Middle School Teacher Careers: Salary Information & Job Description

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Learn about a middle school teacher's job description, salary information and education requirements. Get straight talk about the pros and cons of a middle school teaching career.
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Pros and Cons of a Middle School Teacher Career

Middle school teachers are responsible for preparing students for the academic challenges they will face in high school. Check out the pros and cons of being a middle school teacher to see if it's the right career choice for you.

Pros of Being a Middle School Teacher
Average job growth (12% from 2012-2022)*
Family-friendly work schedule (holiday and summer breaks)*
Various work settings (private schools, public schools, rural locations and suburban locations)*
Ability to share a subject you're passionate about*

Cons of Being a Middle School Teacher
The lowest 10% of middle school teachers earned $37,390 or less*
A bachelor's degree and state certification are typically required*
Stressful work environment (disruptive students, lack of resources and standardized tests)*
Middle school teachers often work evenings and weekends*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Essential Career Info

Job Description and Duties

As a middle school teacher, you'll provide instruction to students in grades 6-8. The number of subjects you'll teach depends on the school; some teachers only teach one subject to several different classes while others teach every subject to just one class. Since middle school teachers only work when school is in session, they have a 2-month summer break and holiday breaks. However, most teachers work evenings in order to meet with parents, grade papers, prepare lesson plans, advise student clubs and attend faculty meetings.

Middle school teachers are responsible for improving student performance in specific content areas by implementing effective teaching strategies. Before creating lesson plans, teachers identify their students' strengths and weaknesses to determine which instructional materials, such as oral presentations and visual aids, will best facilitate learning. When students are struggling, whether academically or socially, teachers often conduct parent conferences to identify the problem and find solutions. Other duties of middle school teachers include supervising students during field trips and lunch breaks, disciplining students who break classroom rules and administering their state's standardized tests.

Career Paths

Middle school teachers have the option to work for public schools, private schools that are independent from school districts or virtual schools. Before choosing a career path, consider the advantages and disadvantages of each school setting. Middle school teachers in private schools often have more resources because of the school's ability to control its own finances; they may also have more control over their curriculum and smaller class sizes than teachers in public schools. However, private school teachers earn lower salaries even though they work the same hours as public school teachers. Middle school teachers working for virtual schools work from home and lecture, assign homework and communicate with students online.

Job Growth and Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), middle school teachers earned median annual salaries of about $54,940 in May 2014. The BLS predicts that middle school teachers will experience a 12% increase in employment from 2012-2022, which is considered average growth for all careers. Many teachers will reach retirement age between 2012-22 which will result in more job openings at the middle school level. Job prospects will be best in the Southeast due to teacher shortages, while the Northwest has a surplus of teachers seeking employment. Urban and rural schools will hire more teachers than suburban school districts. Middle school teachers with English as a Second Language and special education certifications will also have better chances of employment.

What Are the Requirements?

Completing a bachelor's degree in education or a subject area, such as English or math, is the first step to becoming a middle school teacher. After earning a bachelor's degree, you can apply for a state-issued teaching certification. If you don't have an education degree, you'll have to complete an alternative certification program that requires fieldwork and classes in topics including diversity, classroom technology and child development. Although certification requirements vary by state, most require passing subject-area and general knowledge tests and background checks. Middle school teachers at private schools do not need state certifications to teach, but they must have at least bachelor's degrees.

What Do Employers Look for?

The requirements for middle school teachers vary depending on the type of school they seek employment with. However, job postings for middle school teachers indicate that teachers need bachelor's degrees in education or in the subject they wish to teach. Employers also typically require state certification in a specific subject. Here are a few examples of actual middle school teacher job listings in August 2012:

  • A Maryland school district is looking for a middle school teacher with experience teaching math, science, history or language arts. Qualifications include an ambitious attitude, excellent work ethic and leadership skills. Job candidates must be willing to serve on school committees and attend faculty meetings.
  • A public middle school in Florida seeks candidates with an English, language arts or reading certification. The employer prefers candidates with three years of teaching experience and gifted endorsements, which requires completing five courses in gifted education.
  • A private middle school in Maryland is advertising for a middle school math teacher that is at least 19 years old. Although state certification is not required, candidates must have bachelor's degrees in mathematics or education. Prior teaching experience is preferred.
  • An Ohio virtual school wants middle school teachers certified in math, science, social studies or English to provide online instruction to students. Candidates must be deemed highly qualified under the No Child Left Behind Act. Other qualifications include knowledge of Ohio truancy laws, experience using Microsoft software and strong communication skills.

