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 most common track to becoming a math teacher is earning a bachelor’s degree in mathematics that includes a state-approved teacher preparation program. Students will typically take two years of general education courses as well as lower-level math courses prior to applying to the teacher preparation program in the junior year of study. Students will then take advanced math courses along with teacher education courses. The common steps to becoming a math teacher are as follows:
- Earn a bachelor’s degree in math that includes a state-approved teacher preparation program.
- Complete a student teaching internship in math at the grade level(s) where you wish to become certified.
- Pass your state’s required tests for teachers.
- Apply for your teaching credential.
- Begin applying to open math teacher positions.
Prospective teachers who have already earned an undergraduate degree in math but did not complete a teacher preparation program may be eligible for certification through an alternative route to teacher licensing, which may also include a master’s degree program. Prospective educators looking to teach advanced math, such as calculus, or math at the post-secondary level typically must earn at least a master’s degree in mathematics. Math 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 school districts where teachers must instruct in more than one subject, math majors are in high demand – according to the US Department of Education, in the 2016-2017 school year 45 states reported statewide mathematics teacher shortages in at least one grade level. Nationwide, 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.
Math Teacher Career Interviews
- Kansas Teacher of the Year Nominee, Scott Keltner
- New York Math Teacher and Co-Author of TEDx Speaker, Jose Vilson
- President, Associated Mathematics Teachers in Connecticut, Lorrie Quirk
- President, California Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators, Professor Joanne Becker
- See all Math Teacher Career Interviews
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.
- Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (AMTE) – AMTE is the largest organization focused on math teacher education and development. Its membership includes professionals teaching from Pre-K to college.
- National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) – A leading association for math teachers that provides guidance on state and national education standards, access to lesson plans and class materials, and professional development conferences and meetings.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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