How to Navigate the Teaching Job Market: A Teacher Interview

by All Star Staff

Mar 9, 2018 | Careers, Interviews

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Caroline Zogas
High School Teacher: History & Government
York Community High School
Elmhurst, IL

Becoming a teacher was her dream, but she knew it might be tough in today’s teacher job market. Not all prospective high school teachers are as lucky as Caroline Zogas. She was thrilled when she finally landed her first full-time teaching job. “It’s teaching exactly what I want and teaching at a great high school about 15 minutes away.”

Were she an accountant or a web developer, her excitement might seem less justified. But as a newly graduated high school history teacher, her job prospects were looking a bit bleak for over a year before she got the teaching job that other high school teachers were coveting.

Disparity for High School Teachers

With the national high school teacher job market hovering at frustratingly low demand levels for the last couple of years, some high school teachers are jumping ship for careers with more promising prospects. “There are literally thousands of qualified history teachers who want jobs and can’t get them,” Caroline explains. “There are experienced teachers who can’t even get a single interview.”

I was a little over confident at first, so I did not try as hard as I could have. But eventually I realized that if you are committed to being a teacher you have to go and get whatever experience you can.

So as a recent college graduate with no full-time teaching experience, Caroline counts herself as one of the lucky ones to finally become a high school teacher and get a classroom of her own after a lengthy job search.

When she graduated from the University of Michigan in 2007, she foresaw little trouble starting her career as a high school teacher. “Everyone was saying, ‘We need teachers! We need teachers!’ but they don’t tell you they only need certain kinds.” High school teachers in science, Spanish, math and special education are in the most demand. Throughout the country, a new graduate can find a teaching job in those subject areas without much difficulty.

In places such as Hawaii, Massachusetts and many rural or inner-city areas, local governments are even offering additional perks to high school teachers in high-demand subjects. But teachers who majored in English or history who were planning to live a rewarding life as a secondary teacher are having a much harder time.

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Two Kinds of Teachers

“There are two kinds of teachers. One wants to teach for the sake of teaching, and the other is interested in a certain subject matter.”

Want a Job in Today’s Teacher Job Market? Be Proactive

To find a teaching job, Caroline was a substitute teacher at multiple districts in her area and applied to every job opening she could find. “I was a little over-confident at first, so I didn’t try as hard as I could have. But eventually I realized that if you’re committed to being a teacher, you have to go and get whatever experience you can.” And she did.

She flew off to Washington, DC for some real-world experience. She took an internship with a congresswoman on the Committee on Education and Labor and was able to sit in on meetings and set herself apart from her peers on her resume.

“The best advice I can give to anyone in this position is: be proactive!” While she was in DC, she sent out over 130 packets containing cover letters and resumes to the principals of schools she was interested in. She didn’t hear back from the vast majority of them. “It’s such a boy’s club kind of thing.”

Even if you find a job posting for a low demand position, it has probably already been filled. So fill out applications for jobs that aren’t even open if you want to be considered when that one American Government or Social Studies teacher job opens up.

The best advice I can give to anyone in this position is: Be proactive!When all is said and done, if you really want to teach high school, you can make it happen in today’s teacher job market. Just prepare by getting well-rounded certification endorsements and real-world experience.

Apply for a lot of teaching jobs—and keep at it! It was only yesterday that Caroline was planning on another year of subbing. And today she has a high school history classroom of her own.

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