Becoming a Spanish Teacher: Job Description & Salary Info

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

As a Spanish teacher, you can expect to use oral and written assignments and exercises to teach students the language. Here are some general points to consider for this career path.

Pros of a Career as a Spanish Teacher
Job security through tenure laws in some states*
Can teach various grade levels*
Teachers may have summers off*
Can be rewarding helping students develop new language skills and knowledge*

Cons of a Career as a Spanish Teacher
Sluggish growth for high school teachers (6% during 2012-2022) and Northeast region*
Highly competitive due to limited job opportunities*
Public school teachers are required to meet state licensing and certification requirements*
Can be stressful (budget cuts, large class sizes or student behavioral problems)*

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

Essential Career Info

Job Description and Duties

Spanish teachers work with students in grades K-12. As a Spanish teacher, you may prepare lesson plans, help students overcome difficulties and communicate with parents. Lesson plans and assignments may involve teaching Spanish vocabulary, culture, pronunciation as well as reading, writing and listening skills. In addition to working during school hours, you may also take assignments home to grade, meet with parents after hours or supervise student extracurricular activities. Teachers may face stressful circumstances, such as overcrowded class sizes and lack of resources due to budget cuts. Additionally, teachers have to deal with students that may exhibit rude or apathetic behaviors. Both public and private institutions are employment options.

Salary and Outlook Info

May 2014 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated salaries for teachers at the elementary, middle and high school levels: elementary and middle school teachers earned median annual wages of approximately $54,000, while secondary school teachers brought in slightly more with median salaries at about $56,000.

Employment growth rates for 2012-2022 are higher at the elementary and middle school levels with average 12% rates for both, according to the BLS. However, rates for high school teachers during this same time period are much lower at a mere 6%. Furthermore, employment growth varies for each region; the BLS stated that while student enrollment rates in the South and West should increase, the Midwest should remain steady and the Northeast should decline.

What Are the Requirements?

Education

To become a Spanish teacher, you need to earn a bachelor's degree in Spanish or education. Teachers at the middle and high school levels typically earn their degrees in subject-specific areas, while elementary school teachers typically earn education degrees. Additionally, some schools require teachers to earn their master's degrees within a specified time period. In a Spanish education program, you learn to teach Spanish to students of all ages, and you participate in a student teaching experience. Spanish majors learn about the Spanish language, literature, history and culture. Some Spanish bachelor's programs also offer education tracks for aspiring teachers.

Licensing

If you plan to teach in private schools, you don't need to obtain a teaching license. However, public schools in all states require teachers to earn licensure. While requirements for this differ for each state, the BLS reported that some common requirements include having a bachelor's degree, completing a teacher preparation program, acquiring student teaching experience and passing exams.

What Employers Are Looking for

Advertisements for Spanish teachers typically required candidates with energy, enthusiasm and an ability to collaborate. Here are examples of job postings from real employers during April 2012:

  • A Massachusetts charter school advertised for an experienced high school Spanish teacher with the ability to design appealing curriculum and teamwork abilities.
  • A private school in New York advertised for a middle school Spanish teacher with dual certification in another language. The school also required three professional references and previous experience at the middle school level.
  • A public high school based in Massachusetts advertised for a licensed Spanish teacher with a relevant bachelor's degree, although a master's degree was preferred.

How to Stand Out in the Field

You can stand out to employers through membership and active participation in national and regional foreign language teaching organizations. As a member of the American Council on Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), you join the mission of progressing and expanding foreign language instruction for all grade levels. ACTFL offers professional development opportunities and also holds conventions where you can learn and discuss various issues, technology, research, curriculum and more.

The American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese is another option. Members in this organization endorse the teaching of these two languages in addition to the historical and cultural aspects. You may gain access to research, classroom resources, conferences, travel abroad awards and outreach services.

Alternative Career Paths

If you would prefer to teach older students at the college level, you can work toward becoming a Spanish college professor. You most likely will need a graduate degree; 4-year colleges and universities often require a doctorate, while 2-year schools may accept a master's degree. As of May 2011, the median annual wage for a postsecondary teacher was approximately $64,000, according to the BLS. Furthermore, due to a predicted increase in enrollment, employment for postsecondary teachers is expected to increase by an average 17% from 2010-2020.

