Teaching on Military Bases
With schools in seven states, 14 countries, Guam and Puerto Rico, the U.S. Department of Defense serves over 100,000 students and is hailed as one of the United States’ most successful school systems. Many new and underemployed teachers often do not think of this organization as an option when looking for a teaching position. However, the Department of Defense regularly hires teachers who are not necessarily associated with the military and who don’t have active-duty family members.
Why teach for the Department of Defense?
Who wouldn’t want to work for one of the highest performing school districts in the United States? According to Education World, Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) students perform very well on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, despite having high mobility and poverty rates. The schools and staff are known for having high expectations, with a 97 percent graduation rate and most students moving on to pursue higher education. Teachers also express satisfaction with the higher pay rates (comparable to urban areas), less student disciplinary issues, regular professional development opportunities and decent classroom supply budgets. Teachers also have opportunities to travel to other countries, with schools based in Europe and the Pacific.
The Department of Defense offers a comprehensive package of benefits, including good starting pay. A new teacher with a bachelor’s degree and no teaching experience starts at $39,775, and rates increase based on experience and education. Department of Defense educators are also entitled to life insurance, government-subsidized health insurance, membership in one of two retirement systems, a living allowance and sometimes even housing. Teachers agree to serve a “tour of duty” of one to two years.
Department of Defense schools operate like other American school systems, with similar schedules, course requirements and standardized testing. The primary difference is that there are far more student transfers, given the transience of military occupations. Many students also experience having one or both parents deployed, which can be emotionally trying. Despite these factors, students typically perform well.
How to Get Started
In order to be eligible for work, prospective teachers must be in good physical health, have a bachelor’s degree, have completed student teaching or an internship and have passing PRAXIS scores — unless they are already state-licensed teachers. It is recommended that prospective employees apply by January for the following school year. If interested, anapplication can be completed and submitted on the Department of Defense website. The DoDEA also regularly posts its specific vacancies by region. While the Department of Defense does not have a lot of vacancies, they do regularly have openings, especially for teachers in high-need areas like special education.