How to Become a Business Teacher


Individuals and professionals at all levels can benefit from understanding basic concepts associated with finance, marketing, management and other disciplines touched upon in a business course or program. Given the importance of business education, students often have the option to take business electives as early as middle school. With the proper credentials, business educators are hired to teach a growing spectrum of courses on topics ranging from finance computing and entrepreneurship to marketing and economics.

Most business teachers earn at least a four-year degree, and have taken a mixture of required and elective courses that typically include Economics, Finance, Management, Marketing, Mathematics, and Statistics. With their background, schools hire certified or licensed educators to teach courses related to business administration and management, which provides an introduction to or builds a foundation for students interested in accounting, finance, marketing, labor and industrial relations, and/or human resources.

Overall, depending on the level of education, expectations for business teachers range from holding a bachelor’s degree, to possessing an advanced degree such as an MBA or PhD. In many cases, work-related experience in business and fulfilling state-mandated requirements are also considered desirable or required for the occupation.

How can I become an elementary school business teacher? 

While business concepts may be introduced at the elementary school level, often coinciding with mathematics classwork, business courses are generally not part of the elementary school curriculum, and teachers are not hired to teach business at this level of education.

How can I become a middle school or high school business teacher?

Not all middle schools and high schools offer business courses to their students. However, business concepts are becoming increasingly significant on a nationwide level.

In middle school, business teachers are hired to provide an introduction to basic concepts in business and business computing with units that typically touch upon keyboarding and basic computing skills used in business, marketing, and entrepreneurship.

In high school, students may have a choice between a few business and business-related courses (such as economics) as electives. Teachers often cover fundamental aspects to increase a student’s understanding and navigation of the business world, including banking and financial transactions, economic and corporate business topics related to current events, and personal money management. Other courses focus on educating the student who wishes to major in business or pursue a career in business upon graduation.

Additionally, there are a handful of business-centric schools and academics throughout the nation which focus on primarily teaching business aspects to students. For example, the Business Careers High School in Texas is a magnet school which bases its curriculum on providing exposure to business professions and related fields, where students take classes in finance, business etiquette and technology.

While job candidates are expected to fulfill a specific set of state-mandated requirements to become a business teacher at a public middle or high school, the steps towards earning the proper credentials generally include the following:

Earn at least a bachelor’s degree in Business, Education, or Business Education. Some prospective teachers earn a bachelor’s degree in business (or a related subject such as economics or marketing) with an emphasis in education, or later complete their teaching requirements through an additional program. Others choose to double major in business and education.

A business education degree allows graduates to not only teach advanced economics, marketing and accounting to middle and high school students, but also touches upon various aspects of teaching methodology. In addition to taking business courses, students also complete coursework regarding lesson planning, classroom management, classroom technology, human development, and instructional methods.

Complete a student-teaching experience. At least one semester is spent fulfilling a specific number of student teaching hours (which varies according to degree program and state), where seasoned business teachers guide prospective educators through a supervised internship at a local school. During this time, valuable classroom experience is gained, where student-teachers observe classroom dynamics, prepare lessons, and eventually teach a class on their own.

Apply to become a licensed teacher. In order to qualify for a teaching position within the public school system, candidates must complete a licensure or certification process which varies by state. Graduates of an accredited degree program must be prepared to pass applicable exams; submit an application and school transcripts; pay appropriate license fees; and undergo a criminal background check.

Earn an advanced degree. Business teachers with a master’s degree in either business or education, and who have relevant work experience outside of the school system tend to qualify for a greater number of job positions, especially on the high school level.

How can I become a college business professor?

College business professors are typically expected to hold at least a master’s degree in their area of specialization, such as a Master of Business Administration, Master of Accountancy, or Master of Finance. Some employers also hire candidates based on their background and achievements; therefore, having several years of experience working in a business field is an asset. A master’s degree qualifies individuals to teach business in community colleges, technical schools, and/or adult education programs.

A college business professor teaches students who wish to earn an associate degree and/or bachelor’s degree in business administration, management, finance, human resources, and/or accounting. At this level, college professors are primarily tasked with equipping students with the skills and knowledge necessary to enter the job market immediately upon graduation.

How can I become a university business professor? 

A professor at a university may teach several different courses within the business department of a school, or in most large universities, are hired to teach at a separate business facility or school dedicated to educating students pursuing an undergraduate and/or graduate degree in fields related to accounting, finance, international business, management, and marketing.

While it is not uncommon for business faculties to invite business leaders who may or may not hold graduate degrees to teach courses and seminars on a visiting basis, full-time university business professors typically hold both a master’s degree and a PhD in business administration, management, economics, or a related field.

