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How to Become a Teacher: Building Up Your Teacher Resume Skills

Elementary school instructor working with students with iPads.

Teachers make an impact on the lives of children every day. They help students grow intellectually and emotionally. In classrooms across the country, teachers are shaping the lives of our next generation.

All teachers play a valuable role in today’s educational landscape, but their responsibilities differ depending on what and where they teach. At an American high school, a teacher might focus solely on one subject area, such as science, math, or English, and teach classes across several grade levels. In an elementary school, a teacher may cover a variety of subjects but teach only one class in one grade or age group. Teachers at private schools may focus on specialized curriculums, such as religious education in parochial schools.

Teachers educate outside the classroom, too. They can tutor students one-on-one at their homes or in libraries. They can educate patrons of museums. And they can also teach at businesses, training employees. The skills on a teacher’s resume can thus demonstrate experience in a variety of diverse settings.

Teaching can be a rewarding career path for those looking to make a difference in the lives of students, as well as those with an enthusiasm for lifelong learning. American University’s Online Master of Arts in Teaching program provides aspiring teachers with the skills and advanced knowledge they need to help students succeed and grow. For those who seek to make a positive difference in education, here are the steps to becoming a teacher and some valuable teacher resume skills.

What Does a Teacher Do?

On any given day, a teacher may:

  • Find unique approaches to conveying academic subject matter
  • Devise lesson plans
  • Research new educational programs or activities for students
  • Consult with outside education experts on innovative teaching programs and methods
  • Communicate with parents and schools about student progress
  • Grade homework and monitor student performance
  • Handle student discipline
  • Coordinate fun classroom events and activities
  • Help address the educational, emotional, and health concerns of special needs students
  • Review and respond to student and parent feedback

A teacher may also attend professional development workshops or teaching conferences and seminars. Writing for the Houston Chronicle, Luanne Kelchner discusses how elementary school teachers “regularly attend workshops and conferences throughout the year to stay up to date on issues in teaching and learn new techniques. School districts may require the teachers to attend training workshops during the school year.”

All teachers are ultimately guided by the determination to help their students learn and grow. How teachers choose to do this will reflect their own unique teaching style. You can become a teacher students will remember.

Steps to Becoming a Teacher

Following are the typical steps educators take on the path to becoming a teacher.

Earn an Advanced Degree

Aspiring teachers who want to work in the public school system or teach a certain grade or academic subject usually need to earn a bachelor’s degree. Typically, teachers earn bachelor’s degrees in education; however, professionals may still be able to find work as a public school teacher if they have a bachelor’s degree in a field relevant to their target teaching area, such as a bachelor’s in mathematics for teaching high school math. As always, strong teacher resume skills will help candidates stand out.

Aspiring teachers who want to compete for teaching jobs often need to earn certain teaching and educational certifications sponsored by their state, city, or school district. Specific requirements will vary, though, depending on where a person wants to teach, what subjects they want to cover, and the age or type of students with whom they want to work.

In some school districts or in particular regions of the country, there may be teacher shortages or surpluses, where there aren’t enough teachers in certain schools or geographic areas or there aren’t as many teaching positions available as there are candidates seeking them. An article from the Institute of Education Sciences Regional Educational Laboratory Program discusses how researchers for the Michigan Department of Education are evaluating trends in teacher shortages and surpluses throughout the state.

Aspiring teachers who are seeking employment in a district or a region where there is a teaching surplus may find that, because these jobs have become more competitive, schools are seeking professionals who have the strongest teacher resume skills. A graduate level education, such as a Master of Arts in Teaching from American University, can be the boost that aspiring teachers need to reach their goals.

Obtain Professional Experience

Typically, schools require teachers to have a certain amount of professional teaching experience or other work experience related to teaching. This can include internships or volunteer work as a student teacher, substitute teacher, support teacher, or tutor in a school. It may also include working with children’s educational or recreational programs, such as after-school initiatives or summer camps.

Aspiring teaching professionals in a bachelor’s or master’s program often complete internships or fieldwork to gain professional experience as well.

Develop Teacher Resume Skills

When applying for education jobs, teachers commonly find that schools and educational environments will be evaluating their resume to make sure they have the necessary skills. Besides being able to clearly present and explain academic and other material to students, these skills include:

  • Conflict resolution to address student issues
  • Lesson preparation and planning
  • Patience and empathy for student concerns
  • Leadership and management for guiding students
  • Imagination and innovation when crafting lesson plans
  • Collaboration and candor when speaking with students and parents
  • Delegation and teamwork abilities when working with other teachers and administrators
  • Willingness to learn and evolve throughout a school year and a teacher’s larger career

To further their career and increase the positive impact they have on students, professionals also need to gain additional teacher resume skills, such as certifications in other fields in which they may want to teach, competence in using new educational technology, and licensure for working in different educational capacities.

Teacher Salaries

A teacher’s salary can vary depending on years of experience in the role, school district, type of school, or district, city, or state where the teacher works. Salary is also a reflection of the education and skill level of the candidate.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides information regarding teachers and their respective salaries. According to the BLS, in 2018, high school teachers earned a median salary of $60,320 per year, kindergarten and elementary school teachers earned a median salary of $57,980 per year, and special education teachers at elementary schools earned a median salary of $61,960 per year. Additionally, the BLS reports that teacher assistants (professionals who often support a full-time teacher in a school or university environment) earned a median salary of $26,970 per year.

Future Growth of Teacher Jobs

The projected job outlook for teachers is strong. Increasing population numbers suggest there will be an even greater number of children who are enrolling in school in the coming years, requiring more teachers to teach them.

Additionally, the rise of charter schools, private schools, and new types of educational programs and facilities, such as online programs for college degrees or high school diplomas, also points to more employment opportunities for educators. Teachers who are able to quickly adapt to technological trends, gain new teaching skills, and cater to the unique needs and challenges of diverse populations will be in the strongest position to succeed and grow in this field.

Start Your Teaching Career

Succeeding as a teacher takes more than just adding skills to a teaching resume. It requires dedication, determination, and a passion for helping students learn and thrive.

A career as a teacher can be rewarding, but it is also a challenging and competitive profession. American University’s Online Master of Arts in Teaching program provides the teachers of tomorrow with an extensive background in the fundamental and advanced topics shaping education today, significant educational theory knowledge, and curriculum-building skills, coupled with a firm foundation in how to make an impact on individual students and educational communities. Discover how to make a difference in students’ lives today.


American University, Online Master of Arts in Teaching

Bureau of Labor Statistics, High School Teachers

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Teacher Assistants

California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, Teaching Credentials Requirements

District of Columbia Public Schools, Teacher Certification and Licensing

Houston Chronicle, “Tasks and Responsibilities of Elementary School Teachers”

Institute of Education Sciences, Regional Educational Laboratory Program, “Examining Teacher Shortages and Surpluses to Improve Equitable Access to Effective Educators”

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