Have you always wanted to teach or need a new career path and are thinking about teaching? It can be daunting to go back to school later in life, but it’s absolutely possible.
Am I too old to become a teacher? No. You’re never too old to be a teacher. As long as you’re able to do the work and have patience with the students, you can be a teacher. Becoming a teacher later in life can benefit you because you’ll have more life experience than young teachers.
If you’re thinking about becoming a teacher, continue reading to learn about what you need to do to be a teacher, and whether or not this is the right path for you.
Am I Too Old?
You’re never too old to become a teacher. Besides, it can be a fulfilling second career if you’re looking to do something different. Some people say it isn’t worth pursuing later in life, however, so this section will look at the reasons you should become a teacher and concerns that many people have.
Reasons to Become a Teacher
Teachers are always needed. As long as there are children, there will be a need for teachers. Many school systems don’t have enough teachers because they are retiring while the number of students is increasing. More and more teachers are needed. So there will almost always be a job opportunity for you.
You have life experience. Maybe it’s a cliche that older people are wiser, but it’s said often because it’s true. Your experiences will help you while obtaining your degree and while you’re teaching. As a student in search of a teaching degree, you will most likely be more focused on your work than your peers, resulting in higher grades. Your time is valuable to you, and you know that hard work will eventually pay off.
As a teacher in the classroom, your life experience will help you teach students. You’ve had more opportunities to meet people from all walks of life, so you will be able to understand your students better and integrate your own experiences into your lesson plan.
There are plenty of teaching programs to choose from. Whether you want to teach kindergarten or high school, learn in the classroom or online, there’s bound to be a program that’s perfect for you. There are also plenty of scholarship opportunities and financial aid available for adult students, so you shouldn’t have to worry too much about the financial aspect.
Not fitting in with the younger students
This is often a reason that people don’t want to go back to school to be a teacher. You risk distancing yourself from your classmates with your outdated references and not understanding the latest technology. If this is your concern, you need to think about if it’s really enough to stop you from pursuing a goal that will result in a career you might love.
Being set in your ways
Being set in your ways is another common concern. As a teacher or a student studying to become a teacher, you must be willing to adapt to whatever situations are thrown at you. New ideas and new processes for tasks you’ve always done will be presented to you, and you’ll need to adapt to them.
What if it’s not what you thought it would be?
A quick look at teacher forums online will show that many older teachers say teaching isn’t what they imagined it to be.
They will warn you that if you’re passionate about a subject, you won’t get to teach it like you want to if you become an elementary, middle, or high school teacher. Young students are often forced to go to school and have no desire to learn, which can be discouraging to the passionate educator.
Don’t let your concerns overwhelm you and talk you out of becoming a teacher. Have you always wanted to teach? Are you passionate about learning and helping students learn? Weigh your desires against your fears and see which is more important to you.
How to Become a Teacher
Becoming a teacher requires a Bachelor’s degree, although you might be able to teach preschool with just an Associate degree. You will need to research what degrees your state requires for each position, as it may vary from state to state.
- Earn a Bachelor’s degree. A degree in education should be sufficient for teaching elementary school, but high school will most likely require that you earn a major in a specific subject.
- Gain student teaching experience. Student teaching is required for all students studying to be a teacher. You can gather student teaching experience while obtaining your degree or in the few months after you graduate.
- Obtain certification or a license. Public school teachers must receive a certification or a license. Each state will have different requirements, so make sure you research what you need to have. There are alternative options, and some private schools don’t require certification.
- Continue learning. Public school teachers are often required to take courses to keep their teaching certification. You can also continue your education to obtain a Master’s or Doctorate degree if you want to teach in high schools or universities.
You can obtain your degree online, but remember that student teaching is a requirement, so you will have to find a local classroom to teach in. Teaching programs are flexible, so if you are still working or have a family to tend to, you will be able to take classes when you’re available.
What Should I Study?
The U.S. Department of Education has a website where you can learn what teacher shortages are in your area. You can pick your state, and it will show which subjects and grade levels need teachers. Keep in mind that this is always changing and isn’t necessarily a guarantee that you will find a position.
You don’t have to limit yourself to what your state needs, of course. If you are truly passionate about a subject and think you’ll be disappointed if you decide to study a different subject, then it might be best to follow your interests.
What Degree Should I Get?
If you’re not fully committed to the idea of becoming a teacher, aim for an Associate degree. You might be able to teach preschool after earning the degree. And if you enjoy the courses you take, you can decide to continue learning for the Bachelor’s degree.
If you’d like to teach elementary, middle, or high school, a Bachelor’s degree is what you should obtain. Remember that most teaching positions require this degree. You can choose to major in education or a specific area.
A Master’s degree will allow you to teach in colleges and universities or work in administration. With this degree, you will have better job prospects, and it should be easier for you to find the position you really want.
A Doctorate degree will allow you to research and change the education system and teach in universities.
While considering the pros and cons of becoming a teacher later in life, you should also think about the financial aspect, how long it will take you to obtain the degree, and how many years you want to work after receiving your degree. If you want more information about this topic, read our other articles here:
If you don’t see yourself teaching long enough to make good use of the degree, then you might consider substitute teaching as an alternative. It might not be as fulfilling, but it could at least give you the teaching experience you’ve wanted.
- Bachelor Studies: 4 Reasons Why It’s Never Too Late to Become a Teacher
- Learn How to Become: How to Become a Teacher: Teaching Degrees & Careers
- Teacher Certification Degrees: The Beginner’s Guide on How to Become a Teacher
- The Guardian: Secret Teacher: nearly 50 and going back to school – is it the right choice?
- U.S. Department of Education: Teacher Shortage Areas