Computer Teacher: Education Requirements, Salary and Other Career Info
Today’s educational landscape is undergoing a dramatic shift as computer literacy becomes increasingly necessary for jobs in every economic sector. With the current focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), computer technology teachers have one of the most important jobs in education today.
Computer technology teachers prepare students for careers in a wide range of professions — from future accountants and healthcare workers, to web developers and retail managers, to home builders and delivery drivers.
Our guide offers insights into the required education, salary and job outlook of the computer technology teaching profession. Browse through the content or use the links to go to your desired destination:
> Computer teacher job duties
> Who makes good computer technology teachers?
Teaching at the various levels
> K-8 computer technology teachers
> High school computer technology teachers
> Postsecondary/college computer technology teachers
Professional development for computer technology teachers
> Continuing education
> Professional associations
> Jobs beyond the school setting
Best of the Web
> Sites and Twitter handles to follow
At-a-glance: computer technology teachers
|Education||Bachelor’s; master’s preferred||Bachelor’s; master’s preferred||Master’s; doctorate|
|Typical study time||4-6 years||4-6 years||5-10 years|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (Note: Data listed is for elementary, middle school and high school teachers overall, and for postsecondary computer science teachers.)
Computer technology teaching encompasses a range of subjects, from learning how to use computer hardware to software programming. People who are numbers-oriented, with strong technical abilities and a firm grasp of mathematics, are generally well-suited for careers as computer technology teachers. These instructors should also be comfortable with public speaking and working among groups.
Computer technology teacher job description
People with strong analytical and critical thinking skills — who are logical thinkers and objective decision-makers — are well-suited for jobs teaching computer technology. Because today’s K-12 students are more computer-literate than past generations, computer technology teachers should be experts in educational technology, information systems and computer science.
Computer technology teachers work with students individually and in groups to teach skills and expand knowledge. As students move forward — from learning word-processing, spreadsheet and graphics programs to building websites and writing code — they progress from studying individually to working in groups. These group-oriented dynamics require a step-by-step, or iterative, process that values the contributions of multiple team members to accomplish assigned tasks.
Who makes good computer technology teachers?
People who are comfortable using computing technology and have a passion for learning and teaching new programs are often drawn to careers as computer teachers. Those with a passion for designing information systems, writing computer code, implementing procedures and adhering to information technology best practices are well-suited for careers as computer technology teachers.
Good listening skills, patience and empathy are crucial traits for computer technology teachers. They must understand how information systems work and be able to teach others how to use computers effectively.
Because K-12 students have a wide range of skills, knowledge and learning abilities, K-12 computer technology teachers must be capable of working with students at different learning levels. Some students in computer technology courses require one-on-one attention. Others have a knack for using computers. Some students may be adept at certain tasks, like using word-processing programs and creating spreadsheets, while others may be naturally inclined toward graphic arts programs or software coding.
Excellent computer technology teachers are patient. They have calm, nonjudgmental dispositions that make them well-suited for working among students with a wide range of personalities and learning abilities, computer skills and mathematical know-how.
Computer technology teachers are:
- Comfortable working with computer hardware, software, networking and information delivery systems
- Adept at using a variety of programming languages, including C++, Microsoft Visual Basic and Java
- Knowledgeable about electrical engineering technology, physical science and telecommunications systems
- Proficient in mathematics, from advanced algebra and calculus to statistics, probability and data analysis
- Effective communicators with good public speaking skills and strong presentation delivery abilities
- Good leaders, with a variety of teaching styles that facilitate one-on-one and group learning activities
Interested in becoming a computer technology teacher?
Learn why integrating science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curriculum across K-12 is so important for encouraging today’s students to become tomorrow’s computer programmers, electrical engineers, information technology architects and other careers with bright futures.
