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Five Teaching Specialties That are Always in Demand

Sep 10, 2010 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Columnist | 0 Comments

In the economic downturn, teaching jobs are not as stable as they seem. All over the country, school districts are slashing budgets, reducing departments, and making do with less. But some teaching specialties are always in demand, regardless of economic conditions—and if you’re qualified to teach in these areas, your job position is likely to be very stable.

In addition, it’s easier to transition to teaching if you’re willing to teach in a high-needs area or specialty. Some school districts will allow new teachers an emergency certification, letting new teachers step immediately into classrooms while working toward permanent certification. Here are a few teaching specialties that are always in demand. 





Special Education teachers

Enrollment of special education students is on the rise all over the country—creating a strong need for teachers who have the specialized skills to meet their diverse needs.

While some special education teachers work mostly with children who have severe mental and physical disabilities, many teachers work with children whose disabilities are relatively mild. You may work with your students on their own, or within the context of a larger classroom. A special education teacher will tailor the general curriculum to serve the individual needs of his or her students, providing specialized remedial instruction as needed. As a special education teachers, you may work at the elementary, middle, or secondary school level.

As a special education teacher, you’ll need state licensure, a Bachelor’s degree, and possibly a Masters degree in special education as well depending on your state’s regulations. You may need to earn a special education license as well as a general license to teach as well, depending on the regulations in the state where you live.

English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers

ESL teachers work with students who speak a language other than English. Students without strong English language schools are at a distinct disadvantage in classrooms within an English-speaking education system, and these teachers help them speak and write fluently.

ESL teachers are especially in demand in school districts with large immigrant communities. You may work in elementary or secondary education, as well as for adult education nonprofits, community colleges, or universities. To work as an ESL teacher in a public school, you’ll need a Bachelor’s degree in Education, a basic teaching certification, and a specialized ESL certification.

Math teachers

No Child Left Behind (NCLB) requires every public school classroom to be led by a teacher who is “highly qualified.” This means having a Bachelor’s degree and a state certification in the subject you’re teaching. Surveys show that in math, the demand is so high that it’s not unusual to find math teachers who don’t know their subjects well—because it’s not their area of expertise.

Qualified math teachers—those with a certification or degree in education - mathematics—are hard to find, especially in low-income school districts—but even wealthier districts are sometimes desperate. Lack of qualified math teachers has sparked hiring wars, headhunting from other districts, and large signing bonuses in some districts.

Science teachers

It’s predicted that as soon as 2015, the nation could experience a shortage of highly qualified math and science teachers of about 280,000. Across the country, experts are calling for higher wages and other incentives for science teachers in all school districts, particularly those who specialize in chemistry and physics. As a qualified science teacher, you may be able to have your pick of jobs, as well as higher wages on average than teachers in the humanities are offered.

Teachers in urban and rural school districts

Teachers in all subjects are in demand in low-income school districts within both urban and rural environments. Low-income school districts often present numerous challenges to teachers, including a lack of supplies and infrastructure support, cultural differences, violence within schools, and lack of community and parent support. However, teaching in a needy school district can also be particularly rewarding to dedicated teachers.

The Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program, offered by the federal government, is designed to encourage teachers to work in low-income districts. If you work in an elementary or secondary school within a qualifying district for five consecutive years and meet some other qualifications, you could have up to $17,500 in principal and interest paid of on your FFEL or Direct Loan program loans. Some school districts may offer other rewards depending on state and local support, including repayment of tuition required for earning teacher certification or a Masters degree.


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