After earning your teaching credential, the next step to becoming a teacher is to find your teaching job. Whether you’re a recent graduate just starting your career or an experienced teacher looking for a new position, it is important to know the ins and outs of the job market for educators. Going about your search the correct way can increase your chances of finding a job and will optimize the effort you put into the search. Here are some tips to finding your teaching job:
Everybody needs an education, and teachers at all grade levels and in all academic subjects are always necessary. Some academic subjects, like mathematics, chemistry, physics and foreign languages, are generally in higher demand. There is also a shortage of minority teachers and, with increasing enrollments of non English-speaking students, the demand for bilingual teachers and Teachers of English as a Second Language (TESOL) is on the rise.
The need for teachers also varies by location. Regions like the South and the West are experiencing a large increase in enrollment, and need more teachers to accommodate larger student bodies. There are also high needs schools, mostly in urban or rural areas, which have difficulties in attracting and retaining teachers. For a breakdown of job vacancies in public schools by region and subject, visit the National Center for Education Statistics. The Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH), issued by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, projects the job outlook for teachers to “grow about as fast as the average” between 2008 and 2018, an estimated 13% in ten years. Across the country, public interest in the school system is on the rise and the federal government has increased spending for education. The need for highly qualified teachers continues to expand.
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Prepare For the Search
Before you begin your search, there are a few things you must do. First and foremost, know the requirements of the state you are looking into. Remember, each state sets its own standards for teachers and you need to make sure you have the proper teaching credentials. Contact the state’s board of education or visit our state pages to make sure you have the necessary degrees, experience and licensure.
Get Your Documents Together
It’s important that your resume is as current as possible. Make sure your resume includes all of your educational information, as well as any honors, awards or distinctions you may have received. List all relevant employment experience, being sure to weed out any older, insignificant positions you have had. Include any experience you may have had as a student teacher, your certifications and licensure, and be sure your contact information is up to date.
Some employers require a cover letter, which should be clear and concise, no longer than one page. Tailor your cover letter to the specific job you’re applying for. A cover letter should always include your address and the address of the person to whom the letter is addressed. Include an introduction that cites the exact position you’re applying for and how you heard of it. The second paragraph should discuss why you’re interested in the position and why you should be considered. In the final paragraph, explain how your credentials can be verified (via relevant contact information) and thank the reader for considering you.
Some employers may require a curriculum vitae (CV) instead of a resume, so it’s a good idea to prepare one just in case. A CV should be around three to four pages (as opposed to a one- or two-page resume), and should include your contact information, an overview of your career, your professional goals, qualifications (including certification and licensure), educational accomplishments and notable achievements.
A CV focuses on your specific qualifications as an educator, whereas a resume provides a broader perspective. Also keep in mind that, in today’s digital age, many of these documents are submitted electronically. In fact, teachers are often asked to show proficient technological skills. Teacher Certification Map offers great information on how to construct an ePortfolio, a new and innovative way to showcase your teaching abilities and set you a cut above the rest.
Compose a Teaching Statement
Occasionally teachers are expected to write a teaching statement. This essay details your pedagogy, methodology, goals, standards and reasons for teaching. Make your statement as concise as possible, being specific and avoiding too many extraneous details. Also, while you should talk about your goals as a whole, try emphasizing the goals you have for that specific position. Discuss the importance of education, the rewards of teaching and how you hope to impact the lives of your students. A teaching statement is an opportunity to make yourself stand out, so make sure you present yourself as a truly passionate and ambitious teacher.
Compile a List of References
Most employers ask for a list of references, but you should only submit one if you are asked. Your list should include the name, title, employer, business address and contact information of people with a thorough understanding of your professional abilities, performance and experience. Supervisors, teachers and coworkers are the most common, and it is generally ill advised to list family and friends. Make sure to get their permission before you give their information.
Finding a job can be intimidating, no matter what your profession is. But knowing where to look can make your job search much easier.
Regional School Districts/Boards of Education
This is usually the first place to start because these organizations have the most comprehensive and authoritative information on job vacancies within their areas. This information is often on the school board’s website, as well as the district’s hiring practices, application requirements and any job fairs that are in the area. For easy reference, our state pages list the contact information of each state’s board of education, though for individual school districts, you should be able to find the information fairly quickly through any search engine.
Many nonprofit educational organizations offer teaching positions to recent college graduates. Often, these programs will ease the transition into a teaching career by providing experience, financial assistance, and support for continuing education and certification. Teach For America is one organization that helps get teachers into high needs schools. Teach For All, AmeriCorps. and Teach & Inspire are similar organizations. Many states have their own organizations, such as NYC Teaching Fellows, DC Teaching Fellows, Teach Kentucky and many others. These programs ensure temporary job placement, however, acceptance is extremely competitive. In 2009, Teach For America accepted only 4,100 of 35,000 applicants.
Job fairs are excellent networking tools to meet potential employers and make connections with other current and aspiring teachers who can share their resources. Job fairs allow you to find open positions, learn about hiring practices and refine your application documents. You should always bring copies of your resume and spend as much time as possible at the event. Dress appropriately to greet potential employers and hand out your resume to as many people as you can. Be sure to collect business cards and contact information. You can generally find job fairs through a quick query on any search engine or through your local education boards. Websites like WantToTeach.com also compile lists of such events from all over the nation onto one page.
The Internet is a great tool to find job postings. Websites like Craigslist or Monster post a wide spectrum of available jobs, so searching for teaching jobs on those sites can be. However, many niche databases lists jobs specifically in education and can be a wonderful resource for your job search. Some of these sites charge a membership fee, but many are either open to the public or offer free membership. Here are some extremely useful resources that only post educational positions, thus helping narrow your search:
Every job has its own requirements for applications. Some simply ask for the documents mentioned above, whereas others have actual application forms. Read the job posting thoroughly to ensure you meet all requirements and adhere to all deadlines. Also, make sure you submit your application via the preferred method (email, fax or hard copy).
Keep track of all the jobs you’ve applied for as well as the responses you’ve gottten. Group emails together into folders and have all your documents stored in one place for easy access. Note the dates of each application you send so you know when to follow up and answer all responses promptly. If you haven’t heard back after a few days, it’s okay to inquire about your application maybe they lost or overlooked it. But don’t overdo it! You don’t want to become a pest!