Pros and Cons of Becoming a Private School Teacher
Private school teachers can work at nearly any level of education, from preschool to the twelfth grade. Here are some pros and cons for the job.
|Pros of a Private Teaching Career|
|May only need an associate's or a bachelor's degree to find jobs*|
|A teaching license might not be required*|
|Faster-than-average growth for private and public preschool teachers (17 from 2012-2022)*|
|Can be rewarding to see students develop and learn*|
|Teachers usually get summers off*|
|Cons of a Private Teaching Career|
|Slower-than-average growth expected for private and public high school teachers (six percent from 2012-2022)*|
|Might require you to grade assignments and prepare for class activities on weekends and nights*|
|Requires a great deal of patience and some monotony with the material taught*|
|Can involve high stress levels if class sizes are big and resources are lacking*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Essential Career Info
Job Description and Duties
Private school teachers generally work a traditional 10-month school year; however, some professionals may teach during the summer months, in addition to the regular school schedule. Many private schools offer a preschool level as part of their early childhood education program. Private preschool teachers must prepare students between the ages of three and five for kindergarten and elementary school. Lessons are usually taught by a single teacher with the goal of developing social, language and math skills. Private elementary school teachers work with students in kindergarten through the fourth or fifth grade and are responsible for building a foundation of knowledge in basic subjects. Teachers can also prepare students for state-required standardized tests.
Middle school teachers generally work with grades sixth through eighth, building on the foundation created in elementary school to prepare students for the emotional, social and academic demands of high school. Typically, teachers at this level focus on a single subject, such as science, history or physical education. High school teachers prepare students in the ninth through twelfth grades for college or entrance into the job market. Like middle school teachers, secondary school instructors tend to teach a single subject, such as Spanish, music or art. Some may teach multiple groups of students the same material during the course of a day. In addition, middle and high school teachers often have after-school duties, such as supervising student activities and clubs, coaching sport teams and chaperoning special events.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for both private and public preschool teachers was predicted to increase by 17% from 2012-2022, which was faster than the average for most occupations (www.bls.gov). During that same time frame, employment of kindergarten, elementary and middle school teachers was expected to grow at an average rate of 12%.
Job prospects vary by region, but this growth can be in part explained by the increase in student enrollment around the country, especially in the Southwest. On the other hand, the BLS predicted that from 2012-2022, the employment of high school teachers would only grow by six percent. The best opportunities were available for teachers of math, science and English as a second language.
As of May 2014, the BLS reported that private and public preschool teachers earned a median annual wage of roughly $28,000. The 10th percentile of workers at this level of education earned a salary of roughly $18,600 or less per year, while the 90th percentile earned more than $50,800 annually. Private and public kindergarten, elementary and middle school teachers earned a median annual wage of about $53,000. The majority of these teachers earned about $33,000-$85,000 per year. Private and public high school teachers earned a median annual wage of approximately $56,000, with most workers earning salaries between $37,000 and $88,000.
What Are the Requirements?
Education and Training
Private schools have fewer requirements for teachers than their public school counterparts, since many private schools do not institute state licensure requirements. For instance, preschool teachers may only need training or an associate's degree; however, a bachelor's degree in early childhood development might improve your job prospects.
Kindergarten, elementary and middle school teachers typically need a bachelor's degree in elementary education to work in a private school. Conversely, high school teachers generally have an advantage by holding a degree in their preferred field of study, such as physics or history. In fact, high school teachers are expected to possess a deep understanding of the subject matter they wish to teach, so a dual major in education and their teaching subject might be preferred.
What Employers Are Looking for
Working as a private school teacher can be an emotionally and a physically demanding job. It's necessary to have strong communication and instructional skills. Creativity could also be beneficial, and patience is vital. In addition, you may have to spend a lot of time on your feet, and in some cases, you may need to lift heavy objects. Here are examples of what real employers looked for in April 2012.
- A private school based in Colorado advertised for an early education teacher who held at least a high school diploma, although a degree in early childhood education was preferred. In addition, candidates needed two years of relevant experience and the ability to lift 40 pounds. Individuals with CPR and first aid training were preferred.
- A private school in Illinois wanted a teacher for an upper-elementary class. Applicants should hold an interest in both education and the language arts, as well as history and literature. A knowledge of mythology, antiquity and classical literature was also requested. Candidates were required to hold a degree in the liberal arts field, although the school preferred applicants with a master's or doctoral degree.
- A children's academy with a Colorado location advertised for a private preschool teacher with a bachelor's degree in early childhood education or another subject. The minimum education requirement was an associate's degree in early childhood education. Two years of work experience in a similar position was required as well, and the employer wanted an individual with a Child Development Associate certification.
How Can I Stand out?
In order to stand out as a private school teacher, you may wish to earn certification or licensure, even if it isn't necessarily required by your employer. For instance, earning a designation as a Child Development Associate (CDA) from the Council for Professional Recognition or a Certified Childcare Professional (CCP) from the National Early Childhood Program Accreditation may improve your job prospects when applying for early childhood education positions. You might need to undergo observation experiences, complete training and pass an exam for this type of certification.
If you wish to teach higher grades, receiving your elementary or secondary school teaching license could help broaden your career opportunities as an educator. You typically must receive a bachelor's degree, complete a teacher training program and pass a licensing exam in order to receive your teaching license, reported the BLS. You can also receive certifications in first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibrillator (AED) devices through either the American Red Cross or American Heart Association. These medical certifications can help you ensure the safety of your students.
Alternative Career Paths
Special Education Teacher
If you would rather work with special needs students, you may wish to consider a career as a special education instructor. You must earn at least a bachelor's degree, preferably in special education. You can teach special education at both public and private schools, but you'll need to complete multiple certification and licensing examinations to teach in government-funded schools. The BLS predicted that this profession would experience a 17% growth in employment from 2010-2020, which was average. As of May 2011, the median annual wage for special education teachers ranged from $53,000-$56,000, depending on the level of education taught.
Teacher assistants work under the supervision of a professional educator. Job duties include working with students as a tutor, helping to enforce class rules and supervising students during school hours. Pay is low, with the median annual salary of a teacher assistant coming out to around $24,000 as of May 2011, according to the BLS. Employment was expected to grow by 15% from 2010-2020, which was about as fast as the average for all occupations. Most assistants only need to earn a high school diploma, although an associate's degree may improve your job prospects.
Librarians strive to connect people with the information they seek, whether they are employed at a school or public library. Most librarians work full time, and many employers prefer to hire candidates with at least a master's degree in library science. The BLS predicted that employment would grow at a slower-than-average rate of seven percent from 2010-2020. As of May 2011, the median annual wage for these professionals was about $55,000.