12: This program helps licensed teachers to expand their expertise and knowledge in curriculum models, instruction techniques, technology, and assessment.
  • Praxis: This is a written exam administered by the Educational testing service. It covers assessment in many subject areas, such as pedagogy and content knowledge. You must have this certificate to be a teacher in half the number of states.
  • National Board Certification: This is the most prestigious certification for teachers. The program focuses on recognizing and retaining accomplished teachers in the education program. Though it’s not mandatory, it guarantees teachers better pay.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Teacher?

It’ll take you 4–5 years to become a licensed teacher. This includes the time it takes you to get a bachelor’s degree in education or a related field and teacher education program.

Depending on the state-specific requirements, you may also need to get certifications which can take between a few months and a year.

The school or the state determines the degree requirements. They are based on factors such as demand and national standards for teacher education. 

Continuing Education

As a teacher, you should always aim for continuous improvement to help you stay current with the latest teaching methods, technologies, and educational research. 

You can take continuing education programs with other faculty from your school or district during the summer.

By continually improving your skills and knowledge, you can meet the needs of your students better and provide your students with a high-quality education. 

Continuous education can also lead to better job satisfaction and motivation and help you become more effective in your roles.

Salary Expectations

According to, the average public school teacher in the United States earns $55,873 but the range typically falls between $46,662 and $68,136.

Entry-level teachers can earn an average of $42,166 with a salary range between $35,215 and $51,421. Salary variations are determined by the state, certifications, additional skills, and years in the teaching profession.

Job Outlook

Based on projections by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of high school teachers is expected to grow by 5% from 2021 to 2031.

The employment of kindergarten and elementary teachers is expected to grow by 4 % during the same period.

This change means there will be more openings for teaching jobs caused by the need to replace retiring teachers and have smaller class sizes.

take the first step to become a successful teacher.

Take the First Step to Become a Successful Teacher 

As said, there are many options for degrees and specialties for aspiring teachers. If you work towards meeting all the requirements, you, too, can become a successful teacher.

You can start by evaluating your passions and weighing your options before deciding which degree to pursue.

If you want to impact young minds and have a long career while at it, take the step now and start the process today.