Math Teacher Career Guide

A math teacher instructs students of various areas and levels of mathematics, from elementary school to high school and beyond. Math teachers play a crucial role in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education, which has seen a recent surge in the increasingly technical world. This guide provides information on what math teachers do, how to become one, and the salary and job outlook for prospective math teachers.

Table of Contents

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 typically take two years of general education courses and lower-level math courses before applying to the teacher preparation program in their junior year of study. They then take advanced math courses along with teacher education courses. Keep in mind that math teachers in private schools may not be required to be certified, so check the requirements for your schools of interest. The common steps to becoming a math teacher in a K-12 public school are:

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree in math or a subfield of mathematics that includes a state-approved teacher preparation program.
  2. Complete a student teaching internship in math at the grade level(s) you wish to teach.
  3. Pass your state’s required tests for math teachers.
  4. Apply for your teaching credential.
  5. Begin applying to open math teacher positions.

Prospective teachers and have already earned an undergraduate degree in math but not 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 postsecondary level typically must earn at least a master’s degree (and sometimes a doctoral degree) in mathematics. Math teachers at all levels should anticipate taking continuing education courses, including courses in math, to keep their license current and retain a high working knowledge of mathematical theory.

Education Schools and Certification by State

Each state has its own process for becoming a teacher. Below, you will find schools in your state that offer teacher preparation programs, as well as information on traditional and alternative certification pathways specific to your state.

Math Teacher Job Description

Math teachers create lesson plans to instruct their students in general or specialized subjects within mathematics such as arithmetic, algebra, geometry, statistics, and calculus. They teach math concepts and prepare homework and tests to evaluate their students’ understanding of these concepts. They also assess students’ progress and abilities throughout the school year. As math is part of the core curriculum in K-12 public schools, 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 teachers typically work in public or private middle or high schools, as well as in postsecondary schools (colleges and universities). At lower levels, math is typically taught by elementary teachers who teach all subjects, though some schools practice departmentalization where two to three teachers teach specific subjects to students in one grade level.

Common Tasks

Mathematics teachers should possess strong math skills and knowledge and be able to communicate math principles effectively to their students. They develop lesson plans and course schedules, grade homework and assessments, communicate with staff, students and parents, and work within school technology systems. Math teachers need patience and understanding to promote students’ critical thinking skills and ability to utilize math in everyday life.

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 participate in workshops and conferences to keep their own advanced math and math education skills current. Teachers commonly also tutor students.

Helpful Skills and Experience

In addition to strong mathematics knowledge, math teachers should be able to effectively convey complex mathematical concepts to learners of all levels and abilities. Math teachers who pursue graduate degrees are typically considered to be more highly qualified and are thus more in demand in the current job market. They also may earn higher salaries than their peers. 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.

Math Teacher Salary and Job Outlook

Math teacher jobs are available for general and specialized instructors in both public and private schools. According to the US Department of Education, for the 2023-2024 school year, 35 states reported statewide mathematics teacher shortages in at least one grade level. K-12 teachers are expected to see job growth of 4-5% through 2031.1-3 Nationwide, as of 2022, elementary school teachers earned a median annual salary of $61,690.4 Over the same timeframe, middle school teachers earned a median annual salary of $61,810, and high school teachers earned a median annual salary of $62,360.5,6 Postsecondary teachers in mathematical science, who typically hold a graduate degree, earned a median salary of $77,580 per year in 2021 and are expected to see job growth of 6% through 2031.7 Teachers may be able to increase their annual salary potential by accruing experience and/or additional education.

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

Additional Resources

Math Teacher Career Interviews

Frequently Asked Questions

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 can be candidates if they demonstrate advanced knowledge of their subject area, the ability to lead students in successful learning, and have 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.8 Math teachers willing to teach in urban or rural school districts may find additional opportunities.1-3

Question: What is STEM education and why is it important?

Answer: STEM teachers educate students in the broad subjects of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. As such, math teachers are an integral part of STEM education. According to the US Department of Education, STEM is important to education because the concepts taught within these subjects prepare students to be able to solve problems, evaluate information, and use evidence to drive decision-making, helping to develop them into future leaders.

1. 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. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, Middle School Teachers: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/middle-school-teachers.htm
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, High School Teachers https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/high-school-teachers.htm
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2022 Occupational Employment and Wages, Elementary School Teachers: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes252021.htm
5. Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2022 Occupational Employment and Wages, Middle School Teachers: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes252022.htm
6. Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2022 Occupational Employment and Wages, High School Teachers: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes252031.htm
7. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, Postsecondary Teachers https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/postsecondary-teachers.htm
8. US Department of Education, Teacher Shortage Areas Nationwide Listing: https://tsa.ed.gov/#/reports