What is a K-12 Teacher?

A teacher who is designated “K-12” educates children between Kindergarten and twelfth grades, anywhere between the ages of five and eighteen. Teachers are responsible for fostering students’ ability to learn independently, and for teaching them the information and skills necessary to succeed in the future. The majority of American teachers work in state-run, public schools, but can also work in private schools, religious schools, charter schools, or online. Small schools may hold all grades in a single building, but usually, early, middle, and upper grades are housed in separate buildings. Teachers often use the titles “Early Childhood,” “Middle School,” or “High School” teacher. In lower grades, teachers are responsible for teaching all core subjects. In middle and high school, because of the increasing complexity of curriculum, students have multiple teachers—one for each subject. Many teachers use the title of their subject, referring to themselves, for example, as a “Math teacher” or “English teacher.”

Degrees, Training, and Experience

The primary path to becoming an Early Childhood educator (grades K-3) is by completing a four-year Early Childhood Education college program. These programs give an overview of subject matter, but focus on techniques for conveying this information to students effectively. Education degrees culminate in a half- to full-year student teaching experience. For older grades, a four-year Education degree program is an option, also. However, other paths to teaching are available. One can pursue a college degree in the subject to be taught, then pursue a Masters degree in Education or alternate certification afterward. It is recommended that anyone pursuing a career in education have ample skill and experience in working with the intended student age group.

How much do k-12 teachers make?

Teacher pay varies hugely by state and by experience level. Generally, teachers are given pay increases at regular intervals based on years’ experience and level of education. Beginning teacher pay ranges from under $30,000 to over $40,000, and individual districts may offer a pay supplement. Individual pursuit of a Masters degree or Doctorate may increase a teacher’s pay by over $12,000 per year, and over the course of his/her career, a teacher’s pay may increase by as much as $20,000 per year. However, teacher pay is often under the state median income.

Future Prospects

A popular slogan among educators is “You can’t scare me; I’m a teacher.” Modern teachers face a host of tough, highly-publicized challenges. The importance of preparing a new generation of citizens to succeed in a competitive world market places a great deal of pressure on our education system, and teachers must meet the needs of the nation, the state, the school, parents, and students. Teachers are responsible for adapting ever-evolving education legislation and standards to the individual needs of children. Despite these challenges, Education is a sought-after career. The notion that it is easy to find a teaching job is outdated. Those seeking a teaching job should pursue as much education experience as possible, and apply to many schools in their search for a K-12 teaching job.