If you decide that teaching is not right for you, then you could pursue a career as a translator or interpreter. These professionals convert either the written or oral form of one language into another. May 2011 data from the BLS showed the median pay for these professionals was roughly $44,000. Furthermore, employment is expected to increase at a much faster rate of 42% during 2010-2020.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. The George Washington University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Education and Human Development in Organizational Leadership and Learning
      • Master of Arts in Education and Human Development in Organizational Leadership and Learning
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master: Teaching (for Aspiring Teachers: Grades 5-12)
      • Master: Higher Education - Online College Teaching
      • Master: Education (for Practicing Teachers: K-12)
      • Master: Higher Education - College Teaching/Learning
    Bachelor's
      • BS in Early Childhood Administration
      • Undergraduate in Early Childhood
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Concordia University Portland

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Education - Curriculum & Instruction: Leadership
      • MEd in Curriculum and Instruction - STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math)
      • M.S. - Curriculum & Instruction: Reading
      • M.S. - Curriculum & Instruction: Science
      • M.S. - Curriculum & Instruction: Mathematics
      • M.S. - Career and Technical Education (CTE)
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • PhD in Education - Curriculum and Teaching
      • Ed.D. - Curriculum and Teaching
      • PhD in Education - English Second Other Language/ESOL
      • Ed.D. - General Education
      • EdD - Learning Analytics in Higher Education
    Master's
      • M.Ed. - Curriculum and Teaching
      • M.Ed. - General Education
      • M.Ed. - English Second Other Language/ESOL
      • M.Ed. - Early Childhood Education
    Certificate
      • Education Specialist - Curriculum and Teaching
      • Education Specialist - Early Childhood Education
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Education in Teaching and Learning with an Emphasis in Adult Learning
      • Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership - Behavioral Health
    Master's
      • MA in Curriculum and Instruction
      • M.A. in Communication with an Emphasis in Education
      • M.Ed. in Elementary Education
      • M.Ed. in Secondary Education
      • M.Ed. in Early Childhood
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education
      • B.S. in Elementary Education with an Emphasis in Christian Education
      • BS in Early Childhood
      • B.S. in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education
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    6. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Management - Graduate Level Instructional Practices
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Saint Joseph's University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS in Education - Special Education and Wilson Reading System Certification
  • Online Programs Available
    8. American InterContinental University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master: Education - Curriculum and Instruction
      • Master: Education - Leadership in Educational Organizations
      • Master of Education - Elementary Education
      • Master of Education - Secondary Education
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Saint John's University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Ph.D. in Literacy
      • Ph.D. in Literacy: Educational Leadership
      • Ph.D. in Literacy: Special Education
      • Ph.D. in Literacy: Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)
      • Ph.D in Literacy: Literacy
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    10. Penn Foster High School

    Program Options

    High School Diploma
      • Penn Foster High School with Early College Courses
      • HS Diploma

Featured Schools

The George Washington University

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

What is your highest level of education?

Kaplan University

  • Master: Teaching (for Aspiring Teachers: Grades 5-12)
  • Master: Higher Education - Online College Teaching
  • BS in Early Childhood Administration
  • Undergraduate in Early Childhood

Which subject are you interested in?

Concordia University Portland

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

What is your highest level of education?

Northcentral University

  • PhD in Education - Curriculum and Teaching
  • M.Ed. - Curriculum and Teaching
  • Education Specialist - Curriculum and Teaching

What is your highest level of education?

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 Elementary Education

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado Technical University

  • Doctor of Management - Graduate Level Instructional Practices

Are you a US citizen?

Saint Joseph's University

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

What is your highest level of education completed?

American InterContinental University

  • Master: Education - Curriculum and Instruction
  • Master: Education - Leadership in Educational Organizations
  • Master of Education - Elementary Education

Are you a US citizen?