Business doctoral programs tend to offer two primary degree designations: PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) and the DBA (Doctor of Business Administration).

In business, the origin of a degree plays an important role in landing a position at a university. Generally, degrees from established private schools carry more currency on the job market than degrees from state universities and smaller private universities. For example, to qualify for a position at most universities and leading business schools, a doctorate in business, business education or a related major is required, which can take up to 6 additional years of schooling after earning a previous degree.

As a result, most university business professors have completed graduate coursework in a specific area of specialization, such as management or international business; have taken related field exams; and have written and defended a dissertation on a topic in business.

The time it takes to earn a doctoral degree in business is rather lengthy, and in an attempt to earn an income, PhD candidates often gain teaching experience, as well as extra benefits such as room and board, by obtaining a fellowship. Many universities hire graduate and doctoral candidates to teach undergraduate business courses. According to O*NET OnLine, 66% of business professors at the post-secondary level possessed a doctoral degree, while 25% held a master’s degree.

Full-time university business professors are expected to teach and mentor students; research and publish papers in academic journals; and present their research at academic conferences and related public events. Perhaps more than any other type of university professor, business professors are also regularly asked to share their insights with the general public.

Within the university environment, full-time business teacher opportunities are becoming increasingly harder to land, as more schools are opting to hire educators for part-time positions instead of offering tenure-track openings with a higher level of job stability. Tenure-track positions are usually granted to those with extensive business experience in addition to the terminal degree they hold.

What is the compensation and job outlook for business teachers?

A range of factors influence the overall compensation that a business teacher receives. The level of education that a business teacher completes (holding a bachelor’s degree versus a PhD); a place of employment (working at a middle school versus a leading business school); years of experience; and geographic elements not only play a role in salary figures, but also affects the number of jobs that a business teacher qualifies for.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the annual mean salaries for business teachers in 2014 pertaining to the level of education they provide include:

  • Career/technical education teachers (including business), middle school – $56,970
  • Career/technical education teachers (including business), high school – $57,370
  • Postsecondary vocational education teachers – $47,990
  • Technical or trade schools – $56,520
  • Business schools – $60,330
  • Junior colleges – $74,600
  • Colleges, universities and professional schools – $94,570

Geographic location also plays a role in the salary of a business teacher. In May 2014, the BLS identified the following as being the top-paying states for the postsecondary business teachers: Connecticut ($123,130), New Hampshire ($114,060), Massachusetts ($112,770), North Dakota ($104,850), and Kentucky ($101,570).

A rising demand for instructors to teach business-related subjects means the job outlook for business teachers is promising with job growth for business educators overall expected to experience around a 12 percent job growth rate from 2012 to 2022.

The residence of a business teacher can have an effect on the number of job prospects related to his or her specific area of expertise. Some school districts, cities and states demonstrate a greater need than others to hire business educators. Every year, the U.S. Department of Education releases a nationwide listing of teacher shortages, identifying the states and districts in need to hire educators capable of filling subject- and grade level positions. For example, Delaware was noted for experiencing a statewide shortage of business teachers for middle and high school position for the 2015/2016 academic year.

What are professional development options for business teachers?

Business teachers, who fulfil their continuing education courses, attend workshops and business-related events, are able to stay in line with the current trends of the field. Pursuing an advanced business degree, taking supplementary courses, and getting published not only creates a more attractive job candidate, but also allows a teacher to command a higher salary, in some cases.

Professional organizations and associations geared towards business educators also prove highly advantageous, providing a wealth of benefits ranging from valuable networking opportunities to educational resources, such as business journals and continuing education information. Business organizations also host conventions, workshops and conferences which aid in the career development of teachers.

One of the leading organizations for business teachers is the National Business Education Association (NBEA), which has developed business education standards asserting that business education courses and programs should develop students’ career awareness, enhance their ability to communicate in business settings, and further their understanding of business law and economics. The NBEA also holds the largest annual convention dedicated solely to the advancement of business education with membership open to all levels of professionals.

Middle and high school teachers especially benefit from becoming members of the Association for Career & Technical Education (ACTE). Known as the largest not-for-profit association devoted to the advancement of education that prepares youth and adults to succeed in their careers, ACTE is comprised of educators, administrators, researchers, and other professionals that represent all levels of education.

In conclusion, business teachers and professors are responsible for educating the future bankers, economists, accountants, small business owners, and budget analysts of the world. The type of education received has an impact on a graduate qualifying for specific job positions, earning a higher income, and future career development opportunities. A teacher who accepts a position on the intermediate and secondary school level educates middle school and high school students on the basic concepts of finance and general business. In colleges and universities, a professor typically has a specialization, such as business ethics, international business, entrepreneurship or real estate, and has completed more years of college to reach this level.

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