Becoming a Math Teacher: Job Description & Salary Info

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

Teaching in this academic area will give you the opportunity to teach math to students ranging from elementary school kids to college-aged adults. Check out these pros and cons to see if being a math teacher is a good fit for you.

Pros of Being a Math Teacher
Teachers can earn a comfortable living (as much as $74,000 in the postsecondary setting)*
Ability to inspire learning in others*
Math teachers are needed at all grade levels (elementary, secondary and postsecondary)*
School year may mean summers off work*

Cons of Being a Math Teacher
Need for a lot of schooling (at least a bachelor's degree, plus credentials)*
Pressure to make sure students are achieving and learning*
Long hours grading homework and examinations*
Need to meet with students, administrators and parents frequently*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Career Info

Job Description

As a math teacher, you'll be in charge of a classroom at an elementary, secondary or postsecondary school. Your responsibilities will include creating a syllabus for your class, assigning homework, leading lectures, organizing lessons and grading students on their progress. You'll teach your students everything there is to know about mathematics. For instance, at the kindergarten and elementary school levels, you'll introduce younger students to the basic concepts of math, such as adding and subtracting. As they grow up and enter secondary school, you will teach them about mathematical concepts like algebra and geometry. By the time they reach postsecondary studies, your students will have a strong foundation in mathematics, which means your lessons may focus on in-depth concepts, including calculus and discrete mathematics.

Outside of the classroom, you may tutor students who are behind on their lessons. It's also common for you to meet with fellow teachers, administrators and parents to focus on student achievement and classroom materials. At the postsecondary level, math teachers also take part in research and conferences to stay up-to-date with new trends in math instruction.

Career Prospects and Salary Info

The job outlook for teachers is generally positive and there is some anticipated growth in the years to come. At the kindergarten and elementary school levels, the employment of teachers is expected to grow by 12% between 2012 and 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). At the high school level, however, the BLS predicted that employment of high school teachers would grow by 6% between 2012 and 2022. This rate of growth is considered slower than average and is largely due to the slower growth in high school enrollment compared with growth in other grades. The job outlook looks better for postsecondary teachers, including math professors, who are projected to experience an employment growth of 19% from 2012-2022 as the number of college and university students rises.

Teachers make a decent living. You'll be able to earn the most pay at the postsecondary level, where the BLS reported that mathematical science teachers earned $74,000 on average in May 2014. High school teachers made an annual salary of $59,000 in 2014, while elementary school teachers earned $57,000 in the same year.

Education Requirements

The education requirements for math teachers will change depending on where you want to teach. At the kindergarten, elementary and secondary school level, you'll need at least a bachelor's degree that relates to education and mathematics. Your undergraduate classes will show you how to work with students and develop lessons. A portion of your studies will also involve fieldwork where you'll practice your teaching skills before students in a supervised setting.

Postsecondary math teachers generally carry the highest education requirements. If you want to teach mathematics at the 4-year university level, you'll need to hold at least a master's degree, although a doctoral degree is the more common requirement. You'll need to study mathematics and have a deep understanding of the field and how to teach complex formulas and theories to college-aged students. At the community college level, a master's degree is more common for math teachers, but math teachers with a Ph.D. may be picked over candidates with only a master's degree.

License and Certification

Math teachers for kindergarten, elementary and secondary school students need to be licensed, also called certified, to teach in public schools. The requirements for a license vary by state, but generally require a bachelor's degree, supervised teaching experience and a passing score on the teaching certification test. You may also be required to take professional development courses every year to keep your teaching license.

Job Postings from Real Employers

Schools across the country are looking for math teachers to work with students. For the most part, the jobs require at least a bachelor's degree with proper licenses. There are also schools that prefer job candidates to have previous teaching experience. Check out these job postings from real employers that were available in April 2012:

  • A public high school in Massachusetts is looking for two full-time math teachers who can teach geometry, algebra, trigonometry, statistics and calculus to high school students. You'll need a bachelor's degree, as well as a license to be considered for the position.
  • A public middle school in Texas is hiring a full-time math teacher who can teach algebra to students. The job requires a bachelor's degree, along with the proper teaching credentials and licenses to teach in Texas.
  • A public high school in Vermont is seeking a full-time math teacher who can work with students and instruct them in their high school math classes. The job requires a bachelor's degree and Vermont-approved teaching credentials and licenses.

