Middle School Teachers

Quick Facts: Middle School Teachers
2017 Median Pay $57,720 per year
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2016 630,300
Job Outlook, 2016-26 8% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 47,300

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Middle School Teachers Career, Salary and Education Information

What Middle School Teachers Do

Middle school teachers educate students, typically in sixth through eighth grade. Middle school teachers help students build on the fundamentals taught in elementary school and prepare students for the more difficult curriculum they will face in high school.


middle school teachers

Duties of middle school teachers

Middle school teachers typically do the following:

  • Create lesson plans to teach students a subject, such as science or history

  • Assess students to evaluate their abilities, strengths, and weaknesses

  • Teach lessons they have planned to an entire class or to smaller groups

  • Grade students’ assignments and exams

  • Communicate with parents about their child’s progress

  • Work with students individually to help them overcome specific learning challenges

  • Prepare students for standardized tests required by the state

  • Develop and enforce classroom rules

  • Supervise students outside of the classroom—for example, during lunchtime or detention

Middle school teachers generally teach students from sixth to eighth grades. However, in some school districts, they may teach students as early as fourth grade or as late as ninth grade.

In many schools, middle school teachers are responsible for only some of the subjects their students learn, and see several different classes of students throughout the day. For example, one teacher may be responsible for teaching English while another may be responsible for teaching math. However, some middle school teachers are responsible for teaching every subject to a single class. Others can sometimes work in teams that teach the same group of students. These teachers meet with each other to discuss students’ progress and to plan future lessons.

Teachers use time during the day when they do not have classes to plan lessons, grade assignments, or meet with other teachers and staff.

Some middle school instructors teach specialized classes, such as art, music, physical education, or English as a second language (ESL). ESL or English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) teachers work exclusively with students who are learning the English language. These students are often referred to as English language learners (ELLs). ESL and ESOL teachers work with students individually or in groups to help them improve their English language skills and to help the students with assignments for their other classes.

Middle school teachers may also work with special education teachers to adapt lessons taught in traditional classes to meet the needs of students with learning disabilities and emotional or behavioral disorders. In some cases, middle school teachers may co-teach lessons with special education teachers.

Teachers must be comfortable with using and learning new technology. They may use websites to communicate with parents about students’ assignments, upcoming events, and grades. For their students, teachers may create websites or discussion boards to present information or to expand a lesson taught in class.

Some middle school teachers coach sports teams and advise student clubs and groups, whose practices and meetings frequently take place before or after school.

Work Environment for Middle School Teachers

Middle school teachers held about 630,300 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of middle school teachers were as follows:

Elementary and secondary schools; local: 85%

Elementary and secondary schools; private: 13%

Most states have tenure laws, which provide job security after a certain number of years of satisfactory teaching.

Watching students develop new skills and gain an appreciation for knowledge and learning can be very rewarding. However, teaching may be stressful. Some schools have large classes and lack important teaching tools, such as current technology and textbooks.

Working with middle school students also can be challenging because the students are becoming adolescents and teachers need to be able to understand what they are going through outside of the classroom. Some states are developing teacher mentoring programs and teacher development courses to help with the challenges of being a teacher.

work schedules for middle school teachers

Middle school teachers generally work during school hours when students are present. They may meet with parents, students, and other teachers before and after school. Teachers who coach sports or advise clubs generally do so before or after school. They often spend time in the evenings and on weekends grading papers and preparing lessons.

How to Become a Middle School Teacher

Middle school teachers must have a bachelor’s degree. In addition, public school teachers must have a state-issued certification or license.


All states require public middle school teachers to have at least a bachelor’s degree. Many states require middle school teachers to major in a content area, such as math or science. Other states require middle school teachers to major in elementary education. Middle school teachers typically enroll in their college’s teacher preparation program and take classes in education and child psychology in addition to the classes required by their major.

Teacher education programs teach prospective middle school teachers how to present information to students and how to work with students of varying abilities and backgrounds. Programs typically include a student-teaching program, in which they work with a mentor teacher and get experience teaching students in a classroom setting. For information about teacher preparation programs in your state, visit Teach.org.

Some states require middle school teachers to earn a master’s degree after receiving their teaching certification and obtaining a job.

Teachers in private schools do not need to meet state requirements. However, private schools typically seek middle school teachers who have a bachelor’s degree and a major in elementary education or a content area.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

All states require teachers in public schools to be licensed or certified in the specific grade level that they will teach. Those who teach in private schools typically do not need a license. Requirements for certification or licensure vary by state but generally involve the following:

  • A bachelor’s degree with a minimum grade point average

  • Completion of a teacher preparation program and supervised experience in teaching, which is typically gained through student teaching

  • Passing a background check

  • Passing a general teaching certification test, as well as a test that demonstrates their knowledge of the subject they will teach.

For information on certification requirements in your state, visit Teach.org. Teachers are often required to complete annual professional development classes to keep their license or certification. Some states require teachers to complete a master’s degree after receiving their certification and obtaining a job.

All states offer an alternative route to certification or licensure for people who already have a bachelor’s degree but lack the education courses required for certification. Some alternative certification programs allow candidates to begin teaching immediately under the supervision of an experienced teacher. These programs cover teaching methods and child development. After they complete the program, candidates are awarded full certification. Other programs require students to take classes in education before they can teach. Students may be awarded a master’s degree after completing either of these programs.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Teachers must collaborate with other teachers and special education teachers. In addition, they need to discuss students’ needs with parents and administrators.

