David Recine

Teacher Shortages by Content Area

As you may have heard in the news, the U.S. has a teacher shortage right now. If you’re thinking of becoming a teacher, this may be one reason to go into the profession. There are plenty of teaching jobs to be had right now.

Still, it’s important to ask yourself what kinds of teaching jobs are actually in demand. At the national level, teacher shortages are concentrated in certain content areas. In this post, we’ll look at the subject areas that are in the highest demand.


Special education

There’s a nationwide shortage of special education teachers because many people simply don’t want to work in this area. Teaching students with emotional disturbance or learning disabilities is demanding work. If you feel you can rise to this challenge as a teacher, you’ll find plenty of school districts willing to hire you. Nearly every school has some special education students, and they’re always looking for dedicated and caring professionals who are qualified to meet these learners’ unique needs.


ESL and Bilingual Instruction

America becomes more and more diverse every year. Each year, more multilingual groups of immigrants arrive in both big cities and smaller communities. School districts struggle to keep up with the demand for qualified teachers who can work with non-native English speakers.

For mixed-demographic classrooms, ESL content area licenses are in high demand. (The Praxis and some school districts alternatively refer to this content area as ELL.) There are also many school districts where nearly all of the non-native English speakers are from just one language group. In this case, schools may look for bilingual content area teachers, licensed educators who can speak fluently in two languages. Spanish-English bilingual teachers are in the highest demand in the US, but Chinese-English Speakers, Urdu-English Speakers, Russian-English speakers and so on may be in high demand in various school districts.


STEM Content

Every nation on earth wants to be competitive in the STEM disciplines—science, technology, engineering and math. And America is no exception. These subjects are emphasized in American K-12 education, especially at the middle and high school levels.

School districts are strongly encouraged to hire the best teachers they can for math and science content areas. Unfortunately, there is a real shortage of people willing to teach these rigorously challenging subjects. If you have a gift for math and science and a desire to teach, pursuing a STEM content area teaching degree could be well worth your while.


Other areas

If you don’t’ have a teaching certificate in the areas I listed above, take heart. Every state in the US has its own unique and ever-changing list of content area teacher shortages. The U.S. Department of Education keeps an annually updated list of teacher shortages by state. The list is long and detailed, but can provide a lot of insight into the teaching job markets for each state. Read through this guide carefully to see where your particular talents are most in-demand.



  • David Recine

    David is a Test Prep Expert for Magoosh TOEFL and IELTS. Additionally, he’s helped students with TOEIC, PET, FCE, BULATS, Eiken, SAT, ACT, GRE, and GMAT. David has a BS from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and an MA from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. His work at Magoosh has been cited in many scholarly articles, his Master’s Thesis is featured on the Reading with Pictures website, and he’s presented at the WITESOL (link to PDF) and NAFSA conferences. David has taught K-12 ESL in South Korea as well as undergraduate English and MBA-level business English at American universities. He has also trained English teachers in America, Italy, and Peru. Come join David and the Magoosh team on Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram, or connect with him via LinkedIn!

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