How to Get an Edge in the Field

One of the most common ways to get an edge is with classroom teaching experience. This is especially true for postsecondary math teachers as many universities require math teachers to hold previous experience before being hired.

Outside of experience, there are organizations, like the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), that regularly host conferences and workshops for math teachers from across the country to meet, network and learn. The organization also hosts e-seminars that instruct math teachers on the latest trends in math curriculum and how to best reach students in the classroom.

Alternative Career Paths

Instructional Coordinator

If you'd like to work in a school setting, but don't want to be in a classroom, you should think about becoming an instructional coordinator. With this career, you'll work with school district administrators to develop curriculum and instructional materials for the classroom. The job is expected to be in high demand with the BLS projecting a 20% growth in employment from 2010-2020. You'll need to go through a good amount of schooling to become an instructional coordinator as most school districts require a bachelor's degree, as well as a master's degree, which can amount to at least six years of schooling.

Mathematician

If you love math, but don't want to be a teacher, then becoming a mathematician could be a good career path. You'll work on real-world math problems and take part in the development of new mathematical concepts and principles. The BLS reported that mathematicians are able to make a decent living, earning $101,000 annually, according to figures from May 2011. You'll need a minimum of a master's degree to find entry-level work as a mathematician.

Career and Technical Education Teacher

Another option is to become a career and technical education teacher. In this role, you'll be able to work with middle and high school students as they figure out what career paths appeal to them. The job requires a bachelor's degree at the minimum and you must be certified to teach in the classroom. There is only a slight increase in demand for career and technical education teachers with the BLS predicting a 2% change between 2010 and 2020.

Popular Schools

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    1. Colorado State University Global

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    Master's
      • MS - Teaching and Learning
      • MS - Teaching and Learning
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    2. Purdue University Global

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      • Master: Teaching (for Aspiring Teachers: Grades 5-12)
      • Master: Education (for Practicing Teachers: K-12)
      • Master: Higher Education - College Teaching/Learning
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      • BS in Early Childhood Administration
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    3. Regent University

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      • Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education
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    4. Grand Canyon University

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      • Doctor of Education in Teaching and Learning with an Emphasis in Adult Learning
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      • MA in Curriculum and Instruction
      • M.A. in Communication with an Emphasis in Education
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    5. Concordia University Portland

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      • M.S. - Curriculum & Instruction: Mathematics
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    6. Colorado Christian University

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      • Master of Arts in Education and Human Development in Organizational Leadership and Learning
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      • MS in Education - Special Education and Wilson Reading System Certification
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      • PhD in Education - Curriculum and Teaching
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Featured Schools

Colorado State University Global

  • MS - Teaching and Learning

What is your highest level of education?

Purdue University Global

  • Master: Teaching (for Aspiring Teachers: Grades 5-12)
  • Master: Education (for Practicing Teachers: K-12)
  • BS in Early Childhood Administration

Which subject are you interested in?

Regent University

  • Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education

What is your highest level of education completed?

Grand Canyon University

  • Doctor of Education in Teaching and Learning with an Emphasis in Adult Learning
  • MA in Curriculum and Instruction
  • Bachelor of Science in Math for Secondary Education

What is your highest level of education?

Concordia University Portland

  • M.S. - Curriculum & Instruction: Mathematics
  • Master of Education - Curriculum & Instruction: Leadership
  • MEd in Curriculum and Instruction - STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math)

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado Christian University

  • Elementary Education, B.A. without Licensure
  • Early Childhood Education, B.A. without Licensure

What is your highest level of education completed?

The George Washington University

  • Master of Arts in Education and Human Development in Organizational Leadership and Learning

What is your highest level of education?

Saint Joseph's University

  • MS in Education - Special Education and Wilson Reading System Certification

What is your highest level of education completed?