Career Development

Teacher Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More

Teachers have a noble purpose: they help to shape the minds of tomorrow. They use their knowledge and experience to assist students in learning new information, developing new skills, and growing as individuals.

Teachers have a noble purpose: they help to shape the minds of tomorrow. They use their knowledge and experience to assist students in learning new information, developing new skills, and growing as individuals.

Teachers instruct students in various subjects ranging from math and science to art and foreign languages. While specific duties vary by subject matter, many teachers have a similar daily routine that includes meeting with students one-on-one or in small groups, leading class discussions, giving lectures, answering questions, grading assignments and tests, etc.

Read on to learn more about what it’s like to be a teacher and what it takes to become one yourself.

Teacher Job Duties

Teachers are responsible for a wide range of duties, including the following:

  • Developing lesson plans that align with district curriculum and student needs
  • Maintaining student records, including recording grades and keeping attendance records
  • Overseeing classroom activities such as grading assignments, preparing materials, monitoring activities, and leading discussions
  • Mentoring students who are having difficulty in class or struggle with school performance
  • Assessing student progress and preparing detailed reports for parents
  • Communicating with parents or guardians to discuss children’s progress and behavior
  • Teaching students in a classroom setting, or other setting as appropriate to the grade level or subject area

Teacher Salary & Outlook

The median annual wage for teachers is $62,364. The highest earners make over $95,000 per year. Those earning higher wages tend to work in public schools.

The number of teachers in the United States is expected to grow at an average rate over the next decade. This is due to the increase in the population and the growing need for education as a way to improve economic growth.

Teacher Job Requirements

The requirements for teachers include:

Education: Teachers must have a bachelor’s degree in the subject area they plan to teach. A master’s degree is also preferred by many employers. Many colleges and universities offer bachelor’s and master’s programs in education, but some employers may accept a degree in a relevant field.

Training: Teachers are required to complete a variety of training courses. Some of the most common training courses include: how to use online resources for learning, how to use technology in the classroom, how to manage a classroom and how to handle discipline issues. They must also complete an internship during which they receive on-the-job training from a teacher who is licensed in the state.

Certifications & Licenses: Teachers are required to hold a license in the state they plan to teach. They must renew their license regularly and complete professional development courses. 

Teacher Skills

Teachers must have the following skills:

Patience: Teachers need to be patient and calm, especially when dealing with unruly students.

Interpersonal skills: Teachers must have excellent interpersonal skills in order to work well with colleagues, parents, and other school staff members.

Analytical skills: Teachers must be able to break down complex concepts into simpler ideas that can be understood by their students.

Leadership skills: Teachers must be able to gain and keep the attention of students in a band, orchestra, or classroom.

Communication skills: Teachers need strong communication skills so they can communicate effectively with their colleagues, administrators, and parents. They also need excellent oral and written communication skills so they can write detailed lesson plans and evaluations of student progress.

Problem-solving skills: Teachers must be able to solve problems both on the spot and before they arise. This includes knowing how to effectively discipline students when necessary.

Teacher Work Environment

Teachers spend most of their time in classrooms, but they must also meet with students and parents in offices, laboratories, or libraries. They may also attend meetings with administrators or other teachers. They spend much of their day talking to students and other teachers. This can be tiring. Teachers are also vulnerable to mental stress due to the pressure of teaching students and trying to meet their academic needs.

Teachers often have additional duties outside of the classroom. They must often perform administrative tasks, such as maintaining student records and planning special events. Some teachers have other jobs on campus, such as coaching sports teams or being a librarian.

Teacher Career Path

Getting Started

Most teachers begin their careers as assistants, then move to a position as a lead teacher, a position that entails a great deal of responsibility. Lead teachers help manage the classroom and assign homework and grades. New teachers usually spend a lot of time training, getting acquainted with students, and learning lesson plans. In the first two years, they often work longer hours than they expect. The career is not as high-stress as many other professions, but the salary is very low for those just starting out.