Teaching computer technology at the various levels
Many factors come into play in deciding which education level to teach. These include:
- Teacher’s educational level; postsecondary institutions usually require an advanced degree, and some high schools prefer master’s degrees
- Range and breadth of knowledge about computer programming and information technology subjects; the higher the grade level, the more expertise teachers are expected to have
- Age and maturity levels of students; from elementary school to college, learning computer technology becomes increasingly complex and requires concentration
- Local salary considerations and employment opportunities; this is especially relevant for high-tech workers who can command larger salaries in nonteaching jobs
K-8 computer technology teachers
The spotlight on STEM learning has prompted some policymakers to seek increased funding for computer technology education at every level, including elementary schools. Elementary and middle school teachers should prepare for students who have a range of knowledge and comfort levels — from working with simple content management systems to problem-solving tasks like programming computer pathways.
Continue reading to learn more about K-8 computer technology teachers
- What do K-8 computer technology teachers do?
- Educational and certification requirements
- Salary and employment projections
- Pros and cons of being a K-8 computer technology teacher
K-6 students are becoming adept at using computers. Some fourth- and fifth-graders are as familiar with word-processing, spreadsheet and graphics programs as adults who graduated from high school and college in the late 1980s.
Computer specialists work either as full-time teachers or as consultants who assist and coach general education K-12 teachers. They teach basic computing skills and work with a wide range of students, from those who mastered tablets as toddlers to less-fortunate children who either don’t have computers at home or cannot afford private access to the Internet.
Computer technology teachers must be comfortable organizing students and helping them launch projects as individuals and in groups. Strong project management skills, therefore, are crucial to the success of computer technology teaching.
K-8 computer technology teacher job description
Elementary school technology teachers help students learn the basics of using computers, often moving from classroom to classroom and changing the curriculum to fit the students’ knowledge. For more advanced students, particularly in middle school, computer teachers begin to teach programming skills and information architecture systems. They have one of the most important jobs in education, because the intermediate grades are where some students fall behind in the use of technology. This is especially true for students who did not receive exposure to computers in elementary school.
The sooner schools introduce students to technology the easier it is for them to advance in high school, where learning computing languages and programming skills prepares them for postsecondary computer science courses. It is crucial, therefore, for computer teachers to identify older students who are not at grade level and work diligently to prepare them for success in high school computer and information technology learning.
In addition to technical subject expertise, K-8 computer technology teachers need to be familiar with basic teaching responsibilities.
- Organize and manage classrooms and work with administrators to implement school policies and districtwide procedures
- Plan lessons, lectures, multimedia demonstrations and other presentations that are appropriate for computer and information technologies
- Assign classroom lessons and homework; grade assignments and quizzes; administer and grade tests, and stay current with statewide standards
- Work with students individually when necessary to evaluate progress, improve performance and achieve success in computing skills
- Conduct hands-on open classroom tours for parents, guardians and guests, and schedule parent-teacher conferences as necessary
K-8 computer technology curriculum
Elementary schools throughout the United States currently offer a wide range of computer technology curriculum — from sharing a single desktop computer that’s been assigned to one classroom comprising three dozen students to teaching every fifth-grader over the course of a year how to build a basic website on a dedicated laptop.
