History Teacher: Educational Requirements

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

Essential Information

History teachers provide students with a broad exposure to historical events and processes as well as access to various threads of thought from antiquity through the present day. They often gain employment in junior high school, high school and college. History teachers plan lessons, grade assignments, assess student progress and ensure that students meet learning yearly learning objectives. Becoming a history teacher at the middle or high school level generally entails completion of a bachelor's degree program in history with a teacher education component. History teachers at the college level typically hold a doctoral degree.

Junior High School High School Postsecondary
Required Education Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree Master's or doctoral degree
Other Requirements Teacher certification program and state licensure Teacher certification program and state licensure None
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)* 12% 6% 14%
Median Salary (2014)* $54,940 annually $56,310 annually $66,840 annually

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

History teachers often teach at the junior high, high school or postsecondary levels. Read more about each of these teaching levels in the sections below.

Junior High School Teacher

Junior high or middle school history teachers instruct different groups of students from grades 6 through 8. The courses are usually specialized, focusing on topics in world history, American history and civics. A bachelor's degree is required to teach history at this educational level, in addition to the successful completion of a teacher education program. State education boards also require junior high and middle school history teachers to receive a teaching license, which includes passing a subject-specific certification exam.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for junior high school history teachers are expected to increase by 12% from 2012 to 2022, which is on par with the national average for all jobs. The BLS also reports that junior high history teachers earned a median annual salary of $54,940 as of May 2014.

High School History Teacher

High school history teachers can instruct students on various cultures and time periods, such as the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, or they can focus on particular areas, like American or European History. History teachers at this level also offer courses in related areas like economics or sociology. Individuals wanting to become a high school history teacher are required to earn a Bachelor's degree and complete a teacher education program. They must also demonstrate mastery of their subject area by passing a state-approved examination.

The job growth percentage rate for high school history teachers is estimated to be slower than the national average, with only a 6% increase from 2012 to 2022 (www.bls.gov). The BLS further reports that high school history teachers earned a median yearly salary of $56,310 as of May 2014.

Postsecondary History Teacher

Postsecondary history teachers instruct students in large and small colleges and university and online. They often provide specialized instruction on various subtopics within the field such as American history and modern European history. While there is no formal teacher education program necessary for postsecondary history teachers, individuals are required to have at least a master's degree in history for part-time and adjunct teaching positions. A doctoral degree is necessary for a tenure-track, university position. In addition to preparing lessons, giving assignments and grading student work, postsecondary history teachers conduct their own research and write articles for scholarly publications.

Jobs for postsecondary history teachers are expected to grow at a rate of 14% from 2012 to 2022, according to BLS. This is due to the continuing rise of student enrollment at this level. As of 2014, the median salary for postsecondary history teachers was $66,840 per year.

Educational Requirements for History Teachers

Bachelor's Degree in History Education

While history teachers who do not hold degrees occasionally find employment in private schools, history teachers in public schools are required to hold four-year degrees that combine history and teacher education. Aspiring teachers may benefit from attending programs accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education or the Teacher Education Accreditation Council.

History Curriculum

History teacher education programs cover various cultures and time periods, such as the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. Some programs offer students the opportunity to specialize in a particular area of interest, like American history. Additionally, programs may require students to complete a writing requirement, such as one or more papers on a historical time period or development.

Teacher Education Curriculum

Aside from courses in history, students must complete coursework to prepare them for classroom instruction. These courses typically fulfill state teacher credentialing requirements and may cover topics in curriculum development and teaching methods. Some states also require teacher education programs to include technology training that familiarizes aspiring teachers with the use of computers in classroom instruction.

Most teacher education programs also require aspiring teachers to complete student-teacher internships. These opportunities allow prospective history teachers to design curricula and experiment with instructional techniques under the supervision of licensed instructors.

Alternative Programs

In order to compensate for understaffing in some subjects, state governments have developed alternative programs to help college graduates gain the necessary skills to teach in public schools. For example, some states allow graduates of history degree programs to teach while taking evening classes to fulfill educational requirements. Others allow aspiring teachers to enroll in full-time, one to two semester programs that consist of the necessary teacher education coursework.

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