Who is a teacher?

The profession of a teacher is one of the most important ones because all other specialties depend on it. Whether it's a doctor, a president, or a movie star, everyone starts their education at school. Anyone who has decided to devote their lives to working with children and has chosen the profession of a teacher must be ready for a difficult path. Firstly, this work is one of the most difficult ones[1], and secondly, in many countries, the profession of a teacher is extremely low paid. However, for passionate educators, the moral satisfaction and joy of communicating with children and teenagers are usually worth it.

Teacher's salary

Country/regionMin. salary/yearAverage salary/yearKindergartenEnglish language teacher (ESL)School Principal
USA36,500 USD74,400 USD56,850 USD45,801 USD108,125 USD
Great Britain31,763 USD69,093 USD30,902 USD39,954 USD62,174 USD
Russian Federation2,698 USD4,721 USD2,765 USD4,721 USD4,510 USD
Australia24,478 USD49,890 USD44,418 USD49,262 USD86,054 USD
Canada35,561 USD68,420 USD32,057 USD28,478 USD70,155 USD
Germany15,289 USD33,084 USD29,458 USD25,696 USD70,794 USD
France19,379 USD37,259 USD30,408 USD20,878 USD74,578 USD
South Korea1,711 USD35,637 USD17,098 USD18,407 USD40,329 USD
Hong Kong28,605 USD59,721 USD30,919 USD33,139 USD68,900 USD

The figures in the table are approximate.

Advantages of the teaching profession

  • Meaningful work. Cultivating young minds is a rewarding endeavor in itself. And the intellectual connection between the student and the teacher brings feelings of satisfaction and self-worth. It is especially pleasant to see the fruits of your labor when the student clearly understands the material and develops as a person right before your eyes.
  • Great influence. The teaching profession is extremely important. It is often the influence of the favorite teacher that causes people to choose their profession. The teacher not only explains the material but also builds character and inspires the child. Therefore, it largely depends on the teaching staff whether a person grows up self-confident and open or damaged and unsociable.
  • Respect and recognition of students. The teacher spends 180 days with students during the school year and becomes one of the main authorities in the life of students. Many adults fondly remember their favorite teachers and often keep in touch with them after many years. Seeing respect, love, and trust in the eyes of children are the greatest rewards for hard work.
  • Earning opportunities. Knowledge is expensive. Therefore, teachers in private schools and lyceums have high salaries. In their free time, teachers can earn extra money by tutoring.
  • Multitasking. The saturation of working days largely depends on the teacher, since working with children means going to theaters and museums, field trips, organizing school events and concerts. Teachers also hold parent-teacher meetings, attend conferences and seminars to improve their skills and share experience. During school competitions, teachers accompany their students on trips to other cities, while for coaches or choreographers, business trips to competitions are an integral part of life. Such a variety of activities helps the teacher to fully unleash their creativity and organizational talents.
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Disadvantages of the teaching profession

  • Long hours. As a rule, after a hard day, the teacher does not rest. After school, work continues from home. Checking homework, planning curriculum, and other administrative duties take up most of their free time. In some countries, the study week is 6 days long, which leaves only Sunday to have some rest.
  • Additional responsibilities. Often, in addition to teaching, teachers are engaged in other informal duties. For example, a teacher needs to be able to find an approach to “difficult” children, acting as psychologists for such students, and sometimes for their parents. In public schools (and not only there), teachers have a lot of paperwork. And during the pandemic, teachers were forced to adapt to the constantly changing distance learning programs.
  • Compliance. Despite the rather creative nature of the profession, teachers are often required to follow strict orders. They have to meet shifting standards, rewrite curricula, and compile reports. They often spend more time on paperwork than on teaching. Moreover, schools compete in various metrics, for example, the final test scores. This forces teachers to focus not on the knowledge itself, but on exam results when preparing their students.
  • Mandatory certification. It is common for teachers from abroad to take mandatory license exams at the beginning of their careers in a new country.
  • Modest salary. In public institutions, salaries can leave much to be desired. For example, the average salary of a teacher in Russia is a mere 300 USD per month. In the US the salaries are much higher, but teachers there say that they still have to work overtime to make ends meet.
  • Emotional stress. Being a teacher is difficult. They always have to deal with naughty and disrespectful children. At the same time, a teacher needs to behave tactfully, not to have a nervous breakdown. Argumentative parents are not uncommon and the ability to steer the conversation and avoid conflict becomes paramount. Stress and psychological tension often accompany the teacher throughout the career.

Teacher specializations

Specializations, as a rule, do not differ much between various countries. The main areas are preschool/primary/secondary/senior education and special education. To study in secondary/senior education, you must choose a core subject that you will teach. For example, mathematics, literature, history, geography, foreign language, physics, biology, etc. You can study to become a professor at a university after receiving a PhD degree and some work experience. However, there are programs (for example, Master's degrees) that prepare teachers for different ages, including adults.

When choosing, you should be guided by what you like the most. In this case, it is worth considering the shortcomings of a particular subject. For example, teachers of languages and literature have to check stacks upon stacks of notebooks with handwritten texts, which consumes a lot of time.

If you like creativity, then you can become an art, music, or choreography teacher, if you are into sports — you can be a physical education teacher or a coach. It is important not to prioritize the prestige of a specialization. You are more likely to become a great teacher if you love your subject and pass that love on to your students.

Another not widespread, but very significant direction is special education. Inclusive education is one of the principles of UNESCO[2].

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How to become a teacher?

To become a teacher, it is necessary to have an education — preferably a university degree. Though it often happens that people without special education become good teachers who are passionate about their work, while those who received such education, on the contrary, burn out and leave the profession in the first years of work. If your first degree is not in teaching, then you can always take additional courses or get a second education.

