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High School Teacher Job Description, Duties and Requirements

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

Essential Information

High school teachers educate students in grades 9-12. They typically specialize in a specific subject, like math or English. These professionals are generally required to have a bachelor's degree and state license in order to teach in a public school. However a master's degree is sometimes necessary.

Required Education Bachelor's usually required, some states may require a master's
Other Requirements State license for public schools
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)* 6% for secondary school teachers, except technical, career or special education
Median Salary (2013)* $55,360 annually for secondary school teachers, except technical, career or special education

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Job Description

High school teachers work for schools that enroll students from grades 9-12. They typically instruct students on a single subject, such as English, math, science, history, language or art. To do so, they must plan curricula, which may cover basic topics in algebra to advanced information on psychology.

High school teachers can be influential in students' lives, since students will apply what they learn to their future endeavors. Though teaching can be rewarding, high school teachers may have challenging jobs when dealing with unmotivated or disruptive students. Stress can occur when facilities aren't up to standards, workloads become difficult to manage and teachers work more than 40 hours per week.

Duties

High school teachers put together informative and engaging lesson plans for their subjects. Teachers use a variety of visual aids, textbooks and creative projects to gain student involvement. As technology becomes an increasingly large part of education, high school teachers may be required to have and teach computer skills. Other duties may include:

  • Making administrative and budget decisions
  • Chaperoning classes and trips
  • Prioritizing teaching methods
  • Completing parent and student counseling
  • Enforcing rules and disciplinary action
  • Lecturing and discussing concepts
  • Preparing material for presentations
  • Grading tests and conducting progress reports
  • Recordkeeping student activities in accordance with laws and school policies

Requirements

Aspiring public high school teachers must obtain a bachelor's degree; although private high school teachers are not always required to have a 4-year degree, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that private high schools may still favor applicants who have a bachelor's degree (www.bls.gov). The BLS also notes that prospective candidates may consult the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council, who accredit education programs for teachers (www.bls.gov). These institutions may help candidates to facilitate their entry into the profession.

While in college, prospective high school teachers may simultaneously participate in a teacher preparation course or program, which is typically required by state licensing boards and may be a part of their curriculum to earn a degree. These programs usually last for one year and provide aspiring teachers with experience in student-teacher interactions.

Licensing

Public high school teachers must also be licensed in the state in which they are going to teach; private high school teachers are exempt from this requirement. According to O*NET statistics from 2014, 87% of high school teachers held a bachelor's degree, while 10% had a master's degree.

Certification

High school teachers may also opt to complete a professional certification through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (www.nbpts.org). Completing a certification is voluntary, but teachers may wish to obtain this for the potential career benefits, including possible salary increases. Additionally, the NBPTS certification is nationally-recognized for teachers who may move from one state to another during their careers.

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

Jobs for high school teachers (also known as secondary school teachers) are predicted to increase 6% from 2012-2022, according to the BLS. In 2013, the BLS listed the median annual salary of high school teachers at $55,360. However, high school teachers in states such as California and New York made over $69,000 per year (www.bls.gov).

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