Some basic computer concepts K-5 students can be expected to achieve include:
- Use pointing devices like a desktop mouse or tablet stylus to navigate computing devices
- Identify and locate icons to launch programs, save data and initiate screen operations
- Use keyboards to efficiently type with left and right hands when possible; use quick keys and other navigational shortcuts
- Use word-processing programs to write and edit text and save projects; use desktop folders to organize work
- Use menus, toolbars and other program options to change text point size, font styles and various typeface formatting options
Middle school computer technology instructors are responsible for teaching courses in intermediate computing skills. They also introduce students to information technology and delivery systems. Here are some basic computer skills students can be expected to develop in grades six to eight:
- Use spreadsheets, from basic data entry and editing to more complex tasks such as exporting data to illustrate tables and graphics
- Use paint-and-draw, photo cropping and other graphics enhancement programs to add images to text files and social media pages
- Understand computer technology concepts such as fair use and copyright policies for text, music and video
- Learn the basics of data-retrieval systems, including file structure trees, to order and archive content
- Develop proficiency in the use of dashboard functions, windows and menus, and other content and data tools
- Use computer technology to improve STEM learning — from understanding geometry concepts to memorizing the periodic table of the elements for chemistry
- Create text-based written reports, slides, infographics, pie charts and tables that utilize an array of computer-based functions
- Improve documents, graphics and slide presentations with the proper use of photos, video and audio clips and still images
- Learn how to compress and transfer files online through various cloud-based programs that allow users to upload and share text, photos, videos, audio files and other media
- Understand how to correctly share files, including music and video downloading; learn the rules for using copyright materials and various open-source libraries such as Wikipedia images
- Learn how to create and use secure passwords, set up pop-up blockers and spam filters; recognize Internet abuses that threaten privacy and risky viruses; and learn best practices for proper email etiquette
How to become a K-8 computer technology teacher: educational requirements
Computer technology teachers are expected to have at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology systems, statistics and data analytics or a similar discipline. Computer technology teachers often specialize in subjects such as software programming, website development or computer graphics and design.
Level of educational attainment for K-8 teachers:
- Less than high school diploma: 0.2%
- High school diploma or equivalent: 0.3%
- Some college, no degree: 2.9%
- Associate degree: 1.9%
- Bachelor’s degree: 44.3%
- Master’s degree: 46.5%
- Doctoral or professional degree: 3.9%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (Note: Data listed is for elementary and middle school teachers overall; it is not computer teacher specific.)
Certification requirements for K-8 computer technology teachers
A state-issued teaching certificate or license is usually required to become a K-8 teacher. However, some private schools do not require a teaching credential. Specific certification and licensing requirements for teachers vary from state to state. Teachers are usually required to take professional development courses as a condition of certification.
Teaching License Reciprocity by State: Visit our state-by-state teacher licensing and reciprocity page for regulations in your state.
Alternative certification is becoming increasingly popular, with an estimated 20 percent of teachers entering the profession through nontraditional means. Because of fluctuating teacher shortages, states are offering people who already have bachelor’s degrees alternative ways to get certified.
People with engineering, science, mathematics and other STEM-related degrees who are looking for stable, meaningful careers may want to consider teaching computer technology. Standard 40-hour workweeks and two-month summer vacations may entice these professionals. After graduating from teaching certification programs, these new computer teaching professionals are mentored by an experienced teacher until they earn full certification.
K-8 teacher salary and employment projections
The salary for all elementary and middle school teachers across the United States ranges from about $32,000 to $54,000, based on estimates from 2010 to 2013. Salaries for computer teachers vary depending on the job title, with computer technology teachers at the lower end and computer science teachers at the higher end.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: $53,400 to $53,430 (all elementary and middle school teachers)
- Glassdoor.com: $38,000
- SimplyHired.com: $45,000
- Indeed.com: $41,000
The employment outlook for all K-8 teachers appears stable in certain regions. The overall demand for teachers is stronger than many other professions, according to the BLS. In some expanding U.S. regions, such as the Southeast, Southwest and West, job growth for K-8 teachers is stronger than other parts of the nation. Overall, the BLS estimates a 12 percent growth rate for K-8 teachers through 2022.
Pros and cons of being a K-8 computer technology teacher
- Work with students entering their preteen or teen years who are enthralled by computers and appreciate the opportunity to use them
- Prepare students for high school by teaching intermediate computing skills and age-appropriate beginning programming
- Expand students’ proficiency and learning in other subjects through the use of computers, from writing and foreign language to math and science
- Deal with students who abuse computers at school for personal use and may need to be monitored for playing unsanctioned games and engaging in other activities
- Encounter students who can be immature, undisciplined and difficult to handle, especially when enforcing rules for computer use and Internet activities
- Teach students with a limited range of computing abilities and knowledge of information technology best practices that can slow down more advanced students
High school computer technology teachers
High school computer teachers are responsible for organizing and implementing more advanced courses than their K-8 counterparts. Because they teach advanced students, high school computer teachers enjoy opportunities to expand their own knowledge of computing, programming and IT services.Continue reading to learn more about teaching computer technology in high school
- What do high school computer technology teachers do?
