How to Become a Math Teacher

how to become a math teacher

Interested in becoming a math teacher but need help figuring out where to start? You’re in the right place! Many people are interested in a career in education but feel overwhelmed by the process. We’re here to simplify this process and help you understand how to become a certified math teacher. In this article, we’ll go over what math teachers do, how to become certified, and common career paths for math teachers. We’ll also discuss other topics, such as salaries and the skills and traits needed to be a successful math teacher.

Teachers across all subjects are in high demand right now, so if you’ve been thinking about a career as a math teacher, now is the perfect time!

What is a math teacher?

A math teacher teaches a broad range of mathematical topics and skills to give students a strong foundation in mathematics, problem-solving, and analytical thinking. Math teachers can work in public, private, charter, or specialized schools such as STEAM academies.

Types of Math Teachers

Teachers focusing on math usually teach at the upper elementary, middle, or high school level. Elementary math teachers focus on foundational math skills, while middle and high school math teachers teach courses on specific branches of mathematics such as algebra, geometry, or calculus. High school math teachers may also teach advanced placement or dual credit classes.

What does a Math teacher do?

Math teachers use state and district standards to plan and teach engaging, effective, and developmentally appropriate lessons. They also use a variety of assessment strategies to monitor their students’ progress. A math teacher job description also involves following state and federal educational policies such as IDEA.

How to Become a math teacher

Becoming a math teacher involves a similar process across most states. This typically includes earning a bachelor’s degree, completing a teacher preparation program, and taking required certification exams.

Earn a bachelor’s degree, preferably in Math or Education.

Earning a bachelor’s degree is the first step in becoming a certified teacher. Many math teachers major in Mathematics or a related field. Others choose to major in Education with a minor in Mathematics.

Complete an approved educator preparation program.

You must have a bachelor’s degree and complete an educator preparation program. An educator preparation program includes education courses and field experience in the classroom. Many colleges offer programs that can be completed while you work towards your degree. If you’re still in college, check your academic advisor for information on the educator preparation program.

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Pass your state’s required testing and credentials

To become a certified math teacher, you’ll need to take at least two certification exams: one for teaching practices and one specific to mathematics. In some states, you may also need to take additional tests covering general knowledge or basic educational skills.

Different states use different certification exams. Many states use Praxis or NES exams. Other states like Georgia and Florida use their exams like the GACE or FTCE. Don’t make the mistake of assuming these exams will be easy. Teacher certification exams can be surprisingly difficult, even for those with a math degree or education background. Still, study guides and practice tests can help you become familiar with the exam format, content, and style of questions. 240 Tutoring has study guides, free practice tests, and exam overviews for several math exams, including:

TExES Mathematics 7-12 (235)

TExES Mathematics 4-8

TExES Mathematics and Science 4-8

TExES Mathematics 4-8 (115)

FTCE Middle Grades Mathematics 5-9 (025)

FTCE Mathematics 6-12 (026)

GACE Middle Grades Mathematics (013)

GACE Mathematics (522)

ILTS Middle-Grade Mathematics (202)

ILTS Mathematics (208)

Praxis Middle School Mathematics (5169)

Praxis Mathematics: Content Knowledge (5161)

And many more!

Once you pass your certification exam, you must apply for certification in your state. This usually involves a fee, paperwork, and a background check. For additional information on certification applications, check your state’s Department of Education website.

Apply for a Math teaching position.

Once you’ve finished your teacher preparation program and passed your certification exams, it’s time to apply for jobs! One of the best places to find job openings is on school districts’ employment websites, but you can also check sites such as Indeed, SchoolSpring, or ZipRecruiter.

In some districts, you may be able to apply for jobs and start teaching while you work towards your certification. In these cases, you will be hired under a probationary contract and have a set amount of time to pass your certification exam. Remember, however, that you’ll still need a bachelor’s degree in these cases.

Tip: Try working as a substitute teacher while you work towards your degree or certification. This will give you valuable experience, and administrators are often more likely to hire someone if they’re already familiar with their work as a substitute.  

Helpful Skills for Math Teachers

Successful math teachers possess many of the following skills and traits:

  • Strong Communication Skills – Successful math teachers know how to communicate effectively with students and other teachers, administrators, and parents.
  • Ability to explain concepts in multiple ways – The most effective math teachers know how to explain mathematical concepts in various ways. To do this, you must deeply understand the “whys” behind mathematical processes and algorithms. Knowing how to explain things in multiple ways will help you reach students who learn differently.
  • Ability to connect with students – Successful teachers of any subject make a point to form meaningful relationships with their students by learning about their individual interests. Not only will this help you know how to motivate your students best, but it also shows students that you care about their lives and overall success.
  • Organization skills – Math teachers typically see many students daily. At the middle and high school levels, you will have several different class periods and may even teach different courses. Organization skills are key for lesson planning and keeping records of each student’s progress.
  • Collaboration skills – Working with other educators is a crucial skill that all teachers must have. Math teachers collaborate with other teachers in their department to plan lessons and monitor overall student progress. Some math  teachers may even collaborate with teachers of other subjects to plan interdisciplinary units or projects.

