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Geography Teacher: Job Description, Salary Info and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a geography teacher. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degrees, job duties and licensure to find out if this is the career for you.

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Geography teachers work in middle schools, high schools or colleges teaching students about the physical world. These positions require a bachelor's degree and licensure for middle school and high school and a master's or doctoral degree for college. The salary for these positions varies by level, with middle and high school teachers having a median annual salary around $56,000-$57,000 and college teachers around $75,000.

Essential Information

Geography teachers share their expertise with students from middle school to college. They prepare lessons about geography and how people are influenced by or interact with their surroundings. Geography teachers may also design field trips for their students. Becoming a geography teacher requires a minimum of a bachelor's degree with a focus on both teacher education and geography or a similar field. Geography teachers at the middle and high school levels also need a state teaching license to work in public schools.

Required Education Bachelor's degree for middle or high school
Master's or doctoral degree for postsecondary schools
Other Requirements Teacher education program and teaching internship for K-12 teachers; state licensure for those who teach at public K-12 schools
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6% increase for all middle school teachers
6% increase for all high school teachers
13% increase for all postsecondary teachers
Median Salary (2015)* $55,860 for all middle school teachers
$57,200 for all secondary school teachers
$75,400 for postsecondary geography teachers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description for Geography Teachers

Geography teachers teach students about physical and regional geography, earth sciences, how technology relates to geography and environmental or cultural elements of the discipline. Geography teachers expose students to the relationship between people and their geographic region and how humans might have adapted to their surroundings. They might use visual materials or technology to assist students in learning geographic topics. In addition to developing and teaching lesson plans, geography teachers could plan field trips and research projects that present geographical elements of local, international or unique areas.

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Salary Information for Geography Teachers

In May 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that middle school teachers earned a median annual wage of $55,860, while high school teachers brought in a median salary of $57,200 per year (www.bls.gov). States that paid some of the highest average salaries for both teaching levels included New York and Alaska.

Geography teachers who taught at colleges and universities took home a median yearly salary of $75,400 during the same time, according to the BLS. Postsecondary geography teachers working in Florida, California and New Jersey made the highest wages, averaging over $92,000 per year.

Job Requirements for Geography Teachers

The amount of education necessary to become a geography teacher varies based on the state and the type of school at which an individual chooses to work. Public elementary, middle and high schools typically require completing an undergraduate program that combines a major in geography with a teacher education program. In addition, aspiring geography teachers must complete a teaching internship, which is typically offered through the degree program. Some states could require teachers earn a master's degree before or shortly after becoming a teacher.

College-level geography teachers need to earn at least a master's degree to teach at community colleges and universities. In some instances, a postsecondary school might prefer to hire teachers with a doctoral degree. Those with an undergraduate degree in geography could enroll in an education graduate program that provides training in classroom teaching, technology implementation and curricular development.

Licensure Information

Geography teachers employed at public elementary, middle and high schools must be licensed by the state in which they teach. Each state varies in the requirements for licensure, but most states mandate taking the PRAXIS examinations. Private schools, colleges and universities do not require teachers to become licensed.

Geography teachers in public middle schools and high schools require state licensing. Licensing requirements vary, but most states require passing an exam and completion of a bachelor's degree program, teacher education program and teaching internship. Postsecondary geography teachers need to earn a graduate degree.

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