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How to Become a Middle School Teacher

Drexel University School of Education

Educating children during some of their most formative years is a big responsibility. Working with kids can be quite challenging, requiring a middle school teacher to possess strong communication skills, patience, and a passion for teaching.

But it can also be quite rewarding. Specializing in at least one subject, middle school teachers have a special opportunity to share their academic passions with students. And figuring out how to become a middle school teacher is a relatively simple process that can be broken into four steps:

  • Complete a Bachelor’s degree. This includes education in the subjects you wish to teach and a teacher preparation program.
  • Gain several weeks of student teaching experience.
  • Apply for certification after completing a variety of state requirements.
  • Submit job applications for middle school teaching jobs that interest you.

Like all teacher requirements, specific middle school teacher requirements vary state by state. But below you can learn about the typical path students can take to become a middle school teacher.

You can get started on the path to becoming a middle school teacher today; take a moment to request information about your unique opportunities through the School of Education.

What Degree Do You Need to Become a Middle School Teacher?

While virtually any degree can eventually be turned towards teaching, the most direct route to becoming a middle school teacher is with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education. But in addition to the pedagogical requirements shared among all teachers, and grade-level specific requirements, meeting middle school education requirements involves the need for subject-area expertise.

That might include courses in biology, mathematics, chemistry, or whatever courses are pertinent to your areas of interest. After you’ve completed your degree, you’ll also need to complete state licensure requirements.

What Classes Do I Need to Become a Middle School Teacher?

The courses necessary to become a middle school teacher are partially based on the subject areas that a prospective teacher would like to teach. Required courses also depend on the grade-level of your students. For example, the Secondary Education Degree Program prepares students to teach both middle school and high school students.

In addition to competing subject area courses like chemistry or mathematics, students take foundational courses, including:

  • EDUC 123 Adolescent Development
  • EDUC 308 Creating a Positive Classroom Climate
  • PSY 101 General Psychology I
  • PHIL 251 Ethics
  • EDUC 322 Evaluation of Instruction

How Long Does it Take to Become a Middle School Teacher?

Like engineers, physicians, or lawyers, becoming a teacher requires completing a series of exams to ensure certain standards of competence. Some paths to becoming a teacher are longer than others, but becoming a licensed middle school teacher can usually be done in around 4-5 years. That includes:

  • Finishing a Bachelor’s degree (4 years)
  • Finishing a teacher education program (1-2 semesters)
  • Finishing certification requirements (Allow at least 8 weeks)

Students in Drexel's bachelor's degree programs in teacher education can complete all of the above requirements in four years. Students who already have a bachelor's degree can enroll in Drexel's teacher certification program to complete the required courses and student-teaching experiences. 

Experience Student Teaching in the Drexel Co-Op Program

Student teaching is one of the most important requirements for becoming a middle school teacher. This part of middle school teacher training is essentially a type of internship where prospective educators have the opportunity to apply pedagogical theory to practice. Working closely with a teacher mentor, a student teacher will instruct classes for one or two semesters, cumulating in at least 13 weeks of experience.

But not all student teaching programs are identical. For example, Drexel’s Co-Op program allows students a more hands-on and flexible approach to learning. Students can work directly in their field of study, providing a practical foundation to develop expertise, and preparing them with real-world experience that can make for a more competitive resume.

Co-op programs can also provide a more flexible way to complete student teaching requirements. For instance, students can select a schedule that allows them to teach two semesters instead of one. You can learn more about these kinds of requirements with the Student Teaching FAQ.

Middle School Teaching Certificate

Aspiring middle school teachers must be certified in the state where they intend to teach. While certification requirements vary from state to state, most states have similar requirements. That includes requiring a bachelor’s degree, a teacher education program, student teaching experience, passing certification exams, and completing a variety of clearances to work with children.

For a middle school teacher, that usually includes subject area exams. For example, a prospective middle school teacher who wanted to teach math will generally need to complete a subject exam related to mathematics.

Middle School Teaching Certification in Pennsylvania

Becoming a middle school teacher in Pennsylvania requires a bachelor’s degree, the completion of a teacher education program that has been approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, and passing a variety of certification exams.

Middle school teachers need to complete the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators (CORE), the Pre-service Academic Performance Assessment (PAPA), and all relevant Praxis subject assessments. Completing a variety of clearances is also necessary, including a child abuse clearance, as well as both state and federal background checks.

Earning your certification as a middle school teacher in PA can prepare you for a rewarding, lifelong career helping young people on the cusp of entering high school and formulating their own life path. If you think you may want to pursue a teaching career, contact the Drexel School of Education to request more information.