Spotlight on the States: Five States for Teachers

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Once you have earned your bachelor’s degree in education and received your provisional teaching certificate you have some important decisions to make: Teach in the state where you earned your degree and first license or you can move to find the best teaching opportunities out there.

There’s no denying that some states are more teacher-friendly than others, offering higher salaries and benefits, as well as more opportunities and a greater commitment to education than others. When weighing your options, consider these five states as the place to start your teaching career.

Pennsylvania

Elementary and secondary school-level teachers will find plenty of job opportunities in the Keystone State, which specifically listed these areas as facing a critical need in the coming years. Pennsylvania is home to more than 1.8 million students and 3,000 schools in communities ranging from rural hamlets to the inner-city districts of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

The opportunities in Pennsylvania are more than just plentiful – they are well-paying. School districts here pay an average of $3,000 more annually than other states and teachers earn an average of more than $50,000 annually. Pennsylvania’s state budget includes a high level of funding specifically for early childhood education, as well as technology for high school students, which demonstrates a high level of commitment to students of all ages.

In order to obtain your PA teacher certification you must possess either a bachelor’s or master’s degree in education, as well as successfully pass the Praxis I exam and subject certification exams, plus completion of the application.

New Jersey

If high earning potential and opportunities for development are important to you, consider teaching in New Jersey. Teachers in the Garden State are among the highest paid in the nation, earning an average of $64,000 per year. Not only that, but demand is high – elementary and secondary level teachers are consistently on the list of the most in-demand professionals in the state.

Teachers in New Jersey can improve their skills and earn more money by participating in one of the state’s groundbreaking teacher development programs: the Highly Qualified Teacher Initiative and Teacher Mentor program. Those who want to teach in low income areas can qualify for grants of up to $4,000 a year to further their education.

Becoming a teacher in NJ, like most states, requires completing a teacher education program, passing the appropriate exams, and completing the certification process.

New York

New York has the highest average teacher pay of all of the states at more than $70,000 annually, not to mention plenty of opportunities ranging from small rural schools to inner city districts. New York has made sweeping changes to its educational system in recent years, meaning that now is a great time to get involved in a revitalized and energetic system.

Becoming a teacher in New York is slightly different than in other states. A bachelor’s degree is required, but instead of the national standards test the Praxis, NY teacher applicants must successfully pass the state-specific knowledge and practical skills tests.

California

Whether you want sunny beaches or snow-capped mountains, there is a place for you in California. With a population higher than that of Canada, California has plenty of teaching opportunities up for grabs. While the average annual pay is slightly less than some east coast states, at $63,000 per year, some incentives for teaching in high-demand areas are unbeatable. Qualifying teachers can get reduced rates or forgiveness on student loans, help with home purchases and bonuses of up to $20,000.

To become a California teacher, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree, a passing score on a basic competency test, and a passing grade in courses on the U.S. Constitution, English language learning and computer technology.

Oregon

While Oregon teacher salaries are ranked 15th in the nation, averaging around $48,000 a year, the state offers a very low cost of living – an attractive option to those just starting out. More importantly, though, Oregon offers fabulous opportunities for teachers, including one of the best teacher mentoring programs in the country. Teachers looking to improve their skills and move up the ladder will find a place in this Pacific Northwest state, as teacher growth and development is encouraged by continued education requirements.

Though these are some of the best states for teaching opportunities, every state offers something for teachers. Once you finish your teacher certification program or degree, take time to examine the pros and cons of all states and you’ll find just the right place for you to begin your teaching career.

This guest post article was written and provided by Melanee Franks. Melanee received her Bachelor’s degree last fall and is now working towards her Teaching certificate.

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