Teaching is always an in-demand profession, but the teacher shortage in Alabama is particularly troubling. Turnover in the profession is high and the retirement rate is steady. The employment of high school teachers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), is expected to rise 8 percent by 2026, but particular teaching specializations are in even greater demand. For example, in 2016 the state began its school year with a shortage of 93 math teachers.

According to the Marketwatch writer Jacob Passy, “Back in 1975, more than one-fifth (22 percent) 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.” Female college students studying education has dropped from 32 to 11 percent in the past 40 years. Forty-eight states and the District of Columbia report shortages of math teachers, alone.

Many areas experiencing teacher shortages are attempting to attract teachers to districts with the promise of signing bonuses. This was spurred by a 2015 report on the shortages called “Teachers Matter.” The study found that shortages are acute in the most rural and most urban areas of Alabama. The report also called for a paid teacher mentorship program that offers a stipend to senior teachers who mentor teachers new to the classroom.

Teaching Careers Guide

UWA's "Making the Grade: A Guide to In-Demand Teaching Careers" is a free resource to help you navigate the teaching jobs that are in high demand. Take a closer look at some of the most popular teaching careers with this guide.

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High School Specializations in Alabama

As previously mentioned, some specializations in are more in-demand in Alabama than others.

Special education

Special education teachers work with students who have a range of learning, mental, emotional and physical disabilities. In addition to teaching academic subjects, they may also teach basic skills like communication and life skills. The 2017 median pay for special education teachers was $58,980, according to the BLS, and there will be an 8 percent increase in employment by 2026. Some subspecialties in special education require additional training and certification. UWA offers an online special education program where working teachers can learn how to provide developmentally appropriate instruction to students in sixth through 12th grade who have cognitive, behavioral, physical or multiple disabilities. This program allows graduates to earn their Class A Certification in Collaborative Special Education 6-12 for Alabama.

Teacher leader

Also called instructional coordinators, teacher leaders oversee curricula and teacher standards in the school. They develop instructional material and often serve as a liaison between a group of teachers (a department, for example) and the administration. Teacher leaders tend to have a measure of seniority and typically a master’s degree or more. The median pay for a teacher leader in 2017 was $63,750 and the need for teacher leaders is expected to grow by 11 percent by 2026. UWA offers an online master’s in instructional leadership which allows working teachers to develop the ability to lead others, foster student achievement in learning-centered environments and advocate for quality educational practices.

High school subject matters in demand

According to the BLS, there were 15,610 people employed as teachers in Alabama in 2017. The median pay in the state was $49,790. Subject matter teachers tend to work 10 months out of the year. During the summer months, most teachers are expected to devote some time to professional development and classroom/curriculum prep.

The following subject matters are a month the most in demand:

  • Physical education: Are you good at sports? Do you care about health? Alabama needs PE teachers. The state is known for its passion for high school and college sports. Many PE teachers also coach sports teams and are expected to give lessons on health and hygiene. UWA offers an online master’s in physical education instruction which teaches advanced concepts for instructing physical education students in preschool through 12th grade.
  • Math and science: Teachers specializing in any of the STEM or STEAM subject are expected to some of the highest in demand as the U.S. strives to keep up as technology and science so rapidly evolves. UWA offers an online alternative teaching certification in mathematics with an MAT or MEd degree option.
  • Social sciences: Social science teachers teach any classes that study human society and social relationships. Those classes can include economics, history, politics, psychology, geography and others. While some social science teachers teach several subjects, others specialize. UWA offers an online alternative teaching certification in history with an MAT or MEd degree option.

A Visual Look at Salaries

StateAnnual Salary

Education Requirements

To be a teacher in Alabama, you need a bachelor’s degree and to complete an accredited certification program that involves both coursework and student teaching. Then you must pass several standardized tests.

Teacher testing in Alabama is handled by the Alabama Educator Certification Assessment Program (AECAP). Three basic skills assessments (applied mathematics, reading for information, and writing) and the Praxis II exams for subject proficiency are required. There are over 90 different tests ranging from agriculture to world languages. If you test in Alabama, your score report will be automatically sent to the state department of education.

Starting or continuing your education career

Advance or start your teaching career with an online teaching degree from the University of West Alabama. Develop the skills and knowledge you need to change your teaching focus to or start work in one of these in-demand teaching specialties in a convenient online format.  Degrees offered online include M.A. Teaching, M.Ed. High School Education, M.Ed. Physical Education and M.Ed. Special Education, among others.