Not only do you want to teach children, you know where you specifically want to work: Instead of working in a public district, you want to teach at a private Christian school. Private religious schools are less numerous in the United Sates than public ones. This means that there aren't as many teaching jobs. Understanding the route to becoming a Christian teacher can help you to get the training that you need and land a job that works with your beliefs and values.
License and Certification
Unlike public school teachers, private school educators don't necessarily need to have a license or certification, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This may mean that as a private Christian school teacher, you don't have to meet your state's requirements for teacher certification, including educational, testing and internship requisites. That said, teaching in a private school still demands professional expertise. Just because your state doesn't make you get a license to teach in a Christian school doesn't mean the individual educational institution won't. Some religious institutions require certification specific to their own values. For example, the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh offers Catholic school teacher certification. The certification program requires teachers to take four classes -- in Catholic education philosophy, morality, sacraments and creed -- within the first two years after being hired.
You'll need a minimum of a bachelor's degree before you apply for a job as a private Christian school teacher. Depending on the school, you may need an instruction or teaching degree such as elementary or secondary education. Some schools may also want you to have subject-specific education if you are teaching special content such as art, physical education, a foreign language or science. You may also need a certificate or degree from a specific religious sect. For example, Concordia University, Irvine in California offers a Lutheran teacher certificate. Teachers applying for jobs in schools that fall under the Archdiocese of Newark must be practicing Catholics.
Working at a private Christian school means that you need to either already have the same beliefs and values of the religion or have the ability to teach with that intent in mind. For example, if you're a biology teacher you may need to teach your students about creation instead of evolution. Some schools -- and teacher training programs -- require educators to be a member of the faith. Concordia University, Irvine's Lutheran teacher certificate program, is only open to members of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.
Associations and Organizations
Joining an association specifically for Christian educators or Christian education can help you find resources, get professional training in religious studies and give you access to jobs. For example, the Christian Educators Association International provides support for teachers working in Christian private schools, seminars, resources and even supplemental insurance, and the National Catholic Educational Association offers professional development opportunities. Some organizations, such as the Association of Christian Teachers and Schools, have online job boards that can help you to find a job.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: How to Become a Kindergarten or Elementary School Teacher
- Christian Educators Association International: Resources
- Christian Educators Association International: Benefits Overview
- Association of Christian Teachers and Schools: Career Center
- Concordia University of Irvine: Lutheran Teacher Certificate Requirements
- Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh: Catholic School Teacher Certification
- Archdiocese of Newark: Catholic School Employment Qualifications and Openings
- National Catholic Educational Association: Professional Learning
- National Center for Education Statistics: Number and Percentage Distribution of Teachers in Public and Private Elementary and Secondary Schools
Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.