Three months vacation. Threeeeeeeeeee monnnnnnnnnnths vacaaaaaaaaaaation…How could you turn that down? Of course it's a good reason to become a teacher!

Sure, the massive summer vacation is one reason to become a teacher, but there are many other (better) reasons for considering such a career:

  • You really enjoy teaching.
  • You really like children (in a legal sense, of course).
  • You enjoy making very little money.
  • You have to practice your Steel Magnolias monologue in front of someone.
  • You like feeling smarter than others, even if the "others" are only 8 years old.

Pursuing a teaching career is one of the most noble things you can do; parents will be entrusting you with their children for eight hours a day, and it's your job to make them smart and responsible human beings that will not shoot other people. And as you slowly recall your teachers from elementary, junior high, and high school, you'll realize that being a good teacher is not easy. It takes work. But on the plus side, if you do a good job, you really can create a positive impact on your community.

What we're trying to say is that being a teacher is a wonderful responsibility, not just an avenue for getting two weeks off at Christmas so you can jet off to the Bahamas. You won't be able to afford it on a teacher's salary anyway.


Before you spend thousands of dollars getting certified, you really should make sure you've got what it takes to be a teacher. Along with a fearless attitude toward the 18-and-under species, there are certain characteristics that teachers should have in common.

First and foremost, you must have PATIENCE. If you don't have patience, you're going to have a tough time when that kid from your first period kindergarten class continues to wet his pants day after day after day even though his mom insists he's potty-trained. In addition, you should be creative, fun-loving, tolerant, and a good speaker. And - the all-important question -- Do you even like kids? And don't kid yourself (no pun intended): Taking your little brother to a baseball game one Saturday is nothing compared to trying to teach 25 screaming seventh-graders how to diagram a sentence. Think about it.

One way to figure out if you can do it is to watch someone else in action. If you've got any friends who are teachers, ask if you can sit in on a class.

Another thing you've got to brace yourself for is the salary. It's not the stock market and it never will be; however, it's not as bad as all those teachers' strikes on the news make it out to be. Teacher salaries vary across the country and some states actually pay fairly good money to get certified teachers into their classrooms. In California, starting teachers can expect to be paid about $30,000; while in South Dakota, the average is about $26,000. (Don't forget, these are public school salaries. Private schools generally pay a lot less). But there is hope: if you're willing to move to Alaska, Connecticut or (heaven forbid) New Jersey, the average public school teacher makes about $50,000 a year. For more information on teacher's salaries across the country, the National Education Association puts out periodic ranking of teachers' pays.

The point is, you're not doing this for the money.