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Math Teacher Career Guide

A math teacher instructs students in the broad field of mathematics. This can include general math or any of the related courses of algebra, calculus, or geometry. This guide provides further information on what math teachers do, how to become a math teacher, and math teacher salary and outlook.

Math Teacher Job Description

Math teachers create lesson plans to instruct their students in general or specialized subject mathematics. They prepare math assignments, homework, and tests to impart knowledge and understanding. They also assess student’s progress and abilities throughout the school year. As math is part of the core curriculum, math teachers must keep up with changes in state guidelines and objectives for math learning to help students meet the established criteria. Math teachers commonly lead multiple classes throughout the day, with students learning different subjects at ability levels from beginner to advanced placement.

Math Teacher Requirements and Common Tasks

Becoming a math teacher requires a bachelor’s degree in mathematics or secondary education and completion of a teacher preparation program. Instructors also must earn state teacher certification through a traditional or alternative pathway. Math teachers may be required to supervise study halls, homerooms, extracurricular activities, or field trips. They may also provide academic and career advising to students. Most math teachers will participate in workshops and conferences to keep their own advanced math skills current. Teachers commonly also tutor struggling students.

Mathematics teachers should possess strong math skills and knowledge and be able to communicate math principles effectively to their students. Math teachers need patience and understanding in order to promote students’ critical thinking skills and ability to utilize math in everyday life. Math teachers’ jobs can be very rewarding as they play a vital role in encouraging intellectual development.

How to Become a Math Teacher

The two most common tracks to becoming a math teacher are earning a bachelor’s degree in mathematics supplemented by teacher preparation or earning a bachelor’s degree in education with a major in math. In either case, the minimum qualification of a bachelor’s degree to earn a license to teach in public schools must be met. Prospective teachers who have already earned an undergraduate degree in math may return to school to complete a teacher preparation program, which may also include a master’s degree, to earn their teaching certification.

The courses required depend on the grade level(s) that the prospective math teacher wishes to teach. Prospective educators looking to teach advanced math or math at the post-secondary level typically must earn at least a master’s degree in mathematics. Teachers at all levels should anticipate taking continuing education courses, including courses in math, in order to retain a high working knowledge of mathematical theory.

Math Teacher Salary and Job Outlook

Even in schools where teachers must instruct in more than one subject, math majors are in high demand. Elementary school teachers earn an average annual salary of $54,550.1 Middle school teachers earn an average annual salary of $55,860.2 At the high school level, teachers earn an average annual salary of $57,200.3 Teachers at all levels are expected to see job growth of 6% through 2024.1,2,3 Math teacher jobs are available for general and specialized instructors in both public and private schools. Elementary, middle, and high school math teachers can increase their annual salary potential by accruing experience and/or additional education.

Helpful Skills and Experience

Math teachers who pursue graduate credentials are typically considered to be more highly qualified and are thus more in demand in the current job market. Pursuing a master’s or doctoral degree or other graduate certificates can help math teachers hone their skills in mathematics and pedagogy and find additional career opportunities. Student teaching and tutoring experiences are also helpful to aspiring math teachers. In addition to strong mathematics knowledge, teachers of math should have the ability to translate mathematical knowledge to learners at all levels of understanding.

Additional Resources

Teacher Quote: “Making math engaging is all a matter of bringing as much clarity to the concepts and procedures as possible. Lots of that has to do with understanding what will bring students to the idea that, yes, they can get it wrong, but if they persist and keep trying, we can arrive at the correct solutions, no matter how many solutions there are.” -Jose Vilson, New York Math Teacher and TEDx Speaker

Math Teacher Interviews

See our career interviews for insights and advice on teaching math.

Interview with Scott Keltner, Kansas Teacher of the Year Nominee

Interview with Jose Vilson, New York Math Teacher and Co-Author of TEDx Speaker

Interview with Lorrie Quirk, President of the Associated Mathematics Teachers in Connecticut

Interview with Professor Joanne Becker, President of the California Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators

Interview with Catherine Martin, President of the Colorado Council of Teachers of Mathematics

See all Math Teacher Career Interviews

Math Education Teaching Degrees and Programs

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Frequently Asked Questions about Becoming a Math Teacher

Question: What are the high school math teacher requirements?

Answer: The requirements for being a teacher vary by state. As a general requirement, to be a high school math teacher you must have a college degree with a major or minor in math. You must also complete a teacher preparation program and pass a test for certification. In most states, you will also have to show competency in math by passing a subject area test.

Question: Can I earn a master teacher certification as a math teacher?

Answer: Master or professional teacher certification is not offered in all states. In states where it is offered, math teachers are candidates if they can demonstrate advanced knowledge of their subject area, the ability to lead students in successful learning, and three to five years of teaching experience. Earning this credential can lead to higher salaries and expanded career opportunities for math teachers.

Question: What are career prospects like for math teachers?

Answer: Math teachers are in demand at all grade levels, especially highly qualified math teachers who have completed a major or master’s degree in math. There are shortages of qualified math teachers in many areas of the US, providing career opportunities for prospective teachers who are willing to relocate. Math teachers willing to teach in urban or rural school districts may find additional opportunities.

References:
1. US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/kindergarten-and-elementary-school-teachers.htm
2. US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, Middle School Teachers: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/middle-school-teachers.htm
3. US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, High School Teachers https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/high-school-teachers.htm