Knowing Your State’s Teaching Requirements Is Crucial Teachers will always be a staple in the United States, and now it may be necessary for these individuals to obtain higher degrees than ever before. For those studying to become a teacher, it is necessary to take a critical look at how far he or she will need to continue his or her own education because requirements differ across the nation. Federal Teaching Requirements What many individuals may not know is that the federal government has little to do with many processes used within an educational setting from kindergarten to secondary education; this job is delegated to the states. According to an article titled “So You Want To Be A Teacher” written by T. Melendez for the Department of education published Oct. 22, 2010, most of the requirements for teachers are set up through the state with little federal involvement. “At the federal level, under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, we simply require that highly qualified teachers be fully licensed or certified by the state—but this means that each state determines its own requirements for licensing and certifying teachers,” Melendez wrote. In fact, Part I Section 1905 of the ESEA states that, in no way, can an officer or employee of the federal government “mandate, direct, or control” the state’s educational agency, instructional content, academic achievement assessments, curriculum, or program instruction. So what obligations do the state uphold? State Teaching Requirements The Department of Education’s TEACH program is an initiative aiming to make individuals aware of the teaching profession, and to encourage people to look into a teaching position. According to TEACH, an individual must get a teaching license or certification. In addition, it reports that each state requires teachers to have a bachelor’s degree, at minimum, and having completed a traditional or alternative preparation program. Each state requires teachers to complete a teaching certification exam, and possibly a subject-specific test depending on the area a teacher wants to specialize in. Finally, some states require new teachers to have some sort of mentoring as well. It is reported in an article titled “Which States Require a Master’s Degree for Teachers?” written by Michael Wolfe and published by Connected Ed at Walden University, that no states currently require a master’s degree before a teacher actually steps foot into a classroom; however, some states do require that he or she earns the degree within a specific time allowance, or if he or she would like to teach certain subjects. “Depending on what the bachelor’s degree is in and the route by which he or she chooses to become certified, the teacher may be allowed to complete the coursework after he or she has begun instructing students,” Wolfe said. “This coursework often leads to a master’s degree.“ Why Get a Master’s? Klisty McNaughton, a Clovis, N.M. resident and fifth grade teacher, earned her master’s degree in curriculum instruction from the University of Phoenix. “I did have my teaching certificate before I started my master’s,” McNaughton said. “The reason I got my master’s is because, in New Mexico, you have to get it within five years or so, or you lose your license.” According to an article titled “Change Education By Changing Teaching Colleges” written by Tom Watkins for the Press & Guide and published June 24, 2011, there is no solid data at the moment that demonstrates that attaining a master’s degree in education adds any particular value in a classroom setting, but there is one obvious benefit. “K-12 compensation systems make it lucrative for the teacher to obtain a master’s degree,” Watkins said. McNaughton said she would likely have attained her master’s degree if it wasn’t required by the state, but she wouldn’t have acquired it right away. The Bureau of Labor Statistics compiled a survey of the 2010 average pay rate for individuals age 25 and older who were earning a full-time wage and salary workers. According to these statistics, the average weekly earnings are $782 per week across the board. Once an individual obtains his or her bachelor’s degree, the median weekly earning rises to $1,038 a week. This is nearly a 25 percent increase from someone with an associate degree. If the individual continues on to earn his or her master’s degree, the median weekly earnings increases to $1,272 per week, which is approximately 18 percent more than a person with his or her bachelor’s degree. Ready to become a teacher? Talk to an advisor at an online college and get started today!