How to Become a Middle School Teacher
Middle school teachers need good communications skills in order to discuss students’ needs with parents and administrators.
Middle school teachers typically must have a bachelor’s degree. In addition, public school teachers must have a state-issued certification or license.
All states require public middle school teachers to have at least a bachelor’s degree. Many states require middle school teachers to major in a content area, such as math or science. Other states require middle school teachers to major in elementary education.
Middle school teachers typically enroll in their college’s teacher education program, which instructs them on presenting information to students of different abilities and backgrounds. Programs typically include a student-teaching program, in which they work with a mentor teacher and get experience teaching students in a classroom setting. For information about teacher preparation programs in your state, visit Teach.org.
Some states require middle school teachers to earn a master’s degree after receiving their teaching certification and obtaining a job.
Teachers in private schools do not need to meet state requirements. However, private schools typically seek middle school teachers who have a bachelor’s degree and a major in elementary education or a content area.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
All states require teachers in public schools to be licensed or certified in the specific grade level that they will teach. Those who teach in private schools typically do not need a license. Requirements for certification or licensure vary by state but generally involve the following:
- A bachelor’s degree with a minimum grade point average
- Completion of a student-teaching program
- Passing a background check
- Passing a general teaching certification test, as well as a test that demonstrates their knowledge of the subject they will teach.
For information about certification requirements in your state, visit Teach.org. Teachers are often required to complete professional development classes to keep their license or certification. Some states require teachers to complete a master’s degree after receiving their certification and obtaining a job.
All states offer an alternative route to certification or licensure for people who already have a bachelor’s degree but lack the education courses required for certification. Some alternative certification programs allow candidates to begin teaching immediately under the supervision of an experienced teacher. These programs cover teaching methods and child development. After they complete the program, candidates are awarded full certification. Other programs require students to take classes in education before they can teach.
Communication skills. Teachers must share ideas with their students, other teachers, and school administrators and staff. In addition, they need to discuss student progress with parents.
Patience. Middle school teachers must stay calm in challenging situations, such as when students struggle with material or create disturbances in class.
Physical stamina. Working with middle school students can be tiring. Teachers need to keep up with the students physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Resourcefulness. Middle school teachers need to get students engaged in learning and adapt lessons to each student’s needs.
Experienced teachers may advance to serve as mentors to new teachers; they may also become lead teachers. In these positions, they help less experienced teachers to improve teaching skills.
With additional education or certification, teachers may become school counselors, school librarians, or instructional coordinators. Some become assistant principals or principals, both of which generally require additional education in education administration or leadership. For more information, see the profiles on school and career counselors, librarians, instructional coordinators, and elementary, middle, and high school principals.