After earning your teaching credential, the next step to becoming a teacher is to find your teaching job. Whether you’re a recent graduate just starting your career or an experienced teacher looking for a new position, it is important to know the ins and outs of the job market for educators. Going about your search the correct way can increase your chances of finding a job and will optimize the effort you put into the search. Here are some tips to finding your teaching job:
Understand the Teaching Job Market
Everybody needs an education, and teachers at all grade levels and in all academic subjects are always necessary. Some academic subjects, like mathematics, chemistry, physics and foreign languages, are generally in higher demand. There is also a shortage of minority teachers and, with increasing enrollments of non-English-speaking students, the demand for bilingual teachers and Teachers of English as a Second Language (TESOL) is on the rise.
The need for teachers also varies by location. Regions like the South and the West are experiencing a large increase in enrollment, and need more teachers to accommodate larger student bodies. There are also high needs schools, mostly in urban or rural areas, which have difficulties in attracting and retaining teachers. For a breakdown of job vacancies in public schools by region and subject, visit the National Center for Education Statistics. The Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH), issued by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, projects the job outlook for teachers to “grow about as fast as the average” between 2008 and 2018, an estimated 13% in ten years. Across the country, public interest in the school system is on the rise and the federal government has increased spending for education. The need for highly qualified teachers continues to expand.
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Before you begin your search, there are a few things you must do. First and foremost, know the requirements of the state you are looking into. Remember, each state sets its own standards for teacher certification and you need to make sure you have the proper teaching credentials. Contact the state’s board of education or visit our state pages to make sure you have the necessary degrees, experience and licensure.
Get Your Documents Together
It’s important that your resume is as current as possible. Make sure your resume includes all of your educational information, as well as any honors, awards or distinctions you may have received. List all relevant employment experience, being sure to weed out any older, insignificant positions you have had. Include any experience you may have had as a student teacher, your certifications and licensure, and be sure your contact information is up to date.
Some employers require a cover letter, which should be clear and concise, no longer than one page. Tailor your cover letter to the specific job you’re applying for. A cover letter should always include your address and the address of the person to whom the letter is addressed. Include an introduction that cites the exact position you’re applying for and how you heard of it. The second paragraph should discuss why you’re interested in the position and why you should be considered. In the final paragraph, explain how your credentials can be verified (via relevant contact information) and thank the reader for considering you.
Some employers may require a curriculum vitae (CV) instead of a resume, so it’s a good idea to prepare one just in case. A CV should be around three to four pages (as opposed to a one- or two-page resume), and should include your contact information, an overview of your career, your professional goals, qualifications (including certification and licensure), educational accomplishments and notable achievements.
A CV focuses on your specific qualifications as an educator, whereas a resume provides a broader perspective. Also keep in mind that, in today’s digital age, many of these documents are submitted electronically. In fact, teachers are often asked to show proficient technological skills. Teacher Certification Map offers great information on how to construct an ePortfolio, a new and innovative way to showcase your teaching abilities and set you a cut above the rest.
Compose a Teaching Statement
Occasionally teachers are expected to write a teaching statement. This essay details your pedagogy, methodology, goals, standards and reasons for teaching. Make your statement as concise as possible, being specific and avoiding too many extraneous details. Also, while you should talk about your goals as a whole, try emphasizing the goals you have for that specific position. Discuss the importance of education, the rewards of teaching and how you hope to impact the lives of your students. A teaching statement is an opportunity to make yourself stand out, so make sure you present yourself as a truly passionate and ambitious teacher.
Compile a List of References
Most employers ask for a list of references, but you should only submit one if you are asked. Your list should include the name, title, employer, business address and contact information of people with a thorough understanding of your professional abilities, performance and experience. Supervisors, teachers and coworkers are the most common, and it is generally ill-advised to list family and friends. Make sure to get their permission before you give their information.
Every job has its own requirements for applications. Some simply ask for the documents mentioned above, whereas others have actual application forms. Read the job posting thoroughly to ensure you meet all requirements and adhere to all deadlines. Also, make sure you submit your application via the preferred method (email, fax or hard copy).
Keep track of all the jobs you’ve applied for as well as the responses you’ve gotten. Group emails together into folders and have all your documents stored in one place for easy access. Note the dates of each application you send so you know when to follow up and answer all responses promptly. If you haven’t heard back after a few days, it’s okay to inquire about your application maybe they lost or overlooked it. But don’t overdo it! You don’t want to become a pest!