Middle School Teacher Career Guide

A middle school teacher (or junior high teacher) educates children in 6th to 8th grades (may vary by district). Most middle school teachers specialize in one subject or area, depending on the size of the school. This guide provides information on what middle school teachers do, how to become one, and salary and job outlook.

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How to Become a Middle School Teacher

The path to becoming a middle school in every state requires a bachelor’s degree, an appropriately accredited or state-approved teacher preparation program, and a teaching certificate. To teach middle school, teachers usually need to have a bachelor’s degree with a major in the subject they wish to teach. Following are the common steps towards becoming a middle school teacher:

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree in the subject(s) you wish to teach that includes a teacher preparation program.
  2. Complete a student teaching internship in a middle school classroom.
  3. Pass your state’s required tests for educators.
  4. Apply for your state teaching certificate.
  5. Begin applying for open middle school teaching jobs.

While you will need to major in at least one teachable subject to teach it in the middle grades, some schools offer middle school teaching programs that include preparation for two related subjects, such as science and math or English and reading, depending on state-level subject requirements for teacher licensing. Teacher licensing requirements differ from state to state but typically include exams that demonstrate an individual’s teaching skills and proficiency in the subject to be taught. Private schools may or may not require educators to hold teaching certification. If you already hold a bachelor’s degree in the subject you wish to teach, you may be eligible for an alternative route to certification. Earning a master’s degree in education is one alternative route to a teaching career in many states.

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.

Middle School Teacher Job Description

Since middle school is between elementary school and high school, middle school teachers lead a review of concepts learned in elementary school and build on these with more in-depth information, preparing students for the high school years. Teachers in middle schools normally focus on a 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.

Common Tasks

A middle school teacher’s responsibilities include preparing courses, assigning lessons, grading homework and tests, creating classroom rules, and meeting with parents to discuss student progress and behavior issues.

Helpful Skills and Experience

Excellent organizational, communication/presentation, and decision-making skills are important for prospective middle school teachers. Teachers should be calm, fair, and patient. Knowledge or certification in a specialty subject will make a teacher more desirable, particularly in the subject areas of math and science and other areas of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), which are experiencing a shortage of teachers in many areas of the US.

Middle School Teacher Salary and Job Outlook

Most states need qualified teachers, especially in shortage areas like math and science. Location, school district, years of experience, and subject area are factors that impact teacher salaries. The national median salary for middle school teachers was $61,810 while those in the 90th percentile earned $100,570 as of 2022.1 Most school systems offer a benefits package in addition to salary, which may include medical, dental, and vision insurance coverage, as well as paid holidays and sick leave. Teachers may be able to increase their income through tutoring, furthering their education, gaining experience, and/or pursuing careers in administration. Overall, the job outlook for middle school teachers is strong. Employment is expected to grow for middle school teachers by about 4% through 2031.2

Additional Resources

Middle School Teacher Career Interviews

Frequently Asked Questions

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

Answer: While certification requirements vary from state to state, public schools in all states do require that middle school teachers be certified. Private schools may not require state certification. You can check with your state board of education or college program for further information on certification requirements in your state. You can also get started with our state guides to traditional certification and alternative certification.

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.

1. Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2022 Occupational Employment and Wages, Middle School Teachers: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes252022.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