“Back in 1975, more than one-fifth (22%) of college students majored in education — a higher share than any other major. By 2015, though, fewer than one in 10 Americans pursuing higher education devoted their studies to education,” according to Marketwatch’s Jason Passy. The call to teach is not being answered by nearly as many people as needed, causing a shortage in every state, including Alabama.
While traditional teaching positions are in high demand, specializations in the field are also very necessary. Districts have even begun to offer signing bonuses to teachers willing to take on some of the specializations that are more high need than others. These areas include special education, teacher leaders, early childhood, high school social sciences and high school physical education, among others. Whether you are a high school student weighing your options for careers and colleges or a veteran teacher looking to make a change, one of these areas of high need might be for you!
High-Demand Teaching Specializations
As a special education teacher, you would work with a variety of students with a range of disabilities. You would be responsible for not only academic strategies and curriculum, but also often life skills, social skills and communication. We are seeing more of a push for social emotional health lessons in many general education settings, but teaching these skills is crucial for students with a range of disabilities. Often, the schedules in these classes are split into academic blocks and life skill blocks. Many of the life skills lessons focus on teaching students how to live and work within a community.
While some of these special education teaching positions may require extra certification and training, they are some of the most rewarding positions in education! All the special education teachers that I have had the pleasure to work with have such heart and dedication to their students. They are in it to make education fun, engaging and lively, and they will do whatever they can to make sure their students enjoy each and every day at school!
Where in the world would we be without teacher leaders? As a brand-new teacher, I had no idea how much I would depend on specialists and veteran teachers for advice and assistance during my first year in the classroom. I was lucky to be surrounded by educators who had been in my position before and survived! They guided me through my first parent-teacher conferences, helped me prepare for state testing and showed me what it means to have an organized classroom. Now, years later, I still quote a few of those teacher leaders to younger teachers that I mentor.
I find that teachers are leaving the profession earlier and earlier in their careers, causing them to miss out on gaining the qualifications and experience necessary to serve in teacher leadership roles. We need teachers in these positions who have the capability to create and share engaging lessons and serve as mentors who can guide our new educators through their first few years so that we can impact the retention rate and keep teachers in their classrooms!
The need for early childhood educators is also in high demand. In the earliest years of education, children learn valuable lessons in social skills, communication and discipline, in addition to vital academic curriculum that will serve as the backbone of learning for years to come. Early childhood educators provide a baseline of understanding for students, and they also get to experience some of the most fun times in a child’s life. They have a big job, and that means they are in high demand!
PE teachers are a definite need in many different states, including Alabama. Physical education teachers play a very important role in helping students understand the value of being active. Students need to learn at an early age that nutrition, physical activity and self-care are all parts of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Some of the skills taught in physical education classes will stick with students for the rest of their lives. With engaging and exciting lessons, PE teachers can help students remember how to make healthy food choices and how to exercise carefully and effectively. It is also common for PE teachers to be coaches, especially at the secondary level. A state like Alabama, with its reputation for high school and college sports, needs teachers who are passionate about encouraging students to live a healthy lifestyle.
Math and Science
High schools are looking for math and science teachers who can enhance their STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) programs. Social sciences, including economics, history, politics, psychology and geography, are also in high demand. Some of these high-needs positions require additional certification and training. In order to maintain a teaching certificate, you must complete a program and pass the necessary examinations.
Get Your Specialization at UWA Online
The University of West Alabama offers many programs that can prepare you for a successful career in many different fields of education. UWA Online has several programs that are affordable and 100% online, so you can work toward your goals without disrupting your normal schedule.
- B.S. Early Childhood Development: This program is for individuals who are looking for roles like childcare center directors, preschool teachers, child care providers and program administrators for early childhood programs.
- B.S. Special Education – Collaborative Teacher, K-6/6-12: This program will help prepare teachers for careers in special education.
- Ed.S. Teacher Leader: Advance as an expert teacher and improve the lives of your students with improved instructional practices and knowledge. Topics in this program include assessment, mentoring strategies, curriculum, research and more.
- Alternative Class A Programs in Physical Education and Mathematics: These programs help prepare teachers to further their experience levels and become master’s-level teaching certified in specific subject areas.
Being an educator takes hard work, determination, drive, flexibility and so much more. All strong educators believe in becoming lifelong learners themselves to demonstrate this practice to their students and colleagues. I remember when I started on my master’s degree, my fifth graders were so excited for me. A few of them even said they knew they wanted to travel down a similar path, too! Imagine what it would do for our students if we continued our learning, challenged ourselves by taking high demand positions and helped empower our students to always learn, grow and succeed. I challenge you to take these positions and programs into consideration because we can always strive to grow for our students!