- Educational and certification requirements
- Salary and employment projections
- Pros and cons of being a high school computer technology teacher
High school computer technology teachers have opportunities to work with students on projects that enable them to produce applications and programs with practical uses that can help improve society. These projects might include writing a software program that streamlines school bus travel by maximizing fuel efficiency using GPS routes. Or, they might work with students to write a customized software program that addresses a particular reading and writing disability.
High school computer technology teacher job description
Incoming high school students should have a solid foundation in computing basics, including intermediate to expert use of word-processing, spreadsheet and presentation software programs. Advanced students are expected to prepare for college classes in object-oriented programming and code writing as well as college preparatory courses in computer science, information technology hardware and telecommunications networking.
This means high school computer teachers must stay current on statewide testing curriculum for math and science. In addition, they may teach college preparatory computer science to ensure students are on track and receiving age-appropriate coursework.
In addition to mastering computer and IT subjects, high school computer technology teachers should be adept at performing basic classroom management functions.
- Manage classrooms and coordinate procedures with education leaders and administrators to implement school and districtwide policies on use of software and appropriate websites
- Organize coursework, plan lessons, lectures and multimedia presentations that are appropriate for computer technology curriculum
- Issue classroom assignments and homework; grade tests and quizzes; evaluate students, and stay current with statewide standards
- Conduct lab-style classroom visits for parents, guardians and guests, and schedule parent-teacher conferences as needed
- Work with students individually when necessary to evaluate progress and improve performance in computing and IT skills
High school computer technology curriculum
High school computer technology teachers are expected to teach standardized subjects and prepare students for college STEM courses. They are expected to be experts in the subjects they teach and should be capable of engaging students to become enthusiastic about technology and to solve real-world problems through computing applications.
Here is a snapshot of computer technology requirements for students in grades nine to 12:
- Use computers to address simple problems, from writing articles for English composition classes, to solving math equations for calculus, to building three-dimensional models for physical science assignments
- Identify and troubleshoot basic issues, such as inadequate memory to run a given program, or the sudden stoppage of an Internet website due to a faulty hardware connection or mandatory software upgrade
- Create blogs and use various template-based content management systems to build and present personalized content relevant to course assignments, within the parameters of school and districtwide policies
- Understand basic principles and processes of information delivery systems; design data structure trees to organize and present information intuitively, accurately and logically
- Use the Internet to search for and identify appropriate resources to improve research and writing of documents and for enhancing content
- Plan and organize, write and execute collaborative projects with classmates by building a website, public forum, social media pages and other interactive content using tools that enable two-way feedback from users
- Develop expert use of spreadsheet programs through advanced formatting features to manipulate text, figures and symbols; move cells, columns and rows, add worksheets, export files for tables, and perform calculations
- Use scientific notations, percentages, exponents and other formulas as enhancements to math and science assignments; learn how to use two- and three-dimensional modeling to create geometric shapes
- Learn the fundamental concepts of computer science for high school courses in programming, website development and other information technology disciplines that require in-depth knowledge of computing systems
- Begin learning computer literacy skills and develop a basic understanding of HTML and XML and programming languages like C++ and Java; discover how they are used to develop practical applications
- Start leaning the fundamentals of computational thinking as an approach to problem-solving through an introduction to concepts like abstraction, recursion, iteration, virtual artifacts, data analysis and processes
How to become a high school computer technology teacher: educational requirements
High school computer technology teachers must have at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology systems, statistics and data analytics or a similar discipline. Computer technology teachers may be required to have a master’s degree in computer science or other subjects like English, math or science. Most computer technology teachers have specialized areas of interest such as software programming, information technology and networking expertise or professional website graphics and design skills.
