Ask an Expert: Is Teaching the Right Career Path for You?

Question: I’m considering teaching as a potential career path. What do I need to know? 

Now more than ever, elementary, secondary, and special education teachers are needed to fill critical roles in K-12 schools. Newly trained and certified teachers are highly sought after, and teaching jobs are plentiful across the country. So how do you know if teaching is a career path that’s right for you? Here are some things to consider when exploring the option of becoming a teacher. 

What skills and interests are needed to be successful in teaching? 

There are many transferrable skills needed for teaching which can include communication, listening, collaboration, adaptability, leadership, and empathy. Teachers are life-long learners so having a passion for learning is a must. Those who pursue teaching often have a desire to make a difference in the community, are passionate about a particular subject area, and/or want to serve a particular population or age group.

How long does it take to become a teacher?

The length of time it takes to complete a teaching program depends on several factors – university requirements, state standards for certification, and when one decides to become a teacher (freshman year, junior year, after graduation?). At MSU the program can take around 4-5 years for a traditional student (those who start freshman or sophomore year) but there is also a post-bachelor’s option that is a bit more accelerated for someone who already holds a bachelor’s degree in a teachable major. Learn more about MSU’s program by going to the College of Education website.

Will I get a job? 

The job outlook for teachers is excellent, with a 95% or higher job placement rate each year (see MSU career outcomes for more details). Certified teachers can teach in public or private schools in just about any state around the country and are even eligible for teaching positions overseas.

What kind of experiences would help me determine if teaching is right for me?

Thankfully, teaching programs have many practical experiences built into the curriculum, which includes a formal student teaching placement. Before committing to starting a teaching program, one may find it helpful to seek experiential opportunities working with youth. Participating in part-time jobs or internships at summer camps, tutoring organizations, daycares, or other non-profit organizations may be a great way to test and grow your teaching-related skillsets. 

The good news is that teachers and mentors are everywhere. If you want to learn from those in the profession, finding someone in the field to talk to is quite easy. Did you have an influential teacher in your life? Reach out to them for guidance in your major and career decision-making.

If any of these things resonate with you, teaching may be a career option to consider. Be sure to talk with a career or academic advisor to learn more about options for pursing education. 


By Pepa Casselman
Pepa Casselman Career Consultant, College of Education