Special Ed. The number of teachers in this specialty is forecast to rise almost 15% by 2016. At some schools (e.g., Vanderbilt University's Peabody College), many students are fully funded through U.S. Department of Ed grants. Foreign Languages. The student population is increasingly diverse. ¿Hablas español?
Many states offer financial incentives for students willing to work in hard-to-staff subject or geographic areas. The Kansas Teacher Service Scholarship offers $5,000 toward each year of graduate school. Other programs pay up after a year (or more) in the classroom. California's National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Certification Incentive Program pays out $20,000 over a four-year period. The American Federation of Teachers lists teacher scholarship and loan forgiveness programs at aft.org.
Average national base salary for full-time teachers: $49,026 · Highest: California, $59,825, and Connecticut, $59,304; lowest: South Dakota, $34,709 · Looking beyond the paycheck, remember that teacher retirement, coupled with increasing public school enrollment, is spurring demand, especially in the South and West. Good bets: Nevada, Texas, Georgia, Arizona · Want some respect? In a national survey of 23 professions, teaching was rated one of the "most prestigious occupations." Only firefighters were held in higher regard
Used to a Lab Coat? Between now and 2015, American elementary and secondary schools are expected to need 280,000 new math and science teachers. Expertise in these subject areas is notoriously hard to find—so if you've got it, you have a valuable resource that will make you a widely attractive candidate.
Switch the Scenery. It's much harder to find positions in wealthy or suburban areas than in rural areas or inner cities. A change of scenery could boost your job prospects.
Take the Praxis. The test is required for teacher certification in many states and at an increasing number of ed schools. Check out the ETS website for tips and sample questions: www.ets.org.
It's All About Attitude. Looking good on paper isn't enough. Performance is an important aspect of teaching, and many schools are looking for poised candidates with some social seasoning. Cultivate your interpersonal skills.