Level of educational attainment for high school teachers:
- Less than high school diploma: 0.2%
- High school diploma or equivalent: 0.2%
- Some college, no degree: 2.3%
- Associate degree: 1.5%
- Bachelor’s degree: 43.4%
- Master’s degree: 48.3%
- Doctoral or professional degree: 4.0%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (Note: Data listed is for high school teachers overall, and not computer technology teachers specific.)
Certification requirements for high school computer technology teachers
A state-issued teaching certificate or license is generally required to become a high school computer teacher. However, some private schools do not specify a teaching credential as a job prerequisite. Specific certification and licensing requirements for high school teachers vary from state to state and sometimes within states. Teachers are usually required to take professional development courses as a condition of certification.
Teaching License Reciprocity by State: Visit our state-by-state teacher licensing and reciprocity page for regulations in your state.
Alternative certification is becoming increasingly popular, with an estimated 20 percent of teachers entering the profession as a second career. Because of fluctuating teacher shortages, states are offering creative ways for people who already have bachelor’s degrees to get certified to teach K-12 students.
People with engineering, science and other STEM-related degrees who are computer literate and are looking for stable careers should consider teaching computer technology at high schools. These professionals, often enticed by a 40-hour workweek and two-month summer vacations, need to become certified before entering the education field. After graduating from teaching certification programs, these new computer teachers are often mentored by an experienced teacher until they earn full certification.
High school teacher salary and employment projections
The median salary for all high school teachers across the United States ranges from $42,000 to about $55,000 annually, based on estimates from 2010 to 2013. Average salaries on online sites vary according to the title, with computer teacher and computer science teacher on the higher end.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: $55,050 (all high school teachers)
- SimplyHired.com: $48,000
- Glassdoor.com: $44,731
- Indeed.com: $32,000 to $73,000
Employment for high school teachers is stable, according to the BLS. But the demand for high school math and science teachers, including technology and computer science teachers, is growing. In certain expanding U.S. regions, such as the Southeast, Southwest and West, the BLS projects robust job growth for all high school teachers. Nationally, the BLS estimates a 6 percent growth rate for high school teachers through 2022.
Pros and cons of being a high school computer technology teacher
- Working with mature students who are highly focused, ambitious and dedicated to improving the future makes a job as a high school computer technology teacher gratifying
- Spotting, nurturing and encouraging the next generation of social media founders, search engine developers and e-commerce CEOs makes teaching high school computing personally rewarding
- Engaging with students tackling real-world problems makes a computer technology teacher’s job one of the most important careers today
- Advanced high school computer technology students can be precocious, impatient and demanding, while students who struggle with computing and information technology are sometimes disruptive
- School leaders, policymakers and taxpayers sometimes fail to recognize the importance of high school computing courses and neglect to support economic resources for technology hardware and interconnectivity
- Wages for high school computer technology teachers are disproportionately lower than they are for similar positions in the private sector and at local, state and federal government agencies
Postsecondary/college computer science teachers
College students — whether they’re enrolled in engineering programs or biology graduate studies or they’re postdoctoral candidates in economics — typically require some level of computer programming knowledge as a prerequisite to earn their degrees. This makes the job of postsecondary computer science teachers vital to every institution of higher learning across the United States. From mechanical engineers and graphic artists to future library/archival majors and tomorrow’s city planners, the study of computer science on some level is becoming imperative for most college students.Continue reading to learn more about postsecondary/college computer science teachers
- What do postsecondary college science teachers do?
- Educational and certification requirements
- Salary and employment projections
- Pros and cons of being a postsecondary college science teacher
With today’s lively debate surrounding artificial intelligence and the potential displacement of jobs, the surest way to leverage the advantages of modern technology is to learn how to program computers. Postsecondary computer science teachers, therefore, serve an essential role in training tomorrow’s professional workforce to learn the language of computing.
