High School Spanish Teacher Careers: Job Description & Salary Info

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What are the pros and cons of a high school Spanish teacher career? Get real job descriptions, career outlooks and salary info to see if becoming a high school Spanish teacher is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of Being a High School Spanish Teacher

A high school Spanish teacher is responsible for planning lessons and instructing students. Check out these pros and cons to see if being a high school Spanish teacher is a good fit for you.

Pros of Being a High School Spanish Teacher
Ability to teach students a completely new language*
Chance to help students learn about Spanish culture and way of life*
Decent pay (high school teachers earned a median salary of $56,310 in 2014)*
May have summers off work when school is out of session*
Opportunity to be creative in designing lessons and assignments for students*

Cons of Being a High School Spanish Teacher
Job outlook isn't strong (6% growth in employment of high school teachers between 2012 and 2022)*
Grading homework and creating lessons can be daunting*
Pressure to make sure students are learning and progressing*
Need to frequently meet with parents and school administrators to discuss student learning*
Working with high school students can be emotionally draining*

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

Career Info

Job Description

As a high school Spanish teacher, you'll be in charge of teaching students Spanish by leading lectures, organizing group projects and assigning homework that focuses on Spanish vocabulary, reading, speaking and writing. You can expect to teach Spanish classes that include students in grades 9-12, so you'll work with students who are completely new to the language as well as more advanced students.

In addition to delivering instruction, you'll be tasked with monitoring the progress of each of your students and coming up with additional work for students who have fallen behind on their lessons. Since your students are in high school, you'll also have to keep in touch with parents and school administrators to let them know how the students are progressing academically, as well as socially and emotionally. It's also common for high school teachers to hold responsibilities outside of the classroom. For example, you may be asked to serve as adviser to the school Spanish club or organize field trips so that your students can explore Spanish culture and way of life.

Salary Stats and Job Growth

There were a little less than a million secondary teachers employed across the country in May 2014. High school teachers earned a median annual salary of $56,310, according to figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in May 2014. However, secondary teachers can earn as little as $40,000 or as much as $74,000, depending on your experience and where you live, the BLS reports.

The job outlook for high school teachers is not very positive. Between 2012 and 2022, the employment of high school teachers is likely to grow by 6%, which is slower than average, the BLS finds. The core reason for the slowdown is a decline in the student-to-teacher ratio, which means fewer teachers are needed. There will still be job opening as older teachers prepare to retire and younger teachers are needed to fill the vacancies.

Education Requirements

For the most part, you'll need to hold a bachelor's degree to teach at a high school. As for Spanish teachers, schools are generally looking for teachers who have formally studied the language and are fluent. It's common for colleges and universities to offer bachelor's degrees in Spanish, which can take you about four years to complete.

As part of your degree program, you'll learn how to master the Spanish language through verbal and written exercises. By the time you earn your undergraduate degree, you'll be extremely proficient in the language and will be able to teach it to others. You may also be able to take part in a study abroad program as a way to expose yourself to Spanish culture by living in a foreign country where the dominant language is Spanish.

Credentials and Licensure

If you want to teach Spanish at a public high school, you'll need to become licensed, which may also be known as becoming certificated. For Spanish, some states require you to earn a Single Subject Teaching Credential, which is awarded to you after you complete a training program and pass an examination that tests your language comprehension. This credential is designed to show future employers that you are qualified to teach Spanish. The education requirements may vary depending on where you work. Private schools, for instance, may not require credentials, but you are likely to still need to have a college degree that focuses on Spanish.

Job Postings from Real Employers

Schools across the country are looking for qualified teachers who can teach Spanish to high school students. Many of the employers are looking for teaching experience, in addition to holding a bachelor's degree and certification. Check out these job openings from real employers posted in April 2012:

  • A public charter school in Massachusetts is looking for a high school Spanish teacher who can instruct students through hands-on activities. You'll need a bachelor's degree and at least one year of experience teaching Spanish.
  • A public high school in Vermont is hiring for a Spanish teacher who can teach all levels of students. The school prefers someone who is dynamic and able to enhance the school's Spanish program. There's no teaching experience required, but you'll need a bachelor's degree to be considered.
  • A public high school in Rhode Island seeks a Spanish teacher who can plan and lead Spanish lessons for the classroom. You'll need to know how to use all types of instructional materials and tools, like technology, to promote your Spanish lessons. You'll need to undergo a background check and be certified to teach Spanish in Rhode Island.

How to Get an Edge in the Field

One of the more common ways to engage in professional development is through joining a networking organization like The American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP). This organization frequently hosts conferences and workshops that allow high school Spanish teachers to further their skills and learn new ways to reach students through their lessons. Your membership will allow you to access resources for the classroom and receive publications that keep you abreast of what's happening among fellow high school Spanish teachers across the country.

Alternative Career Paths

Instructional Coordinator

If a career as a high school Spanish teacher isn't for you, think about a career as an instructional coordinator. In this role, you'll be able to manage a school district's curriculum as it relates to what students learn in the classroom. The career path requires a bit more schooling than a high school Spanish teacher because you'll need to hold a master's degree in addition to your bachelor's degree. Unlike high school Spanish teachers, the employment of instructional coordinators should grow at a faster than average rate. The BLS reports that there will be a 20% growth in instructional coordinators between 2010 and 2020.

Career and Technical Education Teacher

Another option is to become a career and technical education teacher. With this option, you'll have the opportunity to teach middle and high school students about future career opportunities through real-life demonstrations and hands-on activities. It's common for these types of teachers to offer classes that focus on auto repair, plumbing or culinary arts. The job growth for these types of teachers is expected to be stagnant as the BLS projects only a 2% growth from 2010-2020.

Teacher Assistant

If you aren't ready to lead a class of your own, then becoming a teacher assistant may be the right fit for you. You'll work within a classroom and provide assistance to lead teachers as they prepare homework, lead lessons and work with students. The job requires a high school diploma at minimum. The pay is much less than that of a high school Spanish teacher and the BLS reports that teacher assistants earned a median pay of $24,000 in 2011.

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