American Association for Employment in Education

Teacher Supply and Demand in the United States

Preliminary Report (excerpts):  November 1999

United States' college students perusing the many fields and professional possibilities need look no further than teaching as a career.  In terms of employment opportunities and future stability, the teaching profession is constantly in need of the best and the brightest.  Currently, kindergarten through twelfth grade teachers are in great demand across the country (AAEE, 1998, 1999; NCES, 1998).  Moreover, the number of teachers needed in U.S. classrooms in projected to rise between 12 and 14 percent by the year 2008.  The nearly 3.5 million teachers will be needed to educate the approximately 55 million school-age children predicted by the year (Hussar & Gerald, 1996; NCES, 1998).  With such need, the future appears bright for any would-be teacher.  Nevertheless, both future teachers and the universities and colleges that produce them must examine the profession more closely to truly understand what teaching fields are well supplied and what teachers are truly in demand.

The issue of teacher supply and demand is much more complex than it appears at the surface.  It goes beyond simply comparing the number of yearly vacancies to the number of newly prepared teachers (Snyder, Doerr, & Pastor, 1995).  An effective inquiry into teacher supply and demand necessitates that certain concepts be clearly understood and defined:  teacher shortage, teacher surplus, and education market equilibrium or balance.  The arithmetic for each is fairly straightforward.  In any region, state, city, district, or school, if more qualified teachers are needed than available, a teacher shortage exists.  The polar situation with more qualified teachers than needed results in a teacher surplus.  Either present s a dangerous predicament for the surrounding society.  Teacher shortages shortchange children and the education system through lack of qualified teachers.  In many cases, this leads to larger class sizes and in some cases poorer instruction quality.  Teacher surpluses harm the surrounding society through unemployment, citizen flight due to lack of employment, and/or disgruntled personnel in professions out-of-field.  Education market equilibrium is the goal.  This balance presents the rare case in which teacher education institutions are preparing the appropriate types and numbers of teachers needed to meet school district needs (Towner-Larsen, 1998).

At a global level, the concepts of teacher supply and demand are easily explained.  Nevertheless, the phenomenon is painted with a broad-brush stroke that needs further explanation.  Further and more in-depth examination shows that it is necessary to take into account the number of teachers required and the number of teachers available with consideration to three other important variables.  First, specific subject matter requires that teachers be trained for that area.  For example, a school or school district in need of a math teacher cannot simply hire a teacher prepared to teach social studies.  Second, during pre-service programs, teachers are usually prepared for different levels including early elementary, middle school or junior high, and secondary or high school.  In our same example, that school might need a teacher prepared to teach 9th grade math which requires a substantially different knowledge base and skills than the 6th grade social studies teacher available was trained for or possesses.  Finally, not all regions (region, rural, urban, etc.) and areas of the country have teacher preparation programs nearby or are necessarily the most desirable for relocation (Ingersoll, 1994).  For example, a school set i n an urban versus a suburban area in Ohio compared with the in California would have very different needs and different probabilities of attracting qualified candidates.  Thus, there might be a national shortage of teachers, while there exists a surplus within a specific stratum.

Teacher Supply and Demand by Field in Region Eight and Nationally (2002)

Certificate Title Region Eight Demand National Demand
Reading some shortage some shortage
Counselor Education some shortage some shortage
Elementary - Pre-K balanced demand balanced demand
Elementary - Kindergarten balanced demand balanced demand
Elementary - Primary balanced demand balanced demand
Elementary - Intermediate balanced demand balanced demand
English balanced demand balanced demand
Home Econ./Consumer Sciences some shortage some shortage
Language - French balanced demand balanced demand
Language - Spanish some shortage some shortage
Mathematics considerable shortage considerable shortage
Physics considerable shortage considerable shortage
Science - Biology some shortage some shortage
Science - Earth Science some shortage some shortage
Social Sciences/Studies some surplus balanced demand
Source:    2002 Job Search Handbook For Educators, American Association for Employment in Education.

Data were generated by the AAEE Supply/Demand Research Committee, whose members are college and university career service officers and school district human resource administrators.  

Related Links

The Putnam/Northern Westchester Board of Cooperative Educational Services - Located in Yorktown Heights, New York, it represents eighteen local school districts.

Project Connect - Gain direct access to national teaching vacancies via the WWW.  You will need to enter the special username [teacher] and password [aswan] to get access.  This link will connect you to Project Connect through AAEE's web site.

State Level Education Web Sites - An incredible resource to locate state education resources.

New York City School System - A resource to locate information and position vacancies in the city. - A partner of AACTE to help preservice students and alumni find teaching positions in school districts across the country.

School District Data Book Profiles (1989 - 1990) - A little dated, but it is still a good resource.

Other Helpful Sites:

America's Job Bank - Lots of teaching positions are listed, but there are no expiration dates.

Occupational Outlook (2004 - 2005) - A handbook from the Department of Labor.

JobWeb - Sponsored by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.