Five Years Out

In five years, teachers have been promoted to full-time positions with significant responsibility for running a classroom or teaching a class. Although there are small increases in salary, teachers now have benefits and usually receive summer vacations as well. Some teachers remain content in their positions; others may go on to pursue master’s degrees or doctorates in education.

Ten Years Out

Teachers who remain in the profession continue to take on greater responsibilities; most are tenured and teaching classes or managing departments of younger teachers or administrators by the tenth year. Ten-year veterans may choose to become assistant principals or move into related fields such as college teaching or business consulting. For most people, though, this level of achievement is not necessary; satisfaction comes from having developed new skills and having developed new people—students who can make good use of what they’ve learned.

Teacher Trends

Here are three trends influencing how teachers work. Teachers will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

Student-Centered Teaching

Student-centered teaching involves a focus on the student as a whole person, with teachers recognizing the emotional and social needs of their students as well as their academic ones.

In this model, learning is more dynamic and less traditional, as the teacher uses a variety of strategies to reach all types of learners and give each student what they need to succeed.

Educational Technology

Technology is becoming increasingly prevalent in the classroom, both in its use and importance to educators.

The increasing reliance on technology for learning comes with several benefits, including more personalized learning experiences for students, increased opportunities for collaboration and creative thinking, and more real-world applications of skills learned in the classroom. 

Increased Importance of Collaborative Learning

Collaborative learning takes many forms, but is generally characterized by group work and cooperative teaching, which can be more engaging and effective than traditional methods of instruction.

In addition, cooperative learning can help students establish a sense of community with their peers, which can reduce bullying and teach social skills that are essential for success.

How to Become a Teacher

1. Planning Your Career

If you’re thinking about a career as a teacher, it’s important to think about what kind of teaching style works best for you and what age group you prefer. Some teachers work well with individual students, while others may prefer to lecture in front of large classes. There are many different types of education degrees available, from elementary school to post-secondary. 

The age of your students will be an important factor to consider when choosing a teaching career. Elementary school teachers spend most of their time planning lessons and grading assignments. By contrast, high school teachers may find themselves supervising extracurricular activities or leading class discussions. If you’re still unsure where you fit in, consider volunteering in some capacity at a local school to see if this line of work is right for you.

2. Writing a Resume

The best resumes for teachers should emphasize their ability to connect with students and inspire them to learn. You should highlight your experience and skill in the subject areas you specialize in and provide examples of projects you’ve completed that show your creative thinking.

It’s critical that you include any degrees and teaching certifications you have earned. In addition to listing these details, explain how they help you be a better teacher. It’s also useful to list any leadership experience you have, such as being a club director or team captain if they relate to the position you’re applying for. If possible, talk about instances where you have been able to improve learning outcomes in a measurable way. This shows that your passion for teaching is not just theoretical but can be applied in a practical way in real-life scenarios. 

3. Applying for Jobs

If you’re looking to become a teacher, make sure you join professional organizations like the National Education Association or The American Federation of Teachers. Search for jobs on sites like Indeed and CareerBuilder, and if you see one that interests you, reach out to the employer directly. If possible, visit the school in person and speak with the hiring manager about the job.

You should also start getting in touch with people in the education field such as mentors, school faculty, university professors, and so on. Tell them about your plans to become a teacher and see if they know of any opportunities you can apply for. It’s always best to get the ball rolling on your own rather than waiting for someone to come to you.

4. Ace the Interview

When you interview for a teaching position, be ready to discuss your qualifications and how they relate to the needs of the school. Teachers are judged by their effectiveness in the classroom. That means you need to be well prepared with lesson plans and activities, so you can demonstrate your expertise.

The interviewer will also want to know if you have an idea of how to improve the curriculum or school system as well as show that you’re passionate about education. Your answers should focus on what you know about the school, students, community, etc.

Be sure to highlight your ability to communicate effectively with students and teachers as well as your classroom management skills. Display knowledge of current technology in education, such as interactive whiteboards and tablets, so you can make an impact on the classroom experience. Also, mention whether you’re willing to help create or revise learning goals for students based on their interests or needs.


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