How To Get Hired For A Teaching Job
The Time Is Now
So, you have completed your teacher training. All of your courses have been completed, you have your diploma and certificate in hand, and it is time to pound the pavement and find your first job.
Or maybe you have been out of the game for awhile, and you are looking to re-enter the teaching profession.
And then there are those who are looking for a new teaching gig, but it has been so long since they looked for a teaching job, that they aren’t quite sure what to do.
Well this article is for all of you! After you read this article you should have a bit of a game plan with which to tackle the tough journey ahead.
You have all heard the reports, and at times they are varying in nature. There is a shortage of qualified teachers. There are no jobs available. There is a glut of inexperienced teachers. The pay scale is horrible and teaching is not worth pursuing.
There is some validity in all of the reports, but there is also a degree of falsehood in all of them.
Maybe we can clarify and de-mystify, and hopefully we can get you on the right path in finding your next teaching position.
A Variety of School Districts to Choose From
Statistics are a bit varied when trying to pinpoint how many schools and school districts there are in the United States. The following are estimates at best, but they will still give us a foundation for this discussion:
· 15,000 School Districts in the United States
· 97,382 Public Schools in the United States
· 30,000 Private Schools in the United States
· 6.2-6.5 Million teachers in the United States
With the help of some rudimentary math, one would surmise that there are many more teachers than there are jobs, and that would be an accurate statement. However, not all teachers are working as teachers, for a variety of reasons. Many have been laid off, or quit, and have not returned to the workforce as teachers.
When looking at the number of school districts in the United States, keep in mind that each and every district is its own governing body with its own hiring practices and its own set of criteria regarding eligibility.
Also keep in mind that budgetary concerns are different for each district and in some cases for each school. In some areas, private schools will pay a teacher more than public schools. The point to take from all of this is that there are a variety of opportunities out there, and simply because one school district is not hiring does not mean that a neighboring district is not hiring. Someone looking for work needs to do diligent research about the schools and school districts that they are interested in.
Are You Mobile?
The ability to travel where there are jobs is a huge advantage for those searching for teaching jobs. If there are no jobs available in your district, do you have the desire and capability to pack your bags and move to another district? If you do then your chances of being hired increase drastically.
This writer found no teaching jobs for two years in western Washington. However, within one month of applying in Alaska I was hired. A similar situation occurred when I was hired to teach in Cheyenne, Wyoming, after months of not finding work in Washington. The bottom line is that I was single and willing to travel; that fact alone increased my chances of finding a job.
While on the subject of Alaska….they are always looking for qualified teachers and for good reason….it is cold and isolated up there. They also pay very well, and often offer incentives to entice teachers to visit their state.
In fact, you will generally find that many isolated areas are always looking for teachers, so keep it in mind when you are doing your search.
- Job Searching: Five Tips For Success
Five time-tested suggestions for finding a job for all who are looking for employment.
But What If You Are Not Mobile, or Not Willing to Be Mobile?
Well, in that case, competition becomes rather stiff, and you had better plan on marketing yourself to the best of your ability.
As a general rule, the more skills you have the better your chances are of being hired. Do you know how to coach? Schools are always looking for qualified coaches in sports. Do you have a background in the Arts, or do you speak a foreign language?
One way to build your resume is to volunteer for activities, thus gaining experience. The first teaching job I got was because I had volleyball experience and they were looking for a teacher who could coach volleyball. Over the years I volunteered to coach basketball, baseball, volleyball, track and yes, chess.
The competition is tough out there, so again, learn to market yourself and learn to increase your desirability by learning new skills.
If there are no new jobs in your district, but you don’t want to leave town, then sign up to substitute teach in the district of your choice. Substituting is a great way of making yourself known to principals around the district so that when it comes time for them to hire, you will be a name that they think of.
- Peace Corps
Peace Corps Volunteers travel overseas to make real differences in the lives of real people. Apply online to Volunteer, find a local recruiting event, donate to a Volunteer project, or access teacher and student resources.
Job Fairs Are In Every State
- Teacher Job Fairs Search K-12 Job Fairs public and private schools, administrative teaching jobs, Fi
A valuable link in searching for job fairs across the United States.
Going to Job Fairs
I would venture to guess that every state in the Union has their own teacher job fair. Go online and find out when it is being held and sign up. This is another great way of getting your name out there, and as an added bonus you get a chance to meet face-to-face with many school administrators. Consider it an informal job interview that could pay dividends down the road.
There are also job fairs for overseas teaching positions, and that certainly may be something to consider, and there are teacher exchange programs that usually last a year or two.
One other avenue to consider is the Peace Corps. It is a two-year commitment but they are always looking for teachers who are willing to work in needy countries and do some good for mankind.
Should You Get a Masters?
No, this is not a trick question, even though many students believe a Masters increases their chances of getting hired. Remember that every school district is different, and also remember that they all have different budget concerns. Some districts may prefer to only hire candidates with a Masters; others may shy away from candidates with Masters because that puts the candidate higher on the pay scale.
I do not believe there is a right answer to this question. There is no doubt that a Masters will increase your pay, but there is also the concern that in today’s hiring world, you might just price yourself out of the market.
An alternative idea
Are you looking for a teaching job?
Public Vs Private School
The basic assumption among teachers is that private schools pay less than public schools, but I’m here to tell you that the assumption is wrong. As a general rule I would say yes, but for a teacher willing to shop around there are surprises that await you.
I worked for a Catholic school in Beaverton, Oregon, that paid more than the Olympia Public School District in my home town. I have, in fact, worked for several Catholic schools and my pay scale was always within 10% of the public schools in the same area. As an added bonus, generally speaking there is more teaching freedom in a private school, and less dependence on district standards and standardized testing.
And no, you do not have to be Catholic or religious to teach at most private schools. Private schools are looking for good teachers; that is their primary goal.
One other caveat to consider: oftentimes it is not necessary to be endorsed in a subject in order to be hired to teach that subject in a private school. Private schools often hire the “best teacher” rather than the teacher trained for a particular subject. In other words, you might very well be hired to teach science even though your endorsements are in social studies. I know because it has happened to me several times during my career.
Opportunities Await You
The bottom line is that there are jobs out there for qualified teachers, but it is also a tough market to enter. Your chances of getting hired increase greatly if you are flexible and willing to travel, and they increase more if you have a variety of skills. Rarely does a first year teacher get hired for a desirable position. Even in Alaska, competition is tough for jobs in Anchorage and southeast Alaska, where the weather is not so brutal.
Teaching is not unlike many other jobs in that you need to pay your dues and work up the ladder of success. Consider your first few years to be an apprenticeship, and do whatever is necessary to make yourself more attractive in later years.
Best of luck to you in your job search! Teaching is a rewarding experience, one that gives back to you each and every day. If you have the passion and desire then there is a place for you in the world of education.
2012 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
Mr. Holland is an eighteen year veteran of teaching and has taught at the junior college, high school, and middle school levels during his career. He has coached four different sports and chaired several clubs, and over the years has taught math, social studies, creative writing, history, and science in three different states. He is also a graduate of the Leadership Academy, sponsored by the National Geographic Society, and as such is certified to teach other teachers in Social Studies. Three times he has been selected as one of America’s Top 100 Teachers.