Patience. Working with students of different abilities and backgrounds can be difficult. Middle school teachers must be patient when students struggle with material.

Physical stamina. Working with middle school aged students can be tiring. Teachers need to physically, mentally, and emotionally keep up with the students.

Resourcefulness. Middle school teachers need to explain difficult concepts in terms that students can understand. In addition, they need to get students engaged in learning and adapt lessons to each student’s needs.


Experienced teachers can advance to serve as mentors to newer teachers or to become lead teachers. In these positions, they help less experienced teachers to improve their teaching skills.

With additional education or certification, teachers may become school counselors, school librarians, or instructional coordinators. Some become assistant principals or principals, both of which generally require additional education in education administration or leadership. For more information, see the profiles on school and career counselorslibrariansinstructional coordinators, and elementary, middle, and high school principals.

salaries for Middle School Teachers

The median annual wage for middle school teachers was $57,720 in May 2017. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $38,540, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $91,670.

In May 2017, the median annual wages for middle school teachers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Elementary and secondary schools; local: $58,670

Elementary and secondary schools; private: $48,360

Middle school teachers generally work school hours when students are present. They may meet with parents, students, and other teachers before and after school. Teachers who coach sports or advise clubs generally do so before or after school. Teachers often spend time in the evenings and on weekends grading papers and preparing lessons.

Union Membership

Compared with workers in all occupations, middle school teachers had a higher percentage of workers who belonged to a union in 2016.

Job Outlook for middle school teachers

Employment of middle school teachers is projected to grow 8 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Rising student enrollment should increase demand for middle school teachers, but employment growth will vary by region. The number of students in public middle schools is expected to increase over the coming decade, and the number of classes needed to accommodate these students is projected to rise. As a result, more teachers will be required to teach public middle school students.

Despite expected increases in enrollment in public schools, employment growth for middle school teachers often depends on state and local government budgets. If state and local governments experience budget deficits, they may lay off employees, including teachers. Conversely, budget surpluses at the state and local level could lead to additional employment growth for middle school teachers.

Job Prospects for middle school teachers

From 2016 to 2026, a significant number of older teachers are expected to reach retirement age. Their retirement will increase the need to replace workers who leave the occupation. Opportunities will vary by region and school setting. There may be better opportunities in urban and rural school districts than in suburban school districts. Flexibility in job location may increase job prospects.

Employment projections data for Middle School Teachers, 2016-26

Employment, 2016: 630,300

Projected Employment, 2026: 677,700

Change, 2016-2026: +8%, +47,400

Careers Related to Middle School Teachers

Career and Technical Education Teachers

Career and technical education teachers instruct students in various technical and vocational subjects, such as auto repair, healthcare, and culinary arts. They teach academic and technical content to provide students with the skills and knowledge necessary to enter an occupation.

Childcare Workers

Childcare workers attend to the basic needs of children, such as dressing, bathing, feeding, and overseeing play. They may help younger children prepare for kindergarten or assist older children with homework.

Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals

Elementary, middle, and high school principals manage all school operations, including daily school activities. They coordinate curriculums, oversee teachers and other school staff, and provide a safe and productive learning environment for students.

High School Teachers

High school teachers help prepare students for life after graduation. They teach academic lessons and various skills that students will need to attend college and to enter the job market.

Instructional Coordinators

Instructional coordinators oversee school curriculums and teaching standards. They develop instructional material, coordinate its implementation with teachers and principals, and assess its effectiveness.

Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers instruct young students in basic subjects, such as math and reading, in order to prepare them for future schooling.


Librarians help people find information and conduct research for personal and professional use. Their job duties may change based on the type of library they work in, such as public, academic, and medical libraries.

Postsecondary Teachers

Postsecondary teachers instruct students in a wide variety of academic and technical subjects beyond the high school level. They may also conduct research and publish scholarly papers and books.

Preschool Teachers

Preschool teachers educate and care for children younger than age 5 who have not yet entered kindergarten. They teach language, motor, and social skills to young children.

School and Career Counselors

School counselors help students develop the academic and social skills needed to succeed in school. Career counselors help people choose careers and follow a path to employment.

Social Workers

Social workers help people solve and cope with problems in their everyday lives. Clinical social workers also diagnose and treat mental, behavioral, and emotional issues.

Special Education Teachers

Special education teachers work with students who have a wide range of learning, mental, emotional, and physical disabilities. They adapt general education lessons and teach various subjects, such as reading, writing, and math, to students with mild and moderate disabilities. They also teach basic skills, such as literacy and communication techniques, to students with severe disabilities.

Teacher Assistants

Teacher assistants work under a teacher’s supervision to give students additional attention and instruction.

Career and Technical Education TeachersBachelor's degree$55,240
Childcare WorkersHigh school diploma or equivalent$22,290
Elementary, Middle, and High School PrincipalsMaster's degree$94,390
High School TeachersBachelor's degree$59,170
Instructional CoordinatorsMaster's degree$63,750
LibrariansMaster's degree$58,520
Postsecondary Teachers$76,000
Preschool TeachersAssociate's degree$28,990
School and Career CounselorsMaster's degree$55,410
Social Workers$47,980
Special Education TeachersBachelor's degree$58,980
Teacher AssistantsSome college, no degree$26,260
Kindergarten and Elementary School TeachersBachelor's degree$56,900


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Middle School Teachers,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/middle-school-teachers.htm