Secondary specialized teacher education

You can get a specialized secondary teacher education in colleges. As a rule, they offer programs such as preschool education, primary education, special preschool education, and additional education. For admission, you must pass a GPA competition, sometimes additionally pass entrance tests (for example, for future teachers of choreography, fine arts, physical education). After graduation, the studies can be continued in the 1st year of a Bachelor's program or you can start to seek employment.

Colleges, for example, in the USA or Australia, require an associate or Bachelor's degree. Community colleges in the United States offer preschool, elementary, general teacher training education, English as a Foreign Language (ESL), and more. For those who have already graduated, some colleges, such as McLennan Community College, offer certificate programs for future teachers. To enter, you need to know English at a high level and pass two exams — SAT and IELTS/TOEFL. In Australia, colleges are called TAFETechnical and Further Education. They offer vocational training, special preschool education, etc. After graduation, you can continue your education at a university or seek employment.

Higher education teachers

Universities generally offer teacher’s education in the following programs: Preschool/Primary/Secondary/Higher education, Preschool Psychology, subject programs (Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Geography, Mathematics, Physical Education, etc.), and Special Education. Students, as a rule, have internships in public and private schools, gymnasiums, and lyceums.

There are various ways of obtaining higher education:

  • Receive a teacher education in a specific subject in a Bachelor's program (usually takes 4 years);
  • Complete a Bachelor's degree in any specialty and enroll in a Master’s program at the Faculty of Education;
  • Completed Bachelor's and Master's degrees in any specialty (including teaching) and go to a graduate school to become a teacher/professor at a university.

One can also become a teacher at school through a special Bachelor's or Master's degree program. After receiving a PhD in any specialty (except teaching), there is an opportunity to start an academic career and teach at a university. The Doctor of Education degree (EdD), in turn, opens up access to managerial positions in education.

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Requirements for admission

Admission to universities differs depending on the country and program. Typically the following is required:

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Teacher programs from the best universities in 2020

#UniversityBachelor’s studies/ yearCountry
1University College London24,954 USDUK
2Harvard University49,653 USDUSA
3Stanford University18,491 USDUSA
4University of Oxford 33,876-47,467 USDUK
5University of Toronto41,636 USDCanada
6University of Cambridge28,127 USDUnited Kingdom
7University of Hong Kong21,915 USDHong Kong
8UC Berkeley 44,008 USDUnited States
9University of British Columbia38,666 USDCanada
10Columbia University58,920 USDUSA

All information must be checked with universities.

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What qualities does a teacher need?

A teacher is an important person in a child’s life. The teacher’s responsibility is to raise a confident and psychologically healthy adult. To do that successfully, the teacher must sincerely love children and have such traits as honesty, politeness, empathy, etc.

Patience and self-control are critical for a teacher, because often they have to deal with unfocused children and explain the material several times. At such moments, creativity can be a saving grace — a creative approach makes it easier for children to understand complex topics and evokes interest in learning. Everyone can simply read lecture material outloud, but only a good teacher can find a unique approach to each child.

The teacher is a leader and role model. To maintain order in the classroom, they must have developed organizational skills and leadership potential. It is also advisable to lead by example and demonstrate the qualities that you want children to adopt — for example, responsibility and discipline. Finally, it is important to build trusting relationships with your students, but at the same time remain an authority, since having a too gentle personality often results in children taking advantage of you.

Where do teachers work?

Teachers work in public or private kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, and higher education institutions. If you work in the creative field, then you can get a job in choreography schools, art studios, or music schools.

Many teachers work during the school year, usually Monday through Friday. In their free time, teachers check homework, prepare lesson plans. As a rule, teachers take vacations in the summer. School systems also include quarter breaks. In the summer, teachers can take vocational courses.

Some teachers prefer to work from home — online or offline. In the first case, they get a job in online schools, in the second, they work as tutors. Such teachers can teach subjects in general, prepare students for exams, or simply improve their knowledge to catch up to or get ahead of the school program. Online courses (MOOCs) are quickly gaining popularity. If you wish, you can create your own and sell them on online platforms — expertise from a professional is always appreciated.

Also, teachers can find work in corporate training, teaching company employees certain skills or transferring knowledge to them. The teaching possibilities are endless as long as people strive for education.

Famous teachers

Anton Semyonovich Makarenko was a globally renowned educator and teacher. He was the most influential educational theorist in the Soviet Union. Starting as a teacher of Russian Language, Painting, and Technical Drawing in 1905, Makarenko eventually became a school principal. Then in 1920, he became the head of a correctional facility for juvenile offenders. He wrote articles, reports, and books on the topics of teaching and the organization of education. Makarenko created a pedagogical system that influenced education in the entire world.

Anton Makarenko
Anton Makarenko

Maria Montessori was an outstanding humanitarian, teacher, scientist, and physician from Italy. Montessori developed a unique and effective system of free education, which is named after its creator. She strove to eliminate any pressure during children’s upbringing and believed in the inner abilities of the child. In 1909, while Montessori was still alive, courses in Montessori pedagogy began to be opened, and have since been attended by many teachers from different countries. The Montessori system is still used in many public and private schools around the world. She also participated in the movement for women's rights.

Maria Montessori
Maria Montessori

Jaime Escalante was born in Bolivia in 1930 but moved to the United States at an early age, where he became famous for teaching mathematics at Garfield High School in East Louisiana. Although the school never excelled in academic performance, Escalante's talent, hard work, and love for teaching were able to significantly improve the academic performance of his students. In the early 1980s, Garfield High School students managed to pass the state Advanced Placement exam, which brought the teacher national awards. Escalante's story was featured in the movie Stand and Deliver.

Jaime Escalante
Jaime Escalante
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