Across the country, severe teacher shortages, especially in small towns and urban areas, mean trouble for some schools districts. Teachers with emergency or out-of-field credentials are commonplace in schools due to the teacher shortage. In some areas, many public school teachers have neither a college major nor minor in their primary field.
Due to growing student enrollments, high turnover rates and teacher retirements, education and policy experts estimate the teacher shortage will create a higher than average number of openings for teachers in the nation's elementary and secondary schools. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that between 2008 and 2018 the nation will need to hire nearly half a million additional teachers.
Special Certification Options
Because of the teacher shortage in specific high-need areas, you may be able to get a temporary per diem teaching certificate if you have pertinent education and/or job experience in a subject area. This will allow you to start teaching while gradually taking classes toward your permanent teacher certification. For more information on emergency and provisional teacher certificates, see our teaching certification article.
Subject Areas Affected by the Shortage
While states and cities report widely differing needs, there are some clear commonalities among the specialties most needed today. The national teacher shortage has created the severest demand for the positions listed below:
- Bilingual / ESL teachers
- Foreign language teachers
- Special education teachers
- Mathematics teachers
- Science teachers
- Urban and rural school teachers
Specialties that currently have an adequate number of qualified teachers in most areas include general elementary education, physical education, history and social studies. If you are interested in one of those fields, you may want to obtain licensure in more than one subject or another endorsement to gain an advantage when looking for a job.
Make the Most of Your Options
Because of the push to find qualified teachers to overcome teacher shortages, some school districts are offering unheard-of teacher perks and benefits to attract potential teachers. Higher paychecks, signing bonuses, housing assistance, employer-paid moving expenses, on-site childcare and continuing education courses are all offered in different locations throughout the country. Some districts have made hiring easier by streamlining the interviewing process and are even relaxing residency rules to find more qualified teachers.
All of this is in addition to the already great benefits offered to public school teachers nationwide, including comprehensive health and dental insurance, life insurance and pension plans.