“Why do you want to teach?" Responses to this question varied from “to mold young minds,” to “to inspire others as my teachers inspired me,” to “to not have to sit in a cubicle.” On Monday, February 11, a group of Carolina students gathered for the University Career Services Teaching Options for Non-Education Majors workshop. In a room of mostly seniors, the students’ answers to the original question were certainly varied, as are the avenues that a non-education major can take to become a teacher.
First of all, is teaching right for you? Teaching is a difficult job. It is important to do some self-reflection and ask yourself if the rewards outweigh the challenges. Additionally, there are many requirements to becoming a teacher. The first is a Bachelor’s degree, and the next depends on the state-specific requirements, which can be found at www.teach-now.org and on each state’s Department of Education website.
There are four separate types of schools where you can teach without an education degree: public, charter, independent, and private. Specifically for non-education majors, the charter, independent, and private schools focus more on teachers with a passion for a specific subject. So, if you want to teach your major, it would be advantageous to do some research on school systems other than public schools.
Additionally, there are a wide variety of 2-3 year teaching programs that offer opportunities for non-education majors. The list presented includes but is not limited to: Teach for America, the New Teacher Project, Teachcharlotte, Citizen Schools, Mississippi Teacher Corps, Memphis Teacher Residency, and Urban Teacher Center. Some of these programs even offer the ability to complete a Master’s program at the same time! They are achievement-based, so if you want to take advantage of a stellar academic record at UNC, one of these programs may be good ones to explore. Sidenote: UNC is in the top 5 universities for recruiting at Teach for America! Go Heels!
If you are looking to teach English abroad, there are some valuable resources that can help in your search. UCS’s website has a “Going Global” link that has country guides if you would like to learn about life in a particular country. Another valuable resource is goabroad.com/teach-abroad. Keep in mind that it is usually necessary to obtain a TEFL and/or TESOL certification in order to teach English abroad. But, be wary of scams! If a program seems fishy, ask a UCS counselor to help you with some due diligence.
Besides formal teaching roles, perhaps your need to shape the minds of our youth would be met in another capacity. One student graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in music and now works at Carnegie Hall educating students in tour groups about the history of the Hall and the music that is made there. Museums, non-profit organizations, and other programs like the Peace Corps may be avenues to explore.
So, how do you land one of these teaching opportunities? Gain experience! If you are going home for spring break, ask some of your former teachers if there are any job-shadowing opportunities for you. Doing so will really set you apart from the pack when looking at full-time employment opportunities and may help you determine if you actually enjoy teaching!
Finally, probably the best thing you can do in the short-term for your teaching career search is to attend the Education Job Fair. It will be held on Tuesday, March 26, in the Great Hall. Dress professionally and bring resumes! There will be employers there from public schools, private schools, charter schools, Teach for America, non-profits, and many other teaching organizations. Speaking with representatives from these groups will allow you to learn first-hand what life as a teacher is like and help build your network. Explore the opportunities that exist for you as a non-education major to teach, as there are many!
If you would like a copy of the presentation, please email Christy Walker at email@example.com.