Becoming a Home Economics Teacher: Job Description & Salary Info

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What are the pros and cons of a career as a home economics teacher? Get real job descriptions, career outlook and salary info to see if becoming a home economics teacher is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of Being a Home Economics Teacher

As a home economics teacher you'll be able to help students learn how to maintain a home, manage household finances and take care of children. Check out these pros and cons to see if being a home economics teacher is a good fit for you.

Pros of Being a Home Economics Teacher
Chance to help others learn about home management*
Career pays an above-average salary (high school teachers made a median of around $56,000 annually, and postsecondary home economics teachers earned a median salary of about $63,000)**
Opportunity to take part in research and contribute to the academic world of home economics*
Ability to be creative in your lessons and assignments*

Cons of Being a Home Economics Teacher
Long hours grading homework are common*
Need a lot of schooling (bachelor's and graduate degrees are required for the postsecondary teaching level)*
Pressure to make sure students are learning and progressing*
At the postsecondary level, need to maintain office hours and be available to advise students outside of class*

Source: *O*NET Online, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Career Info

Job Description

Home economics teachers are hired to work at high schools and colleges, including both public and private institutions. They traditionally manage classrooms of students and teach concepts related to home management, ranging from childcare to finance and nutrition. The job requires you to design course materials and create lessons for your students. It's common for you to deliver lectures, but you may also lead classroom discussions and organize projects for students to work on in groups.

Since you are a teacher, grading homework and exams will be frequent tasks, and you'll need to evaluate your students constantly to make sure they are learning. Especially at the high school level, you'll need to track student attendance and behavior and keep in contact with administrators on how students are performing in class. Outside of the classroom, you may have an opportunity to engage in home economics research with colleagues and other home economics teachers. At the college level, it's also common for home economics professors to hold office hours to meet with students on an individual basis.

Career Growth and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides data for high school teachers in general, including home economics teachers; it found that job openings for high school teachers were expected to increase by 6% from 2012-2022, which is a slower-than-average rate. At the postsecondary level, the BLS found that about 3,600 postsecondary home economics teachers were employed in May 2014, with many employed in community colleges and 4-year universities. The employment of postsecondary home economics teachers should grow between 8% and 14% from 2012-2022, O*NET Online reports.

High school teachers earned a median salary of about $56,000 as of May 2014, as reported by the BLS. Postsecondary home economics teachers made a median annual salary of about $63,000 in May 2014, also according to the BLS. The lowest-paid 10% of postsecondary home economics teachers made about $32,000, while the highest-paid 10% earned roughly $114,000.

Education Requirements

Depending on where you want to teach home economics, you may be required to earn a bachelor's degree and a graduate degree in the field. As part of an undergraduate degree program in home economics, which can last about four years, you'll learn about family and consumer sciences. You'll take classes on food, nutrition, cooking, household management and marriage and family as a way to gain an understanding on how to run a home successfully. Your studies may also teach you about human relationships and how to best provide for a family or your spouse.

You may also be able to earn a graduate degree that relates to child development. It's more common for postsecondary home economics teachers to hold a master's degree, since college courses in this topic area are likely to be more in depth than home economic courses at the high school level. In a home economics graduate degree program, which can last about two years, you may learn about how children grow up and mature socially, emotionally and cognitively. You may also be able to take part in research studies as a way to gain hands-on experience in understanding how kids develop.

Credentials

If you want to teach home economics at a high school, you may need to earn special credentials. The credentialing process is separate from your college degrees and is designed to show future employers that you are properly trained and approved to teach home economics. For instance, in one state you need to earn a bachelor's degree, engage in specialized home economics training and test your knowledge of the field in order to gain your credentials in family and consumer sciences.

According to the BLS, all states require high school teachers who work in public schools to be licensed. The licensing process usually includes completion of a teacher education program and supervised student teaching. Teacher licensing may also be referred to as certification or as a teaching credential.

Job Postings from Real Employers

There are many home economics teaching positions available in high schools and colleges across the country. Depending on where you want to teach, you may need to hold a bachelor's degree and home economics credentials. Some employers may prefer you to have a graduate degree with professional experience. Check out these home economics positions posted by real employers in April 2012:

  • A public high school in California wants to hire a home economics teacher who can work with teenage students. The full-time position requires a bachelor's degree and home economics credentials. Experience in fashion and child development is also preferred.
  • A public high school in Connecticut is hiring a home economics teacher, also known as home arts teacher, who can work with students and parents. You'll need to be certified to teach home economics in Connecticut, and the employer prefers candidates to hold past teaching experience.
  • A public school system in Connecticut seeks a part-time family and consumer science teacher who can work with students. The teacher must be certified to teach home economics in the state.

How to Get an Edge in the Field

There are many ways to get ahead as a home economics teacher. A common way is to gain teaching experience, since many employers prefer teachers who have professional experience with students in the classroom. In addition, there are organizations like the Home Economics Teacher Association of California (HETAC) that regularly offer workshops and conferences for home economics teachers. As part of the professional development, you'll be able to meet fellow home economics teachers and network as you learn new strategies for the classroom and working with students. Organizations like HETAC also provide seminars online featuring topics in home economics.

Alternative Career Paths

Teacher Assistant

If you aren't ready to become a home economics teacher, you may want to think about a career as a teacher assistant. You'll work at a school and provide classroom support to the teacher and students as they learn during the school day. You can become a teacher assistant with a high school diploma or associate's degree, along with training and some experience. The job outlook is good for teacher assistants; the BLS finds that there should be a 15% growth (which is about as fast as average for all occupations) between 2010 and 2020. The pay, however, is much lower than the pay for teachers, since the BLS reports that teacher assistants earned a median annual salary of approximately $24,000 annually in May 2011.

Kindergarten or Elementary School Teacher

You can also consider becoming a kindergarten or elementary school teacher if you prefer to work with younger children. The position requires at least a bachelor's degree, as well as the proper license and certification to teach children. Much like a home economics career, you'll spend a lot of time grading papers and evaluating your students. The job outlook looks good, with the BLS projecting an average job growth of 17% from 2010 to 2020. However, the median salary is lower than for high school or postsecondary home economics teachers, with kindergarten teachers in general earning about $50,000 as a median and elementary school teachers earning a median of around $53,000, both as of May 2011.

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