While classics majors pursue a wide variety of careers in a wide variety of fields—as we hope this guide has demonstrated—some classics majors decide that they are most excited to share their love of the ancient world with a new generation. A classics major can be a great pathway to a career in teaching Latin (and other humanities-based disciplines). Moreover, there is a great need for Latin teachers in many states, as you can see on the website of the U.S. Department of Education. If you think you might be interested in investigating this possibility further, read on.
In order to teach Latin, you will need to become licensed to teach. You need to know that the rules, requirements, licensing procedures, requirements for professional status once licensure has been achieved, and even the vocabulary surrounding teaching certification can all vary substantially. Each state has its own set of rules for public school teachers and it is well worth your time to investigate the Department of Education website in the state where you anticipate teaching. The requirements at private schools can be as variable as the schools themselves. Some schools may not require that you be licensed by the state or will allow you to start teaching so long as you are working toward certification (often on a three-year provisional license) but, increasingly, these schools require that the teachers they hire be already licensed.
The rules of teaching licensure change all the time, so make sure your information is up to date when you are making your plans. This guide to state certification requirements compiled by the Society for Classical Studies offers a state-by-state list recent as of 2017.
Along with the basic licensing requirements, you will need to investigate a few other questions.
- What do you need to be qualified to teach in order to teach Latin? In many states you can get qualified to teach Latin specifically, but in others you may need an endorsement in “foreign languages” or “world languages and cultures.” Keep in mind that it can help you in your job search if you are qualified in an additional subject area (e.g. history, Spanish), allowing you to turn a part-time position into a full-time one, or to teach other subjects as needed if the number of Latin students in your area fluctuates. In some schools (especially private and classical charter schools) it may also be possible to teach ancient Greek, though this is relatively rare. However, many teachers choose to start a Greek program by offering to teach beginning Greek as an extracurricular course.
- What age group do you want to teach? Some states certify Latin teachers at all levels but in some you may only be able to teach 7-12 or 9-12 (though private schools may not necessarily follow state practice in this matter).
- Is there a test you need to pass in order to qualify to teach Latin? Some states will accept a certain number of courses/credit hours as proof of your subject expertise, but many will have additional exams you need to pass.
- Are you sure you want to teach Latin? This might seem like a strange question, but it’s worth asking. We recommend that you talk things over with somebody who is currently teaching Latin where you plan to teach (geographically and, if possible, in age group and type of school) to get a sense for whether this is the right path for you. If you can observe a Latin class in action, so much the better.
For more information about the skills you will need to demonstrate in order to become qualified to teach Latin, we invite you to explore these standards for Latin teacher preparation which lay out three main areas of competence: content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, and professional development.
Paths to Teaching Licensure
Become licensed to teach Latin concurrently with your classics degree. There are lots of different ways to do this and which one you pursue will depend on what your school supports. Two common pathways are to either complete an additional major in education or to obtain a Latin teaching license through the education department at your school.
Depending on what your school offers in terms of teacher training, this can be tough to get done in four or even five years. You will have to plan carefully, especially if you want to travel abroad and/or leave room for electives. It may even be impossible to obtain a teaching license during your undergraduate years if there are too many scheduling conflicts between required classics and education courses. However, if you know early that you want to pursue a K-12 teaching career, this is an efficient and money-saving option worth investigating.
Bear in mind that not every education department is experienced in preparing students to teach Latin since it’s a relatively niche subject area. If you want to pursue this path, you should make sure you start having conversations with the relevant people (the education department, the classics department) early.
Become licensed to teach after you obtain your BA. Depending on what state you want to work in, the pathway from BA to teaching license will vary. In some cases, you may only need a few additional education courses, in others, you may need to complete a more substantial teaching preparation program. Explore the teaching certification requirements by state to find out how to proceed if you have a BA but no major in education or teaching license.
Bear in mind that your classics classes will usually serve as the subject-specific courses that qualify you to teach Latin. You will likely have to produce a transcript and may need to follow up with course syllabi to prove your competence in this particular subject area (the classics faculty at your school can help you with this).
Complete a Master’s Degree. In some states, an MEd (Master of Education) or an MAT (Master of Arts in Teaching) can serve as an alternative form of teacher certification. Make sure that your state accepts this credential before you commit to a program inside or outside of the state where you want to work.
Remember that it is increasingly possible to do master’s programs online. However, be aware that dedicated in-class Latin MAT programs tend to provide much more subject-area content than online MAT or MEd programs.
Keep in mind that some states require a certain number of years of teaching experience before it is possible to enter a master’s program. In other states, teachers are specifically required to achieve their master’s degree before or after they have begun teaching. Be sure to check the relevant state Department of Education website for their specific requirements.
Once you are licensed
Once you have the necessary credentials (or, better yet, a few months before you finish), it’s time to start looking for a job. We recommend that you check out our sister career guide for graduate students, which has a lot of great advice about how to position yourself for the job market and make connections with schools who need Latin teachers.
The American Classical League maintains a website with current Latin teacher openings across the U.S. and beyond. School Spring is a national site that posts teaching positions and facilitates application for teaching jobs in all fifty states. Your state classical association may also send out emails to its members about local openings, including short-term or part-time positions that may not be posted on these other sites.
Keep in mind that, while your license allows you to apply for positions, in some cases, you may be required to obtain additional qualifications from the state/board as one of the conditions of your job offer. This can include courses/tests on subjects as varied as literacy, child welfare reporting, Native American history, and learning disabilities.
It’s also worth mentioning that getting licensed in one state does not automatically qualify you to teach in any state. In most cases there will be additional paperwork and/or course work required before you can become authorized to teach elsewhere.
If you have questions about teaching, the job market, and pedagogical methods, there are many Facebook groups for Latin teachers where you can network and ask questions, and conferences (including the annual American Classical League Institute) provide great opportunities to network and further your professional development.
 We note that this guide is directed primarily at those who plan to teach Latin in the U.S. The information here will certainly help you think about what questions you should be asking if you are investigating the possibility of teaching Latin somewhere else, but keep in mind that the demand for Latin teachers and the path to teaching certification may be significantly different in Canada or the U.K. or New Zealand etc.