Postsecondary computer science teacher job description
Postsecondary computer science teachers work at a range of professional technical schools, junior colleges, universities and state and private learning institutions. They have more flexibility over the format of their instructional methods than their K-12 counterparts. They also have more flexible work schedules, with many postsecondary instructors teaching part time, as well as full time, or alternating between both. Those with tenure may even take occasional sabbaticals or official leaves of absence to conduct research.
Postsecondary computer science teachers have fewer classroom management functions and procedural responsibilities to worry about than their primary or secondary school counterparts. However, they are expected to devote significant time to preparing lectures and assignments. In addition, they grade papers and projects, evaluate student progress, and provide individual guidance to undergrads and graduate students.
And, specific to university professors:
- Conduct research to advance knowledge in their field; publish original research and analysis in books and academic journals
- Supervise graduate students who are working toward doctoral degrees; offer guidance and leadership to assist students with research projects
- Stay current with relevant theories, best practices and discoveries within their fields of expertise and share findings with students when appropriate
- Serve on academic and administrative committees; work with school leaders, department associates and administrative staff on policy decisions to improve curriculum and school performance
In addition to being computational experts, postsecondary computer science instructors must take an objective, pragmatic and ethical approach to their profession. A postsecondary computer science teacher, for instance, may offer advanced courses on artificial intelligence that can lead to career displacement for entire industries while simultaneously offering ethical guidance for tomorrow’s technology leaders.
Along with advanced programming, coding and data structure systems, postsecondary computer science teachers may assist students in the use of computers to streamline businesses and improve profitability, advance medical and science research, and rethink public infrastructure planning.
There are dozens of specialized programs within college and university computer science departments. Each offers specific areas of concentration for students to focus on as future career options.
Some postsecondary computer technology teaching specializations include:
- Software engineering
- Information systems architecture
- Informatics and data analytics
- Robotics and machine learning
- Human-computer interaction
- Language simulation technologies
- Arts and music technologies
- Computer-aided design
- Computational biology
What about teaching computer science online?
With the growing demand for online college courses, postsecondary teachers have more career options available. Computer technology classes are a perfect fit for online learning, where much of the coursework leverages an online platform, replacing the computer lab. In addition, instructors have a captive audience of early adopters who are comfortable working virtually and predisposed to using video and audio conferencing hardware and software to facilitate face-to-face communications and screen sharing.
Many online instructors work in adjunct teaching roles. This means they’re hired on a contract basis and are compensated per course. Some online adjunct teachers are given several courses for single or multiple schools and work enough hours to be considered full time.
How to become a postsecondary computer technology teacher: educational requirements
Educational requirements for computer science teachers vary with the type of educational institution. Postsecondary teachers who work at four-year colleges and universities are usually required to hold a doctoral degree in their field. However, some schools may hire instructors with master’s degrees. Those who are doctoral candidates may be given part-time positions at some colleges.
Instructors with master’s degrees hold the majority of full-time teaching positions at two-year colleges. Educators with dual master’s degrees have an advantage because they can teach more than one subject. Many two-year institutions prefer applicants with experience in distance learning or online teaching.
Doctoral programs generally take six to eight years to complete, including time spent earning a master’s degree, conducting research and writing a doctoral dissertation. It is fairly common for students in some fields to conduct postdoctoral research for two more years before they seek a full-time faculty position at a college or university.
Postsecondary/college computer technology teacher salary and employment projections
BLS data for postsecondary computer science teachers lists a median salary of $72,200 for 2013. The BLS statistics cover computer teachers working within colleges, universities and professional schools at the local and state levels, and for private institutions. On average, university and four-year college teachers earn higher salaries than their counterparts at junior colleges.
Salaries vary widely, depending on the title and the university. Tenure-track computer science professors at research universities tend to receive the highest salaries.
