Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) career paths continue their boom in the job market and this growth has led to more student involvement in STEM and a greater need for specialized educators. In Texas, the demand for STEM educators is higher than the available teachers and this rising demand has created robust opportunities for people considering a career change and looking to make a difference.
The expansion of STEM is seen best in how it has fused with nearly every industry. No longer are these knowledge experts reserved for traditional positions in scientific or technical companies. Now all types of businesses across the globe are eager to seek out candidates with skill sets ranging from engineering to analytics and problem solving.
More students are studying the STEM fields at earlier ages. In fields previously dominated by men, gender diversity is also on the rise and more young women are expressing their interest in STEM.
The Houston Chronicle reported that “Of the 30 valedictorians and salutatorians who graduated from Fort Bend County's two largest school districts this year, nearly two-thirds of them were young women intending to pursue a career in a STEM field.” This increase in student interest is growing job demand for STEM teachers, while also tightening the requirements to find qualified candidates.
Skill Set Over Experience
In Texas, where school districts need strong candidates from the STEM field, knowledge and technical experiences takes precedence over experience in teaching. Many people are making the change to education and transferring their industry and technical knowledge over to a new career.
With the influx of technical workers into the education field, the state of Texas has developed further requirements for ensuring that candidates are both knowledgeable in their respective STEM field and are prepared for taking on the role of a teacher.
Navigating the Requirements
Candidates will need to have completed a Bachelor’s degree and hold a minimum GPA of 2.5. However in some cases, educators can be in the process of obtaining their degree while completing an educational program and even find work in high-need districts.
It is important to note that your degree does not need to be in education. Many STEM teachers have specialized knowledge in specific areas of science or engineering for example, but no experience in education. Candidates must complete an Alternative Certification Program that will prepare you for working as an educator. You can even begin teaching while finishing the requirements.
After a series of teaching regulations passed in 2016, the hiring process for new educators has experienced an overhaul. Potential educators need to pass a content examination. With new testing regulations and difficult testing schedules, Texas teacher certification programs can make it easier for candidates to complete their requirements and get hired faster.
Salaries and Demand
STEM teacher salaries range widely depending on the level of education and experience. The Texas Education Agency lists the state minimum salaries for starting Texas teachers with no experience at $2808 per month on a 10-month contract while teachers with ten years experience earn a minimum of $3808 per month.
These state minimums do not include districts and metro areas with higher tax funding or fields in demand, like STEM. For high-demand teaching disciplines, many districts offer bonuses to high level candidates, incentives for teachers are expanding across the state.
As Dallas News highlights, Texas lawmakers are continuing to find ways to increase teacher salaries in rural areas to meet the growing demand for educators.
Why Become a Teacher
It is crucial to understand your reasons for becoming a teacher. Beyond the advantages of summer vacations, benefits, and consistent schedules, teachers take on the role for the impact they have on students. This can be a rewarding career for those motivated by helping others or if you have a strong desire to share your own knowledge and experience.
Other aspects of the job might seem overwhelming, especially if you do not have a lot of experience working with young minds. It is important to take the steps to research the position, speak with educators and those that know you best. This will be an important aspect in exploring what level of education might be best for you to work in.
If you have the skill sets of the STEM fields and the passion to become an educator, a career change could be the right move. Take the time to consider all the advantages and challenges of becoming a teacher and follow your first steps towards making a change.
Micah is the Director of Curriculum & Technology. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in British Literature, from the University of North Texas and a Master of Arts in Teaching, from Louisiana College. In his previous career, Micah served for 14 years as a banker and bank manager. For the majority of this period, Micah managed the Downtown Fort Worth location of Frost Bank.
In 2005, Micah finally surrendered to his true calling to be an educator. After a brief, but fulfilling term teaching high school English at Flower Mound High School in Lewisville ISD, Micah went to work for the family business, training teachers.
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