How to Stand Out in the Field

While enrolled in a teaching program, you can join professional organizations such as the Association of American Educators (AAE) and the National Education Association (NEA) to gain access to beneficial resources. With an NEA membership, you can receive the funds to form a community outreach program that will show potential employers your dedication to your community. Members of the NEA also receive opportunities to expand their skill set through workshops and conferences on topics including classroom management. Both the NEA and the AAE provide members with publications that explore topics such as teaching challenges, strategies and politics. Another way to beat the competition is by earning certification in subjects that are in-demand, such as math and science.

Alternative Career Paths

Preschool Teacher

If you want to teach but don't want to spend four years earning a bachelor's degree, consider becoming a preschool teacher. Most preschool teachers work in childcare centers where they must have at least a high school diploma and national or state certification. Unlike middle school teachers working in public and private schools, preschool teachers in childcare centers work year round with no summer breaks. Although the median annual salary of about $27,000 for preschool teachers is lower than for middle school teachers, the predicted job growth rate of 25% for preschool teacher is much stronger than the 15% expected for education, training and library occupations overall, according to the BLS' figures for May 2011.

Teacher Assistant

Teacher assistant is another career that allows you to work in the field of teaching without having a bachelor's degree. Schools require teacher assistants to have either high school diplomas or associate's degrees. Since the education requirements are low, teacher assistants earn low salaries of around $24,000, as reported by the BLS. As a teacher assistant, you're duties may include grading papers, supervising students outside of class, preparing lesson plans and tutoring students in class.

Middle School Counselor

Alternatively, you can become a school counselor by earning a master's degree in school counseling and then applying for a state-issued license. Middle school counselors help students set academic goals and teach them the skills, such as time management and organization, they will need to accomplish them. To create trusting relationships with students, school counselors need to have strong listening, speaking and interpersonal skills, as well as the ability to show compassion to students. According to the BLS, school counselors earned median annual salaries of about $54,000 in May 2011.

Popular Schools

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    1. Saint Joseph's University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS - Secondary Education with Autism Specialization
      • MS in Education - Special Education and Wilson Reading System Certification
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    2. American InterContinental University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Education - Secondary Education
      • Master: Education - Curriculum and Instruction
      • Master: Education - Leadership in Educational Organizations
      • Master of Education - Elementary Education
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    3. Colorado Technical University

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    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Management - Graduate Level Instructional Practices
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    Doctorate
      • Doctorate of Education - Higher Education
      • EdD Professional Leadership, Inquiry, and Transformation
    Master's
      • Master of Education - Curriculum & Instruction: Leadership
      • M.S. - Curriculum & Instruction: Adolescent Literacy
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    5. Penn Foster High School

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    High School Diploma
      • Penn Foster High School with Early College Courses
      • HS Diploma
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    Doctorate
      • PhD in Education - Curriculum and Teaching
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      • Ed.D. - General Education
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      • PhD in Education - Early Childhood Education
      • EdD - Learning Analytics in Higher Education
    Master's
      • M.Ed. - Curriculum and Teaching
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    Certificate
      • Education Specialist - Early Childhood Education
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    7. Kaplan University

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    Master's
      • Master: Teaching (for Aspiring Teachers: Grades 5-12)
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      • Master: Higher Education - College Teaching/Learning
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      • Undergraduate in Early Childhood
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Featured Schools

Saint Joseph's University

  • MS - Secondary Education with Autism Specialization
  • MS in Education - Special Education and Wilson Reading System Certification

What is your highest level of education completed?

American InterContinental University

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

Are you a US citizen?

Colorado Technical University

  • Doctor of Management - Graduate Level Instructional Practices

Are you a US citizen?

Concordia University Portland

  • Doctorate of Education - Higher Education
  • EdD Professional Leadership, Inquiry, and Transformation
  • Master of Education - Curriculum & Instruction: Leadership
  • M.S. - Curriculum & Instruction: Adolescent Literacy

What is your highest level of education?

Penn Foster High School

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

What is your age?

Northcentral University

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

What is your highest level of education?

Kaplan University

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

Which subject are you interested in?