- HigherEdJobs: $78,962 for a new assistant professor to $106,568 for a professor
- Glassdoor.com: $83,490 for an assistant professor
- Salary.com: $55,356 to $201,137, with a median of $105,338
- PayScale.com: $31,000 to $102,000, with an average of $47,748
- SimplyHired.com: $49,000
Employment of postsecondary computer science teachers is projected to grow 13 percent through 2022, according to BLS data.
- Junior colleges (private and public): 8%. Annual mean wage of $67,280
- Colleges and universities (private and public): 4%. Annual mean wage of $89,950
- Technical and trade schools (private): 7%. Annual mean wage of $63,750
- Educational support services (public state): 6%. Annual mean wage of $67,980
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
A note on tenure: For postsecondary teachers, a significant goal in the traditional academic career is the attainment of tenure — a contractual agreement that protects a professor from being fired without just cause. The process can take up to seven years of moving up the ranks in tenure-track positions. The ranks are assistant professor, associate professor and professor. Tenure is granted through a review of the candidate’s research work, contributions to the institution and overall teaching performance. However, institutions are increasingly relying on limited-term and part-time faculty contracts. Consequently, fully tenured positions and positions on a tenure track are declining.
Pros and cons of being a college computer science teacher
- Working with extremely dedicated young adults who are committed to computer science and other technology degrees is personally gratifying
- Achieving a full-time computer science teaching position at a college or university of higher learning is professionally rewarding and vital to developing consistent department policies and curriculum
- Participating in research and development for computer technologies is stimulating, with opportunities to perform work that is not possible in other environments
- Institutions of higher learning are extremely competitive; opportunities for advancement are sometimes stymied, and internal politics make career growth challenging
- Budget restrictions and administrative procedures can preoccupy and overwhelm postsecondary teachers, diminish morale and distract them from the purpose of teaching
- Salaries for postsecondary teachers with master’s degrees or PhD’s is relatively low compared to their counterparts within the private sector and among government agencies
Professional development for computer science teachers
Professional associations for computer instructors offer numerous webinars, correspondence courses, single-day seminars, symposiums and other continuing education platforms. These professional development opportunities help teachers advance their knowledge of technology subjects, improve teaching skills and broaden their scope of educational best practices. These are great forums for enhancing one’s understanding of technological concepts while meeting like-minded professionals.
The Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) offers an array of opportunities to expand continuing education knowledge, news about industry trends and best practices. The CSTA has state chapters that offer curriculum guidance covering broad subjects for K-12 computer technology education. The CSTA also has a program dedicated to K-8 learning, which it describes as building a solid foundation in computer science.
Along with professional non-profit associations, a host of for-profit companies provide online resources for computer science teachers. These corporations sponsor online technology courses, workshops and learning events. They award monetary grants, equipment and scholarships for computer science teachers and students alike. These companies — including Oracle, Microsoft, Google, Apple, Facebook, Cisco, IBM and HP — have a vested interest in supporting computer science education. They recognize that tomorrow’s high-tech workforce rests in the hands of today’s computer science teachers.
Educators who take advantage of learning programs and resources sponsored by private companies are more likely to be on the leading edge when it comes to computer technology learning. Networking with high-tech companies benefits students, as well as schools, and enhances the teacher’s professional reputation within the realm of computer science education.
Benefits of continuing education
BLS statistics indicate that professionals with a master’s degree have a greater chance for receiving promotions and obtaining raises. This is particularly true for public school teachers who are rewarded for continuing education efforts based on a preset pay scale that recognizes advanced degrees. The difference in salary between a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree for a novice teacher is $3,000 annually; after 10 years of experience, the bump increases to $4,500, according to BLS data.
For computer science teachers seeking full-time positions at the postsecondary level, an advanced degree is usually mandatory for advancement.
For high school technology teachers, obtaining a master’s degree is a smart career move for several reasons.
