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Middle School Teacher Career Guide

A middle school teacher educates children in the sixth through eighth grade levels. The job of a middle school teacher varies depending upon the course he is teaching. Excellent communication skills, a love for teaching and a compassion for children are necessary to be a good middle school teacher. This guide provides further information on what middle school teachers do, how to become a middle school teacher, and middle school teacher salary and outlook.

Middle School Teacher Job Description

Middle school teachers typically specialize in teaching children in the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades. Since middle school is between elementary school and high school, middle school teachers review concepts learned in elementary school and build on those with more in-depth information, preparing students for the high school years ahead. Middle school teachers plan lessons, teach those lessons to a group of students in a classroom, assess students on their progress, and grade assignments.

Middle School Teacher Requirements And Common Tasks

Unlike teachers in elementary schools, teachers in middle schools normally focus on one or two specific subject such as math, English, social studies, science, art or physical education. Within these broader areas, a middle school teacher might instruct multiple courses. For example, a middle school teacher specializing in the subject area of science may teach courses in biology and natural science. Their responsibilities vary and include preparing courses, assigning lessons, grading homework and tests, creating classroom rules and meeting with parents to discuss student progress and behavior issues. They also may spend extra time with struggling students, often mentoring and tutoring them after hours. Although the middle school teacher commonly works in a classroom setting, he may work in other settings as well including outdoors, gymnasiums, the school library and a computer lab.

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How to Become a Middle School Teacher

How to become a middle school teacher varies depending upon the chosen field and specialty area. However, there are some general requirements for all persons pursuing a career in the teaching profession. First, every state requires a bachelor’s degree and a teaching certificate to become a middle school teacher. Some states also require a master’s degree before they begin teaching, and some states also require a minimum grade point average. The bachelor’s degree is typically earned in the target field and specialty area, and the master’s degree in the study of education. Teachers must also be licensed in the state where they are teaching. Licensing rules differ from state to state, but they typically include an exam that demonstrates the person’s skill and competency in teaching, as well as a period of fieldwork, or student teaching. These licenses are usually renewed annually. Private schools may or may not require a teaching certification.

Middle School Teacher Salary and Job Outlook

Most states have a great need and a multitude of jobs available for teachers. The salary of a teacher varies significantly, depending on such factors as experience, the school’s location, and the school itself. However, the median salary of a middle school teacher is $53,430.1 Location and specialty/subject have the largest impact on teacher salaries. Most school systems offer a benefit package in addition to salary, which may include medical, dental, and vision insurance coverage, as well as paid vacations. Teachers are able to increase their income through extra curriculum earnings such as sports and tutoring. They may also further their education and/or enter the administrative area of teaching.

Overall, the job outlook for middle school teachers is strong. Employment is expected to grow for middle school teachers by about 12 percent by 2022,1 due to enrollment growth and an improved student-to-teacher ratio (the number of students for each teacher in a school). Also by 2022, many teachers are expected to reach retirement age, subsequently opening up even more teaching positions for prospective teachers. Opportunities are expected to be more abundant in areas like the Southeast, and urban and rural areas. 1

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Helpful Skills and Experience

Organizational skills, excellent communication and presentation skills, and sound decision-making skills are important for prospective middle school teachers. Teachers should be calm, fair, and patient, and teachers will prior experience in teaching will stand out from others. Knowledge or certification in a specialty subject will make a teacher more desirable, particularly in the subject areas of math and science, which are seeing a shortage of teachers.

Additional Resources

Teach.org – Teach.org provides information on how to become a teacher, teaching jobs in your zip code, as well as scholarship and networking opportunities.

US Department of Education – This website provides information about dropout rates, K-12 reforms, the No Child Left Behind Act, and more.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Becoming a Middle School Teacher

Question: Do I need a teacher certification to teach middle school?

Answer: While certification requirements vary from state to state, public schools do require that middle school teachers be certified. Private schools may not require a state certification. You can check with your state Board of Education or college program for further information on certification requirements in your state.

Question: What types of courses do I take to become a middle school teacher?

Answer: The courses required will vary depending on the school, but most aspiring middle school teachers take courses in their chosen field of study, as well as courses in education, child psychology, and curriculum design and instruction. Talk to your school’s advisor or refer to your state Board of Education to find out what courses are required in your state.

References:
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/middle-school-teachers.htm