Middle School Math Teacher Careers: Salary Info & Job Description

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What are the pros and cons of a middle school math teacher career? Read on to see real job descriptions, salary info and career prospects to find out if becoming a middle school math teacher is the right career choice for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Middle School Math Teacher Career

Middle school math teachers work when their students are in school and usually get a break during summer months. Check out these pros and cons to see if becoming a middle school math teacher is right for you:

Pros of a Middle School Math Teacher Career
Median annual salary of about $54,940*
Summer and winter vacations off*
Job security with tenure (in most states)*
Satisfaction from imparting knowledge and enthusiasm about learning*

Cons of a Middle School Math Teacher Career
Licensing requirements for public schools*
Need to deal with unmotivated or unruly students*
Possible evening and weekend hours spent grading tests or homework*
Large class sizes and few resources in some schools*

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

Essential Career Info

Job Description

Middle school math teachers create lesson plans around a school's curriculum in order to teach math to children in grades 6-8 who are usually about 10-14 years old. As a middle school math teacher, you would teach concepts like basic algebra, geometry, fractions, ratios and statistics. As the classes change throughout the day, you would see multiple groups of students and may even teach different levels of math classes. Your job would also include keeping track of each student's progress and preparing individualized study plans if you see a need.

Salary Info and Career Prospects

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported in May 2014 that middle school teachers made a median annual salary of about $54,940 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also projected an employment increase for middle school teachers of 12% for the years of 2012-2022, which is about as fast as average. Employment growth can vary greatly by region, with higher growth projected in southern and western states where enrollment in middle schools is expected to grow the fastest. Public middle schools depend on local and state government funding, so employment can vary within regions as well.

Education and Licensing Requirements

According to the BLS, all public school teachers must be licensed. Though licensing requirements vary, all states require you to have a bachelor's degree in order to teach at a public middle school. There are many teaching degree programs available at colleges and universities, and some specifically in teaching middle school mathematics. The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council accredit these programs. These programs have an experiential component, in the form of student teaching, which can complete part of your state licensing requirements.

Useful Skills

As a teacher, you need to have kindness, patience and enthusiasm. Your students may not be interested in learning math, so you need to be able to present your lessons in a way that makes them excited to learn. You are in control of your classroom, so you make the rules and enforce requirements. In the case of student conflict, you should be able to compassionately deal with any issues that arise.

Job Postings from Real Employers

Many job postings for middle school math teaching positions mention that you should be motivated, flexible and communicative. Most employers mention that you need to have the proper state licensure and a bachelor's degree, though some schools may prefer to hire candidates with master's degrees. Read these summaries of job postings open in April 2012 to get an idea of what some employers are looking for:

  • A Washington, D.C., charter school program was looking to hire middle school math teachers to work within the public charter school system. Candidates should have a bachelor's degree, qualification to teach middle school math and a goal-focused attitude.
  • A school system in New York was searching for a middle school math teacher with a bachelor's degree, a certification in teaching math at the middle school level and at least two years of classroom experience. Though this employer preferred someone with a master's degree, they also noted that the candidate should be highly motivated in teaching a math curriculum that focuses on the fun of math and encourages curiosity.
  • A virtual education academy in Georgia was looking for a middle school math teacher with a state license, strong technology and communication skills and at least three years of experience.

How to Stand out in the Field

Keeping up to date on the field and advancing your knowledge can differentiate you from other candidates for middle school math teaching positions. Continuing education and professional development classes for teachers, which may be required to maintain your state licensure, can introduce you to new ways to present the material in your classroom. Though the math concepts you teach may not change, teaching practices are constantly under review and being updated with new methodology. This may include new technologies, so it's a good idea to keep your computer skills up-to-date to deliver math lessons in exciting and engaging ways.

These classes are available at many colleges and universities, and some can be completed online. Taking these additional classes can help develop the organizational, curriculum development and assessment skills that employers look for.

Get Certified

After gaining licensure and teaching middle school math for a number of years, you may want to seek certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). The NBPTS offers a certificate for teaching mathematics to early adolescents, ages 11-15. In order to be eligible to take the assessment examination for this credential, you must have a bachelor's degree, an active teaching license and at least three years of classroom experience. You must also submit a portfolio of your teaching work for review by the board.

Other Careers to Consider

If you want to teach math but would prefer to work with older students and more complex concepts, you could become a postsecondary teacher at a college or university. Most professors hold a doctoral or master's degree in the field that they teach. Your day may be more flexible, depending on how your classes are scheduled, but you would still spend time outside of the classroom planning lessons and grading papers. The BLS reported in May 2011 that postsecondary mathematical science teachers made a median annual wage of about $67,000. Employment growth for postsecondary teachers is projected at a 17% increase, about as fast as average, in the decade from 2010-2020.

If you love math but aren't sure if you'd enjoy the demands of teaching, consider looking into a career as a mathematician. Applied mathematicians use advanced math to solve real-world problems in various industries, while theoretical mathematicians explore the unknown and search for new knowledge. While many mathematicians have master's degrees, you can get started in the field with a bachelor's degree. The BLS reported in May 2011 that mathematicians made a median annual wage of about $101,000. The top industries for employment of mathematicians were government agencies, research and development services companies, engineering firms and consulting companies.

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The George Washington University

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

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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?

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?

Colorado Christian University

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

What is your highest level of education completed?

Penn Foster High School

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

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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 State University Global

  • MS - Teaching and Learning

What is your highest level of education?

CDI College

  • Certificate in Early Childhood Education
  • Diploma in Early Childhood Education JEE.13 (Techniques D'ducation L'enfance - JEE.13)

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