Common career paths for Math Teachers

Many math teachers work as classroom teachers throughout their careers, although they may move to different schools or grade levels. Others become heads of their department or even math curriculum writers. Curriculum writers may work within a school district or for outside curriculum companies.

Some teachers may move into administration roles such as counselors, assistant principals, or principals. These roles will require a Master’s degree and additional certifications. Others may choose to teach at the college level, typically requiring a master’s degree or a Ph.D.

Math teacher salary and job outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the median salary for math teachers is $61,350 at the elementary level and $61,820 per year at the high school level. However, this will vary greatly by different states and areas within each state. For example, math teachers in New York, New Jersey, or Pennsylvania metropolitan areas can make n. In comparison,95,000 annually, while those in nonmetropolitan areas of Missouri will have an average salary closer to $44,000.

Regardless of your location, the job outlook for math teachers is promising. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics predicts that from 2021 to 2031, elementary and high school teacher positions (including math positions) will increase by 4% and 5%, respectively.

Math teacher FAQs

How long does it take to become a math teacher?

This will vary based on where you’re currently at in your career.

  • If you are just starting college, you must earn a bachelor’s degree, complete an educator preparation program, and take certification exams. Colleges often include an educator preparation program and a student teaching internship with your degree plan. From the start of college to passing your certification exams, this will usually take about 4 – 6 years, depending on how long it takes to  earn your bachelor’s degree.
  • If you already hold a bachelor’s degree and are working in another field, you must start by completing an alternative certification program. Most alternative certification programs take about six months to two years to complete. Next, you’ll take the required certification exams for your state.

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  • If you already teach another subject, you will likely need to register and take the necessary math certification exam. This can be done relatively quickly if you are adequately prepared for the exam. Passing the required exam(s) will qualify you as a certified math teacher, but remember that many schools may prefer candidates with a math degree or background in math.

What is the salary range for math teachers?

The salary range for math teachers varies greatly depending on your location and years of experience. Teacher salaries can range from $33,000 to over $100,000. School districts often list their teacher pay scales on their website, making it easy to see if a job will meet your income requirements.

Teachers’ salaries are typically based on years of teaching experience, so your salary usually increases yearly. If you’ve taught in the past, this should count toward your years of experience.

Can I teach math without a math degree?

Yes! Many math teachers have degrees in other areas. A math degree will certainly help prepare for your career and certification exam, but it is optional in most school districts. Math teachers sometimes have degrees in a related field, such as statistics, business, or engineering. Other math teachers, particularly those who become teachers later in their careers, may have degrees in different fields. The most important thing is that you have a bachelor’s degree and are certified to teach math in your state.

Are there benefits to earning a master’s degree?

Having a master’s degree may be beneficial in certain situations. Some schools may prefer that their teachers have master’s degrees, and most districts have a slightly higher salary for teachers with master’s degrees.

You may also want to consider a master’s degree to move into other educational roles, such as a curriculum writer or head of department. If this is the case, you may want to consider a master’s degree in an area outside of math, such as a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction.

However, remember that a master’s degree may not always be worth the additional cost and time. While it’s true that salaries are higher for those with master’s degrees, it is usually only a small difference. If you plan on being a classroom teacher for several years instead of moving into a new role, it may be best to hold off on a master’s degree.

What certification do I need to become a math teacher?

The certification requirements for math teachers vary by state but usually require at least a general teaching certification and a math certification. The math exam you take may vary based on the grade level and topics you plan to teach. For example, in Texas, you must take the TExES Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities EC-12 and either theTExES 7-12 Mathematics, the TExES Mathematics 4-8, or the TExES Mathematics and Science 4-8.

Your college or alternative certification program will be able to direct you to the exams you need in your state. You can also check our free test series resources for articles on common teacher exams and free practice tests.

What other certifications can I get to advance my career?

Some schools or districts prefer that their teachers have certifications in additional areas, such as Special Education or English to Speakers of Other Languages.

If you want to move into an administrative role later in your career, you’ll likely need to earn a Master’s degree and take additional exams such as the TExES Principal as Instructional Leader.

Interested in teaching a different subject? Check out these additional articles:
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How to Become a History Teacher
How to Become an English Teacher
How to Become a Physical Education Teacher
How to Become a Science Teacher
How to Become a Music Teacher
How to Become an Elementary Education Teacher
How to Become a Substitute Teacher