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What Does IT Take to Be a History Teacher?

History teachers require some formal education. Learn about the educational and certification requirements and other necessary career-building steps to see if this is the right choice for you.

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History teachers work in a variety of educational environments. While the minimum educational prerequisite is a bachelor's degree, potential history teachers should also seek enrollment in education training programs and get their state license. Here, you will learn about the steps required to become a history teacher, along with some continuing education and certification options.

Essential Information

A history teacher instructs high school or middle school students in various in-depth aspects of history, building on what the students learned in elementary school. Like most teachers, a history teacher is responsible for creating and implementing lesson plans, assigning and grading homework and tests, communicating with students and their parents and enforcing disciplinary rules. Some history teachers coach sports or become certified to teach other subjects, increasing their job prospects.

Required Education A bachelor's degree in education with a minor in history
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6% (for all middle school teachers); 6% (for all high school teachers)
Median Annual Salary (2015)* $55,860 (for middle school teachers); $57,200 (for all secondary school teachers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Five Steps to Becoming a History Teacher

Step 1: Graduating from High School

Earning a high school diploma is the first step on the path to becoming a history teacher. Prospective history teachers should take as many history courses as possible, including world history, American history, European history, geography and civics.

Step 2: Earning a Bachelor's Degree

The traditional academic route to a career as a history teacher is to earn a bachelor's degree in education and a minor in history. Some students earn a degree in history first and then return to college to obtain a post-baccalaureate degree in education.

Step 3: Completing a Teaching Program

While completing a bachelor's or post-baccalaureate degree, aspiring history teachers should enroll in a teacher education program. Requirements vary according to state and university, but most programs require two semesters of supervised student teaching.

The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) maintains a list of U.S. colleges and universities that have accredited teacher education programs. The Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC) also accredits teacher education programs.

Step 4: Obtaining a State Teaching License

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) every U.S. state or jurisdiction requires history teachers who teach in public schools to become licensed, though private schools may not require licensure. The requirements to earn a teaching license vary by state and usually include a bachelor's degree and completion of an approved teacher education program, including a stint of student teaching under the supervision of a licensed teacher.

Step 5: Continuing Education and Certification

Even after becoming a history teacher, a minimum number of college credits in continuing education must be completed for license renewal. Many history teachers use these college credits to earn a master's degree in history or education.

History teachers may also choose to be certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. This certification is recognized throughout the country, and many states have reciprocity agreements that allow certified teachers to use their licenses in more than one state. Certified teachers may also be eligible for higher salaries and get continuing education credit for certification.

In summary, you can become a history teacher by first earning a bachelor's degree, preferably in education with a history minor, and completing a teacher education program that includes a student teaching segment. In order to teach in public schools, you must be licensed by your state. While not required, certification by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards can benefit your career and enhance your standing in the field.

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