Education Requirements to Teach High School Classes and Courses

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 schooling, job duties and licensure to find out if this is the career for you.

Essential Information

Teaching high school classes and courses requires obtaining a postsecondary degree. Aspiring high school teachers specialize in a subject area, such as music or history, which they'll teach to high school students. All states mandate public school teachers to be licensed within their respective state.

Required Education Bachelor's
Licensure and Certification State license required for public school positions; voluntary certification available
Projected Job Growth (2012 - 2022)* 6% for secondary school teachers
Median Salary (2013)* $55,360 annually for secondary school teachers

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

High School Teacher Education Requirements

A bachelor's degree in secondary education is required to teach high school classes and courses. Typically, it's customary to major in the subject you want to teach, such as math or English. Depending on the degree program, this specialization can be done either through a double major or through a program that incorporates the specific subject in with the teaching curriculum. Secondary education degree programs will include classes that explore topics in educational development, effective teaching, and curriculum and methodology.

Education Information

The educational requirements for licensing vary by state. The most common requirement is a bachelor's degree from an accredited teacher education program, although some states do require educators to acquire a master's degree within a specified timeframe during their teaching career. Many degree programs exist that offer a dual bachelor's and master's degree curriculum.

Training Requirements

Secondary teacher education programs require students to participate in practiced learning. Students are assigned or choose a school where they learn to apply the teaching theories and methods in a real classroom. This clinical experience is supervised by a working professional.

Exam Information

Many colleges require potential students to take the PRAXIS I exam to qualify for admission to their teacher education degree program, according to the Educational Testing Service that administers the tests ( This exam is an assessment of basic academic skills to see if a student qualifies for entry into the program. The PRAXIS I exam is also required by many states as part of the licensing requirement. The PRAXIS II exam is a component of licensing in many states; this test evaluates a candidate's knowledge of the specialized subject area they wish to teach, along with one's ability to teach and one's general knowledge.

Licensure Requirements

All 50 states in the U.S. require secondary teachers to acquire a license to teach in public schools, but requirements for obtaining the license is different from state to state. Licensure isn't required in most private schools. High school teachers can obtain a secondary education teacher's license in their chosen subject. Many states require continuing education courses to renew a teacher's license.

Certification Information

Educators can choose to advance their skills through voluntary certification. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards offers national certification, and all states recognize this certification. National certification sometimes allows for carrying a license from state to state.

Other certificate can include studying another subject area, grade level or specialty education, such as teaching special education. This certification can be obtained through a program approved by the State Board for Educator Certification, such as a university certificate program. Educators must take a state assessment exam to become certified.

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