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Is the Teaching Profession Right for You?

Janelle Cox

Should you embark upon the teaching profession? Whether you’re thinking about diving into the teaching profession or you’re wondering if your educational training has served you well, it’s a question you may be asking yourself. Let’s face it, the teaching profession is rewarding, but it can also be quite challenging at the same time. If you really want to know if teaching is the right career path for you, then you need to have an understanding of what it takes to be a teacher.

The Intimidating Process of the Teaching Profession

For starters, you need to endure a lengthy process that can be long and expensive. You will need to have a bachelor’s degree, complete a teacher preparation program (student teaching), and obtain a teacher’s certification and license. Some states also expect you to get a master’s degree within a few years, and take additional classes each year to keep up-to-date with the current information.  You will also need to get a background check and get fingerprinted. While teacher tests vary from state-to-state, you will also need to take at least two tests, which can run you about $700. There are scholarships, loans and financial aid, but that usually doesn’t cover teacher preparation exams and licensing.

Getting Hired

In some states, getting hired as a teacher is difficult. You have states like New York, with have very strict rules and regulations for teachers and the process is long and hard -- not to mention that the jobs are limited for teachers (in some areas). Then you have states in the South like North Carolina, where their rules are less strict and it’s much easier to get a teaching job (from what I have been told). Either way it is a process. The key to getting hired is to not to only nail the interview, but to a have a wide range of certifications, provide excellent references, and have experience working in the classroom (or at least with children).

You need to be assertive, passionate, and knowledgeable in your expertise area. You also will need drive, because for many prospective teachers getting hired as a teacher takes time and commitment. Many teachers start off as a substitute teacher for months, or even years before they get hired permanently. It takes commitment to search for jobs, send out resumes, and go to interviews. It takes patience, but is well worth the wait, because once you have your position, and then get tenure, you can sometimes have a job for life.

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Putting in Your Time

If you think that being a teacher is just working 8-3, having your nights and weekends free, and getting vacations and summers off, you are wrong. While all of those things hold true, teachers spend a lot more time then 180 work days at school. You must take into account the time that is spent planning, doing administrative things, or talking to parents before school, after school, at night and on the weekends. You’ll also spend considerable time doing extracurricular activities like coaching or going to school functions. According to research, an average teacher’s workday is about nine hours long, but can last up to as long as 11 hours. So if you were thinking that being a teacher was for you because of the short hours and days, then you may have to think again.

Having the Knowledge

Your main job as a teacher is to educate. It is to utilize the knowledge that you have and pass it on to the youth of our country. Knowledge must come first before you are able to present it to the students. If you think that you have a vast knowledge of a specific topic, or you are very passionate about a specific content area, or you just love to learn and share what you know, then teaching may be right for you.

Working with People

If you love children and are able to tolerate them for hours at a time, then you just may be cut out to be a teacher. If you are able to work well with others in a team setting and are a born leader, then yes, teaching just may be the job you were cut out to do. Teachers spend the majority of their day working with children, but they also spend time with their colleagues, team teaching, and working on projects and lessons. You need to be able to deal with people with all different kinds of personalities. Your role is not just to educate the students, but to wear many hats at one time. A teacher’s role is said to be that of a surrogate parent, guidance counselor, mediator, nurse, and much more.

In short, what it takes to be a teacher is a lengthy educational process where you need to put in the time and work in order to get hired for the job. Then, once you are hired, you need to have the knowledge, passion, and drive to educate your students. In addition to that, you must be able to work well with variety of people from students to parents, to colleagues to administrators.

Teaching is a hard but very rewarding job. If you think that you have what it takes to teach the youth of today so that they can be successful tomorrow, then go for it.

Do you have any tips or questions or comments for us on the teaching profession? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below, we would love to heat from you.

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.