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Becoming a Teacher

For Prospective Teachers

Explore the Teaching Profession

Explore teacher satisfaction, salary, and other benefits or find a certification program.

Did you know…

✔ Teachers in the United States rate their lives better than all other occupation groups, trailing only physicians.

✔ The middle 50% of mid-career teacher salaries ranges between $60,000 and $100,000, nationally.

✔ Most teaching jobs have better retirement benefits than other jobs you can get with the same degree.

✔ There are student loan forgiveness programs and scholarships for math and science teachers.

✔ You can get a job almost anywhere in the U.S. or abroad as a science or math teacher.

✔ Behind every advance in medicine or technology is a teacher who left a lasting impression.

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Did you know… Teachers in the United States rate their lives better than all other occupation groups, trailing only physicians?

Percentage shown is the % of people ranking their lives at the top of the ladder* minus the % of people ranking their lives at the bottom of the ladder.*

Life Satisfaction

*The Cantril Self-Anchoring Scale

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Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey with a random sample of 172,286 workers, aged 18 or over, from Jan. 2-Dec. 30, 2012. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3.5 percentage points for the smallest group (physicians) but less than ±1 for larger groups such as professionals, service workers, or managers/executives.

From Cantril, H. The pattern of human concerns. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1965.

When considering a career path, you might be thinking about what salary and benefits you can obtain and your financial stability.

You might be concerned about whether the work will be intellectually and emotionally stimulating and the quality and predictability of your work schedule. You could be exploring different opportunities to learn new skills and acquire new knowledge.

Your emotional health also plays a big role in peoples’ quality of life.

When taking different factors into account, what professional career path would give you the greatest satisfaction and sense of accomplishment?

Day-to-day satisfaction

When asked to list all the things that make teaching satisfying from day-to-day, over half the reasons listed related to student interactions. These included teacher’s interactions with students, between student interactions, when students light up with understanding and watching long term growth.

  • Students: Relationships and learning: 55%
  • Work schedule: 15%
  • Teaching is challenging/scientific: 9%
  • Colleagues: 8%
  • Learning content: 8%
  • Autonomy of the classroom: 5%
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Did you know… The middle 50% of mid-career teacher salaries ranges between $60,000 and $100,000, nationally?

Teacher salaries are very comparable to other jobs you can get with the same degree. While base salary is a major factor in determining financial well-being, there are many other aspects that create the full financial picture such as time off, retirement benefits, health insurance, various retailer discounts, and loan forgiveness.

Teacher Salary Additions/Bonuses

Did you know most teacher salaries include income beyond their base salary? Teachers are compensated for duties outside the classroom including:

  • Coaching
  • Clubs
  • Special committees

Did you know… Most teaching jobs have better retirement benefits than other jobs you can get with the same degree?

Teaching provides you with many opportunities and benefits that differ from other industries.

  • Public school teachers typically have state supported pension plans for their retirement. In most cases these provide several times the retirement benefit of the typical 401K plan offered with most other careers.
  • Teaching provides flexibility in the summer, holidays, winter break, and spring break while other careers all full-time year round.
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Did you know… Student loan forgiveness programs and scholarships are available for math and science teachers?

Federal Loan & Grant Programs

Teacher Loan Forgiveness

  • $17,500 of Direct / FFEL subsidized and unsubsidized loan forgiveness for highly-qualified math and science teachers in low-income schools
  • 5 years of consecutive teaching
  • These types of loans are awarded to all types of majors, only the forgiveness is specific to teaching.

TEACH Grants

  • $4,000/year for undergrads, postbac, or graduate students
  • Available to students enrolled in a participating teacher prep program
  • Teach 4 years out of 8 after graduation or grant converts to a Direct loan.

Perkins Loan Cancellation for Teachers

  • A percentage of loans are forgiven each year for five years until fully forgiven – 100% forgiveness. 15% years 1 and 2, 20% years 3 and 4, and the final 30% forgiven year 5.
  • Teach math or science in high needs or low-income school

** Although Perkins loans have not been issued since 2018, students who have already received Perkins loans are eligible under the forgiveness program which will continue until there are no more Perkins recipients.

State Teacher Loan Forgiveness Programs

District Teacher Loan Forgiveness Programs

  • Many districts, not all, offer some loan forgiveness to teachers in addition to the federal and state forgiveness programs listed above. Information is usually found on the district website.

Want to know more about Federal Student Aid? studentaid.ed.gov./sa/

Here is a great article about Teacher Loan Forgiveness Programs https://studentaid.gov/articles/teacher-loan-forgiveness-options/ 

Scholarships are also available specifically for those who want to teach.

  • AAPT’s Lotze Scholarship for future physics teachers
  • ACS’s Hach Scholarships for future and current chemistry teachers
  • AAEE’s Jones Scholarships for future teachers in subjects of critical need and future teachers of color
  • Check with a teaching advisor for teaching-specific scholarship opportunities at your institution.

Learn about loan forgiveness, grant, and scholarship programs for teachers in each state here.

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Did you know… you can get a job almost anywhere in the U.S. or abroad as a science or math teacher?

The 2018 American Association of Employment in Education Educator Supply and Demand in the United States Report provides data showing that physics, chemistry, and math teachers are in the top five highest shortage areas in our nation.

  • Spec. Ed. – Severe/Profound Disability 4.68
  • Spec. Ed. – Visually Impaired 4.64
  • Physics 4.51
  • Chemistry 4.39
  • Mathematics 4.37

Considerable shortage defined as (5.00 – 4.21)

Teacher supply and demand by subject area

teacher shortage chart

Each dot on this graph represents a teaching profession with (M) Math, (C) Chemistry, and (P) Physics highlighted in red.