If you love mathematics, you know it's not just about the numbers. Math skills translate into lifelong analytical skills—skills that are essential to addressing the greatest challenges of our day in fields as diverse as technology, engineering and science. If you get excited about problem solving and want to pass your knowledge and eagerness on to future generations, a career in math education, is waiting for you.
By teaching math at the middle and high school levels, you'll help students understand mathematical structures, conjecture and verify solutions, think hypothetically, and comprehend cause and effect.
By middle school, the math curriculum teaches more algebra and geometry, which are crucial stepping stones to higher math and logic studies. At the high school level, you'll teach a broader range of math skills, including advanced algebra, geometry, statistics, probability, trigonometry and pre-calculus. Other typical duties include the following:
- Preparing lesson plans, and grading homework, tests and quizzes
- Compiling notes and delivering engaging, coherent lectures
- Accumulating specialized materials for outside reading and homework
- Coaching teens and young adults individually and in group settings
- Studying and utilizing the most appropriate learning strategies
- Engaging the class in stimulating discussions
- Conducting research and publishing your findings
A typical day for a middle or high school math teacher can include anything from demonstrating how to formulate algebraic equations to testing geometry proofs. There are various methods available to teach math today, including interactive learning, textbooks, workbooks and group exercises.
- In addition to lectures and demonstrations, math teachers may also incorporate hands-on activities into your teaching strategy.
- If your class is learning about probability, you might have them break into pairs, throw dice and compute the odds.
- Or you may have students go out into the hallways and compute the total cubic space of their lockers. More and more, math teachers are incorporating real-life math into their curricula.
How a Does Math Teacher Salary Add Up?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2014-15 Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median national annual salary for postsecondary teachers is $68,970. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.
Because math teachers are in high demand, a career in teaching mathematics offers strong job security. As a public school teacher, you'll also enjoy comprehensive benefits packages and extensive summer vacations. Another benefit offered to aspiring secondary-school math teachers is the student loan forgiveness program.
What Kind of Education Do I Need?
To begin teaching math in a public secondary school, you'll need a bachelor's degree or higher in mathematics, in addition to completing your teacher certification requirements.
Math teachers are some of the most sought-after educators in the country. Due to a nationwide shortage of qualified teachers in the field, many states now offer alternative teaching certification programs that place math graduates in the classroom as they work toward completing a degree in education.
If you already have a bachelor's in mathematical science, you have several options. You can choose to complete a fifth – year course in education or to pursue a master's degree in education, which some states require public school teachers to earn within a certain number of years.
Getting Certified as a Math Teacher
All states require public school teachers to be certified. Since state requirements vary, it is important to check with your state Department of Education to find out the minimum qualifications. Some states may even require you to continue professional development by taking supplemental courses.