According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, overall employment of kindergarten and elementary school teachers is projected to grow 7 percent (~124,300 on average, annually), and employment of high school teachers is projected to grow 8 percent (~77,400 on average annually) between now and 2030.
And yet, the nation still suffers from a severe teacher shortage. The problem is most pronounced in urban school districts, 75 percent of which report unfilled positions, but it is hardly confined to cities. Rural schools report shortages of 65 percent; suburban schools register a 60 percent shortage. No matter where you look, teachers are in demand.
All told, schools needed an additional 100,000 certified teachers before the pandemic, with critical positions going unfilled as a result. Such shortages disproportionately affect low-income schools that, in turn, disproportionately serve students of color. These same schools are also more likely to employ uncertified teachers in their first or second year of teaching, further exacerbating the disparity between affluent and low-income schools.
Demand is particularly acute for teachers of color. That’s because they have shown to be more effective in teaching students of color, studies indicate. Since over half of K-12 public school students are people of color, recruiting more teachers of color is imperative. Currently, only one in five teachers is a person of color.
The federal government is looking for remedies. President Biden’s American Families Plan “will invest in our teachers as well as our students, improving teacher training and support so that our schools become engines of growth at every level.” Biden has called on Congress to invest $9 billion in hiring, training, and supporting American teachers, with a particular focus on increasing teacher diversity. Opportunities for prospective teachers should only increase in the coming years.
Why become a teacher?
Teaching can be a challenging job. Teachers work long hours, and many feel that Americans don’t sufficiently value the work they do. However, despite those drawbacks, over 90 percent say they are satisfied with their work. Compared to lawyers (59 percent) and doctors (36–43 percent), teachers are a pretty happy lot.
That’s because teaching is rewarding. Every student needs a champion; teachers serve this essential function. Strong student-teacher relationships promote student performance and teacher retention; in other words, they benefit everyone.
In addition, as a teacher, you will develop an impressive battery of valuable, transferable skills, including:
- Assessment: You’ll learn to appraise others’ work and mine data to find areas of potential improvement, skills valued across all professional fields
- Communication: You’ll spend your school day communicating with students, fellow teachers, and administrators, and you’ll also craft regular communications to parents
- Community building: You’ll guide your students as they learn to work together and support one another, developing essential team-leadership skills
- Decision making: As the leader of your classroom, you’ll make dozens of critical decisions every day about how your class spends its time and focuses its energy
- Design thinking: You’ll learn to define and solve challenging problems with empathy and analytic reasoning, valuable skills in any endeavor
- Lesson planning: As a teacher, you’ll spend a lot of time preparing to teach; will experience, you’ll learn to prepare more expeditiously and effectively
- Listening: An underappreciated skill, listening closely and mindfully makes you more effective in any profession; you’ll get plenty of practice listening as a teacher
- Motivating: Teachers encourage, persuade, and inspire students to achieve; these are all skills that transfer easily to workplace management roles
- Organizing: Teachers juggle a heavy load of responsibilities; keeping them straight and prioritized is a big job that builds transferable skills
- Time management: A teacher’s calendar is packed with lesson preparation, teaching, grading, and consultation; success hinges on strong professional time-management skills
- Writing: You’ll correct your students’ writing and also do a lot of writing of your own in terms of assessments and reports; all will sharpen your writing skills
Teaching opens doors
Teaching is a fulfilling and rewarding profession on its own, and many teachers spend their entire careers in front of a classroom. However, teaching also opens doors to new opportunities that you may want to consider five, ten, or twenty years into your teaching career. With a master’s degree and some classroom experience, you may qualify for one of the following roles:
- Academic advisor: Counsel students on the courses they need to complete to graduate and meet other educational goals
- Corporate trainer: Lead professional development and process and policy training sessions for corporate employees
- Curriculum developer: Plan, develop, and create curriculum for various subject areas and grade levels
- Gifted and talented program director: Oversee supplemental education programs for gifted and talented students
- Literacy specialist: Work one-on-one (or in small groups) with students to assess and improve reading and comprehension skills
- Private tutor: Work one-on-one with students to improve academic performance
- School principal: Administer school operations and manage staff while leading teachers and staff in optimizing instruction and other student-support functions
What are the benefits of becoming a teacher right after college?
It’s never too late to become a teacher, according to Klassroom. That doesn’t mean there aren’t benefits to getting an early start, however. In fact, beginning your teaching career right after college provides all sorts of advantages, including the following.
Perspective and relatability
As a recent college graduate, you’ve just spent the last 16 years of your life in school. School is what you do best: you understand how students learn and what they look for in an engaging classroom. You have experienced great teachers, not-so-great teachers, and everything in between, and you know what distinguishes the best instructors. You’re also really good at school-time management. You know how to get through a day of classes, then come home and manage a pile of assignments. You’ll be able to apply all that expertise as a new teacher.
