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Often seen as a transitional phase of education, middle school is a pivotal moment in a young person's development. Not only are middle school students beginning to explore more challenging academic concepts, but they are also starting to discover who they are and who they want to become. As a result, they need to be guided by devoted middle school teachers who have a unique understanding of this stage of life. 


If you are wondering how to become a middle school teacher, you may be surprised to know that there are specialized bachelor's degree programs available. This step-by-step guide will help you discover how easy it is to streamline your path toward this rewarding career. 

What Exactly Is a Middle School Teacher? 

Middle school teachers are educators who specialize in working with students between 5th and 9th grades. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most middle school teachers educate students between 6th and 8th grade .They typically work to expand upon the fundamental knowledge and skills learned in elementary school to help students take on more rigorous academic challenges in high school. 

Importance of Middle School Education 

Middle school is sometimes seen as a bridge from elementary school to high school. These formative years have a significant impact on a child's academic, social and emotional development, and middle school teachers must serve as a guide as they introduce more complex topics and help students adjust to this new level of learning. 

Skills Required for Middle School Teaching 

Teachers of Tomorrow reports some of the most critical skills that middle school teachers must develop include: 

  • Communication Skills — Middle school teachers must be able to communicate effectively with students as well as their parents. They should rely on communication tools, such as digital technology, that this age group is most familiar with. 
  • Expert Subject Knowledge — Middle school teachers often specialize in a specific subject area, and they may teach the same subject across different grade levels. 
  • Classroom Management Skills — Middle school teachers may have to rely on differing classroom management techniques based on the individual needs of their students and the dynamics within a particular class. 

The Journey to Becoming a Middle School Teacher 

Middle school teachers typically need to earn a bachelor's degree to teach in a classroom. In addition, if they intend to work in a public school district, they will have to earn a teacher certification. 

Earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Education 

Those who want to teach in middle school will need to earn a bachelor's degree in education. An education bachelor's degree program is designed to provide aspiring teachers with a universal foundation of the field of education as well as an in-depth understanding of the best classroom management techniques and learning strategies. Although a bachelor's degree in education can help you launch your career, a Bachelor of Science in Middle School Education will allow you to focus specifically on this transitional learning level. 

Gaining Classroom Training Experience 

In addition to earning your bachelor's degree, you also will want to gain experience working in the classroom. As part of your degree program, you will be required to complete observational hours, which allow you to develop a better understanding of what teachers do on a day-to-day basis in the classroom. After you have accrued enough observational hours, you will then be able to complete a student teaching program, which will give you the hands-on training necessary to launch your career in education. 

Passing Certification Exams 

After you have graduated with your bachelor's degree in education and completed your student teaching internship, you will need to pass the teacher certification exam. In Kentucky, all teachers must meet the certification requirements outlined by the Office of Educator Licensure and Effectiveness. 

The Licensing Process 

All states require teachers to earn a teaching license or certification before they can begin working on their own in the classroom. While the licensing process may be similar from one state to the next, the specific requirements may vary slightly. 

Steps to Obtain a Teaching License 

Typically, you must complete the following steps to obtain a teaching license: 

  • Complete a bachelor's degree program. 
  • Complete observational hours, student teaching hours or a teacher preparation program. 
  • Pass certification exams. 
  • Submit a background check. 

State-Specific Requirements for Licenses 

Each state has its own specific requirements to earn a teaching license. In Kentucky (where University of the Cumberlands is located), those looking to earn a teacher certification must: 

  • Complete a bachelor's degree program. 
  • Complete a teacher preparation program. 
  • Pass the initial Praxis exam for each area of certification. 
  • Complete the Initial Certification process. 

Specializing as a Middle School Teacher 

Though elementary school teachers often work to develop a broad understanding of the core subject areas, including English and language arts, social studies, science, reading and math, middle school teachers often specialize in one or two subject areas. 

Choosing Your Subject Specialization 

While you are earning your bachelor's degree, you may be able to begin personalizing your degree program to align with the subject that you want to specialize in. Per Cudoo, these are some factors you should consider as you make this decision: 

  • Choose a subject that aligns with your personal interest. Specializing in a subject that you are passionate about is far more rewarding. 
  • Consider the demand for that specific subject area. Depending on the state where you intend to teach, you may find that there are more job opportunities for subject areas such as science or math. 

Advantages of Specialization in Middle School Teaching 

By choosing a degree program that focuses specifically on middle school teaching, you may find that you have the competitive advantage in the job market. The middle school years are unique within the field of education. By earning a bachelor's degree in middle school teaching, you will have a unique skill set that other recent graduates may not. 

Job Application Process for Middle School Teachers 

Once you have completed your degree and earned your teacher certification and license, you will be ready to begin applying for middle school teaching jobs. The job application process for middle school teachers typically involves submitting a resume, filling out an application, attending interviews and showcasing practice lessons. 

Building a Strong Resume for Teaching Jobs 

In a competitive job market, you may find that your resume is one of hundreds for just one open teaching position. It's important to find unique ways to make your middle school teaching resume stand out in the crowd. You can build a strong teaching resume by: 

  • Including a personal statement that outlines your values and goals as an educator. 
  • Emphasizing your proficiency with the latest technology. 
  • Highlighting your degree program, which is catered specifically toward middle school teaching. 
  • Incorporating powerful keywords throughout the resume, such as hands-on instruction, cooperative learning and curriculum development. 

Preparing for Teacher Interviews 

Teaching interviews may be slightly different from traditional corporate job interviews. Prospective teachers are often asked to sit in front of an interview committee, which may include administrators, teachers and parents in the school. This can be intimidating, so it's important for teachers to practice in advance and prepare answers to some of the most common interview questions. 

Continuing Education for Middle School Teachers 

Middle school teachers will be required to complete professional development hours to maintain their teaching license and certification. In addition, there are opportunities to continue their education to advance their careers. 

Opportunities for Advanced Degrees and Certifications 

Middle school teachers may consider advanced degree programs or specialized certifications to further their careers in education. Some advanced degree programs in education include: 

Pursue Your Dream of Becoming a Middle School Teacher University of the Cumberlands 

At University of the Cumberlands, we offer a Bachelor of Science in Middle School Education degree designed to prepare educators to work with young people in 5th through 9th grades. In addition to providing you with a universal foundation in the best teaching strategies and classroom management techniques, this degree program also allows you to specialize in a subject area you are passionate about. 

Request more information about our online degree programs today.