Teaching & Instruction

Jump to a section:

Roles and Work Environment

When most people hear the word teaching, they automatically think of K-12 schools, and are usually most familiar with their own school background. K-12 schools can be very different work environments, depending on where the school is located, the type of population a teacher is serving, how the school is funded, and more. Here are some examples of K-12 work environments:

However, K-12 schools aren’t the only work environment for teachers. You may consider being a university professor, teaching abroad, pre-k education, or adult education.

Skills and Training

The most straightforward way to becoming a teacher is to enroll in a teacher education program, like the one in the School of Education & Human Development at UVA. However, there are multiple ways you can transition to a teaching career. Here are a few additional avenues you can pursue:

  • Applying for a teaching residency program
  • Teaching in a private or independent school
  • Attending graduate school or alternative routes to teaching licensure

Most alternative pathways require a bachelor’s degree, preferably in the subject the applicant wants to teach in. Make sure you check teaching license requirements of the state in which you want to teach - they can vary by location. The School of Education has great information about how to become a teacher in Virginia and how to become a licensed school counselor in Virginia that can help you get started. 

Teaching Residencies

You don’t need a teaching certification or education background to apply for a teaching residency, but many look for at least some relevant courses or experience with kids. Teacher residency programs are a hybrid of a full-year classroom apprenticeship with graduate-level education content, often focusing on bringing in quality recent grads to teach in areas of high need. There are a lot of different types of teaching residency programs. Some provide short-term training while others pair a teacher-in-training with a mentor teacher. Many residencies require trainees to work toward a master’s degree in education, which is provided as part of the program. Some ask applicants to commit to teaching in a specific district for three or more years beyond the residency, creating a teacher pipeline. Others only require a short-term one or two-year commitment. Come chat with a counselor to talk about what program is right for you.

Independent and Private Schools

While it varies by institution, for most private schools, you don’t need a license to teach to apply for a job! They often hire uncertified teachers who have some sort of experience or background in a specific field, for example, having an undergraduate history major or master’s in English. Since private schools do not adhere to the same state regulations/requirements, they are also more flexible in their curriculum. Teachers are often expected to wear many hats and may be assigned responsibilities to coach sports, handle administrative work, or serve as resident faculty in dorms beyond their time in the classroom.

Graduate School or Teaching Licensure Programs

If you are graduating with a degree in something other than education and are interested in teaching in public school, you may want to look into a master’s program in education. If you have a lot of courses you need already, you may be interested in completing extra courses through an alternative path to teaching licensure. Some school districts will allow you to work using a provisional license, which is a temporary license that allows you to teach while finishing the coursework and requirements you need for permanent licensure (if you meet certain requirements). 

Industry Timeline

If you are applying to work in a school system or university, most teaching positions will hire based on the academic year. This means that they will be hiring in the spring semester and even into the summer for positions starting in the fall semester.

Find Opportunities



Substitute teaching offers a flexible schedule and can be a great way to gain valuable classroom experience and learn about what age groups you are most interested in teaching. In the Charlottesville area, you can start by applying to substitute teach in Charlottesville City Schools and Albemarle County Public Schools.

Teaching Residency and Americorps programs

Public Schools

Private and Independent Schools

Teaching Abroad Programs and Resources

There are many ways you can teach abroad, whether it's through a fellowship, structured program, the Department of Defense or an international school. Some students also may want to consider a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certification. Check out our Teaching Abroad page for more programs, resources, and information.

If you are an international student looking to teach in the United States, you need to investigate options for an H1-B Visa. Visa regulations are subject to change so make sure to do your research, but you can check out H-1B Visas for Teachers (SGM Law Group) to get started. 

Applying and Interviewing

Resumes and Cover Letters

Resumes and cover letters are important first impressions in your job application, and contain vital information about your skills and background. Make sure to check out the Resumes and Cover Letters section of the website for helpful advice and sample resumes and cover letters. When applying for teaching positions, there are a few specific things to keep in mind.

Resume vs. CV

What is the difference between a resume and Curriculum Vitae (CV)? When do you use each type? Typically, a resume is used for most industry positions, including K-12 teaching positions. A CV is typically used for graduate school applications and positions in academia. While a resume is typically one page and focuses on experience and skills, a CV is more comprehensive and may span many pages. In addition to sections, you may see on a resume, a CV may include/focus on information such as coursework, research experience, teaching experience, publications, conferences, and professional associations.

However, some organizations use the terms resume and CV interchangeably. If you are unsure which to submit, contact someone at the organization to make sure you are using the correct type of document. You can have both resumes and CVs reviewed by a career counselor at the UVA Career Center.


Make sure to list all certifications and endorsements on your resume and when you expect to receive them. Employers will want to know your areas of expertise, and K-12 public schools require teaching certifications or endorsements, depending on your role. These certifications should be listed in your Education section or a separate section at the top of your resume. See examples below.

  • Master of Teaching. Elementary Education with Certification Grades K-8, May 2015
  • M. Ed. in Counselor Education - Secondary School Certification (anticipated May 2015)

Interests and Skills

The Interests and/or Skills section on your resume is a great place to identify additional skills that would be valuable for teaching positions. Examples of interests and skills might include:

  • Foreign language
  • Technology skills
  • CPR, First Aid or other general certifications
  • Interest in coaching sports or sponsoring certain clubs (K-12 teaching positions)
  • Interest in working with particular populations/cultures


Electronic portfolios are valuable tools that showcase your work to employers. If you are enrolled in a formal Education program, you will likely create an E-portfolio. You can list the link to your electronic portfolio on a resume so that employers can easily and quickly view your accomplishments in your field. Looking for a place to start? SquareSpace, Wix and Weebly offer free tools to build a custom website. Not sure what to include? Here are examples of things you could highlight in an E-portfolio:

  • Teaching/Counseling Philosophy
  • Work Samples (lesson plans, projects, grant proposals, multimedia items)
  • Professional Development (conferences, training)
  • Awards/Recommendations


If you have never interviewed before, make sure to check out the interviewing section of our website. You can also conduct a mock interview with a career counselor for practice. If you attend Education Expo or another career fair, you could be asked to interview with a school system on the spot, so make sure you are always prepared! Here are some sample interview questions:

K-12 Teaching:

  • Describe your philosophy and approach to classroom management.

  • Give me an example of how you integrate technology into the classroom.

  • How do you handle discipline problems?

  • Define cooperative learning and give an example of how you use it.

  • How do you involve parents in the learning process?

Additional Industry Resources

Blogs and Industry Research

Professional Associations

Alumni Spotlight

Kyle McCartin graduated from UVA in 2012 and 2013 and went on to work as a Resource Teacher at Bishop O'Connell High School. The EYD team spoke with Kyle in the fall of 2020 about his career journey and what led him to teaching - read about the conversation here!

More to Explore

Virtual Drop-In Hours: Wednesday,12-2pm 

One-on-One Counseling: Select "Education & Youth Development" from the Handshake appointment...

Connect with alumni for insights about the process of choosing and starting a career in their specific field. 

Country-specific career and employment database with information on work permit/visas, resume writing tips, cultural advice, and corporate profiles.