Teachers? (advice needed)

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eran_rathan
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Teachers? (advice needed)

Postby eran_rathan » Tue Mar 06, 2018 1:34 pm UTC

Hey all -

Looking for some advice from the great hive mind.

I'm seriously contemplating switching careers from a professional engineer/land surveyor to teaching (specifically math and science, probably for high school or middle school). What sort of things should I know going into it? Is this a good idea? I'm 37, but it seems like a big switch to be making this late and I don't know how much extra school I'll need to take get a teaching certificate, plus the year or so of student teaching.

Are there teachers on the forum who might have some advice?


thanks.
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Re: Teachers? (advice needed)

Postby doogly » Tue Mar 06, 2018 2:42 pm UTC

What you need for licensing depends deeply on which state (and country) you want to teach in, and whether you care public or private. Do you know?
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Re: Teachers? (advice needed)

Postby Zohar » Tue Mar 06, 2018 3:06 pm UTC

I don't know about your current job situation, but from what I've heard from teachers both in the US and Israel, you can probably expect a challenging system to work in, comparatively low pay, and hard work. It also sounds like it has enormous opportunities for satisfaction. Could you reach out to a local school and ask to talk with some of the teachers?
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Re: Teachers? (advice needed)

Postby slinches » Tue Mar 06, 2018 3:50 pm UTC

You might want to look into teaching at a local community college as well. I know at least some have much lower requirements for certain occupational subjects like engineering and will accept teachers with just a bachelors degree and a few years work experience in the field being taught.

It might be a good way to try out teaching and find out if you want to pursue it further without investing so much in additional education and certifications.

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Re: Teachers? (advice needed)

Postby ivnja » Tue Mar 06, 2018 5:31 pm UTC

I have an unfortunate feeling that it isn't going to be as lucrative even as your current gig, and will come with its own set of challenges and frustrations. Former Landlady/Housemate is a middle school science teacher in Our Town, and she puts in a lot of time and emotional labor for her kids. I've never asked her what she's getting paid, but jobs.teacher.org shows the salary ranges for our district as low $30k - low $70k for middle school teachers and low $30k - high $60k for high school teachers, with medians of ~55k and ~50k respectively. Not that you'd necessarily end up teaching right here in town, but that's probably generally representative of the area. She also does have one of the many flavors of education-related Master's degrees (from Our University), plus a BS in a natural sciences field. If you'd like, I can get you in touch with her or pass along any questions.

I'd also suggest looking at the community college (or for that matter, Our University or the little university in Bigger City), but with the caveat that the initial pay will be even worse. I was a Lecturer I for Our University for a semester, and iirc I was paid $1000. I was something of a special case, because I was basically a glorified TA / Lab Assistant that the professor had to fight with his administration to get the position created for, but even if I'd limited myself to the number of hours the job description actually called for I'm pretty sure I was making less than minimum wage per hour. Nationwide, average adjunct pay is something like $2,000-2,700 per course. So if you do go that route, you may need to try teaching a course while still holding on to your current job...which I know would be super difficult with the hours you put in.
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Re: Teachers? (advice needed)

Postby PAstrychef » Thu Mar 08, 2018 5:07 am UTC

You will almost certainly be earning less, but you will have the satisfaction of knowing that every day you are changing people’s lives.
Most districts/states require a degree in education with a practical component, ie student teaching. Otherwise, the only way to find out is to ask, and check online. Private and some charter schools may have looser standards, but will also pay even less.
Also, teaching is one profession where there is still a huge union presence. I believe this is a very good thing, as is guarantees your working conditions, pay and pensions. (Disclaimer, my mom was local union president at the school where she taught for many years and was on the negotiating team for most of the contracts during those years)
No one knows how the pension issue will play out, but one justification for the piss-poor salaries is the (more or less) guaranteed pension after you retire.
It will take several years to get fully up to speed in a real classroom, so don’t worry if the beginning is rough. The problem with the short-term teaching programs now running is that people leave the classroom just as they are beginning to get to the serious part of the job.
There is a huge need for good teachers just about everywhere. Some places will even cover your certification costs if you sign a contract with them beforehand. You can take the skills anywhere and likely find a job.
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Re: Teachers? (advice needed)

Postby ivnja » Fri Mar 16, 2018 4:00 pm UTC

On the issue of pay, this NPR article came out today.
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Re: Teachers? (advice needed)

Postby eran_rathan » Wed Mar 21, 2018 12:19 pm UTC

ivnja wrote:On the issue of pay, this NPR article came out today.



ouch. that's.... a LOT less than what I make now (for starting teachers). given that I barely make ends meet now, a $10k/year drop in pay is painful. :|
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Re: Teachers? (advice needed)

Postby SDK » Wed Mar 21, 2018 2:19 pm UTC

slinches wrote:You might want to look into teaching at a local community college as well. I know at least some have much lower requirements for certain occupational subjects like engineering and will accept teachers with just a bachelors degree and a few years work experience in the field being taught.

It might be a good way to try out teaching and find out if you want to pursue it further without investing so much in additional education and certifications.

This is good advice. I'm also an engineer and switched to teaching a year and a half ago at a college. It's a hell of a lot of work. Between prepping for classes, caring for the lab and marking exams/papers, I'm certainly putting in more hours than I was at my previous job, often in the evenings when marking piles up. It's good, I like my job well enough, though I don't like it more than my previous job with engineering. It's a lot different and a lot harder than you might realize. I've got friends who teach in public school (both middle and high school) and they laugh at me when I complain... they're working harder than I am, and have classes strait though June (while I'm done classes in April - gives me some summer months to prep in advance for the next year).

So! Given that no additional education is required for college instructors, and the fact that you will certainly receive some on-the-job training programs if the college is halfway decent, you're probably best off trying for a job there to see if you like it. Being a teacher can be very rewarding, but it's not for everyone.

Good luck with whatever choice you make!
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