For many college graduates, the time right after college is when they have the fewest commitments and the greatest flexibility in their lives. It’s a great time to start a new adventure and start building a rewarding career simultaneously. Teaching can be that adventure.
Get started on your education profession – perhaps by enrolling in a teacher residency program, which enables you to accrue critical teaching experience while you earn your master of arts in teaching – when you can commit so much of your time and energy to building your skills and knowledge. Your life will likely grow more complicated as the years bring serious relationships and perhaps a family into the picture. Why not get your teaching career going now?
Getting an early start on your teaching career gives you the time to explore, experiment, and make (and learn from) mistakes. Classroom teachers agree that they improve with experience, so why not get that process started as soon as you can? If you discover in the process that teaching isn’t for you, you still have plenty of time to change your career plans. And if you’re like the many teachers who decide to build a career in education, you’ll start the clock ticking on your progress toward higher pay and maximum retirement benefits.
Why get an MAT from the NYU Teacher Residency program?
Most states offer recent college graduates multiple teaching career paths. While many teachers make their way into the classroom through bachelor’s degrees in teaching or education, that is hardly the only option. You do not need an education degree to teach after college.
Alternative teacher preparation programs include teacher residency programs. These master’s-level graduate degree programs include a full-time classroom apprenticeship. You can qualify for a residency with any undergraduate major; you do not have to be an education major or even have taken any undergraduate education classes.
Teacher residencies can be completed in just over one year. If you majored in English, mathematics, science, or social sciences as an undergraduate, you qualify for the specific-subject mastery track required to become a middle school or high school teacher. Any major qualifies you for elementary education, or “Inclusive Education” within the NYU Teacher Residency curriculum.
The Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University offers a Teacher Residency Program that partners with districts and organizations across the country. The NYU program is committed to transforming teacher preparation, boosting minority representation among educators, bolstering academic achievement at high-need schools, and redressing societal inequality and injustice. Its partners share these objectives.
You’ll apprentice part-time or full-time (depending on where your residency site is based) in a partner school under the supervision of an experienced teacher, for which you’ll earn a salary and/or a stipend to meet living expenses and defray the cost of the program. In the evenings, you’ll study for your master’s, completing a 10-12 module master of arts in teaching curriculum featuring asynchronous content and two online synchronous classes per week. Course work covers learning theory, pedagogic practice, ethics, classroom management, assessment and measurement, and education research.
You’ll benefit from a solid support network of mentors, coaches, advisors, and peers, resulting in a safe and effective learning environment. When you’re done, you’ll hold a master’s degree from a world-renowned research university. In some school districts and charters, holding a master’s degree triggers an automatic pay increase.
How to become a teacher after college
You can become a teacher after college by enrolling in the NYU Teacher Residency Program, through which you will earn a master of arts in teaching while accruing significant teaching experience. You’ll need to check to make sure you meet program eligibility requirements, which vary depending on degree you pursue.
The NYU Residency Program offers two degree options, so you need to determine which is best for you. The master of arts in teaching in Inclusive Childhood Education prepares you for early childhood education and elementary teaching. The master of arts in teaching in Secondary Education prepares you to teach at the middle-school and high-school levels. To decide which best fits your career goals, ask yourself:
- What subject(s) do I want to teach?
- What age group do I want to teach?
- Which student age group best suits my communication style and personality?
- Which student age group most inspires you?
Next, research your financial aid options, including scholarships, grants, and loans. Review the relevant costs for the program, including the salary or stipend you will receive to offset your education expenses. Prepare your financial aid application to submit at the same time you apply for admission.
Your admission application must include:
- An unofficial transcript for initial review: This is used to determine the subject matter areas for which you qualify
- A transcript request form to procure official transcripts: Official transcripts from your college or university are required before you can be officially admitted to the program
- Two letters of recommendation: Choose recommenders who know you well and can speak to your abilities as a student and prospective teacher; professors and recent employers are best
- Résumé: Highlight all academic and career achievements that indicate teaching experience and potential
- Essays: Here’s your opportunity to distinguish yourself among your fellow applicants; make sure to convey your enthusiasm for and commitment to teaching high-need students
- Video introduction: This 90-second video provides another opportunity to convey your communication skills and commitment to the program’s objectives
- English proficiency exams (if your native language is not English)
No teaching experience is required to enter the NYU Teaching Residency Program. Applicants must pass a criminal background check before field placement.
The end of college represents a significant crossroads in any person’s life. What will you do next? If you have a calling to teach, the Teacher Residency Program at NYU Steinhardt offers a pathway for you to a supportive, structured classroom conducive to success. You’ll graduate in just over a year with a master of arts in teaching and over 1,000 hours of classroom experience.