- Mandatory salary classifications for public, and some private, schools include pay increases for teachers with advanced degrees.
- An advanced degree broadens a teacher’s knowledge, expands expertise and commands respect from peers and students.
- An advanced degree gives teachers more career options. For example, a technology teacher at a STEM-focused high school — sometimes referred to as a science and technology academy — may seek a position as assistant principal.
If the teacher earns an advanced degree in computer science, he or she may opt to move up to the postsecondary education level or seek a position in the private sector — perhaps as a corporate training manager, virtual classroom instructor, IT director or other position that values leadership, inclusiveness and instructional skills teachers with master’s degrees typically possess.
What kinds of graduate programs can help computer technology teachers?
Studies reveal strong, positive correlations between a teacher’s subject-specific expertise and student achievement in classrooms. These findings suggest that not all degrees are created equal, and that computer teachers seeking opportunities for graduate studies should look for programs that help elevate their technology expertise.
For teachers interested in pursuing advanced degrees, the computer is ideally suited as a supplement to research and development. Computer science teachers who are contemplating graduate studies within their field should consider a program specific to their area of teaching. Primary incentives include expanding knowledge of particular subjects — like data analytics, informatics, computational biology, robotics and software engineering. Online coursework also helps teachers remain competitive in the job market.
For computer teachers who are considering an education master’s degree, grade level, curriculum and educational leadership are three primary considerations.
- K-8 computer technology teachers may want to expand their knowledge of a particular subject such as website development, social media communications, blog posting and the privacy/ethical considerations of each.
- High school computer teachers may seek knowledge about computer programming by taking courses in code writing, software development and the latest developments in voice-recognition technology to stay ahead of the curve.
- Postsecondary computer science teachers might want to obtain a second master’s degree in a growing field like informatics or network security as a springboard toward a PhD in education that could lead to a role as a department leader.
Professional associations for computer technology teachers
- Computer Science Teachers Association
- International Society for Technology in Education
- American Society for Engineering Education
- Association of Information Technology Professionals
- Computing Research Association
- Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education
- Digital Analytics Association
Related careers: jobs for computer technology teachers beyond teaching
Computer technology teachers are analytical and objective thinkers. They possess a logical frame of reference grounded in fact-based results that prompts them to be inquisitive and skeptical. They have a natural inclination for identifying similarities and differences in groups and are predisposed to solving problems. They are trained to follow procedures, break problems down into their component parts and arrive at exact answers.
This makes them well-suited for careers that tap into their computer education backgrounds. Careers for computer teachers looking to transition into other fields include:
- Data analyst for a private corporation or association
- Information technology specialist or senior IT officer
- Computer systems programmer
- Information technology architect
- Application designer or developer for a software firm
- Telecommunications specialist
- Informatics officer for a healthcare or biotech firm
- Network security officer for a government agency
- Marketing director or SEO specialist
- Website developer for a private company or non-profit
- Health, life or automobile insurance analyst
Best of the Web: our favorite computer technology teacher websites and Twitter handles
The web is ideal for computer technology teachers as a tool for research, lesson planning and presentations. Here are some useful websites and Twitter resources:
Favorite websites for computer technology teachers
- It’s About Time
- National Science Foundation
- Exploring Computer Science Teacher Program
- Tech Ed
Favorite computer technology teacher blogs
- Computer Science Teacher
- Ask a Tech Teacher
- NCS K4 STEMLAB
- STEM Crazy Teachers
- Daniel Lemire
- Jason’s Computer Science Blog
- Cool Cat Teacher
Favorite computer technology teacher Twitter handles
- Rich Kiker: @rkiker
- Mary Beth Hertz: @mbteach
- Thomas Daccord: @thomasdaccord
- Angela Watson: @Angela_Watson
- Chris Champion: @chrischampion
- Daniel Moix: @moixland
- Scott McLeod: @mcleod
- Ms. Computer Teacher: @mscomputerteach