High School Teacher: Career Education for High School Teachers

High school teachers must have some formal education. Learn about the schooling, job duties and licensure requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

High school teachers need a state license to work in a public school, a bachelor's or master's degree, and often some student teaching experience. Degree programs can sometimes be specific to teaching, or can be in a specialized subject, like English, math or science. Attending an accredited program can be helpful in attaining state licensure.

Essential Information

Although the requirements for private high school teachers vary, public school teachers are generally required to earn a bachelor's degree and obtain state licensure. In addition, some states require public school teachers to earn a master's degree within a specified time after beginning their career. Student teaching experience is also often required for high school teachers.

Required Education Bachelor's usually required, some states may require a master's
Other Requirements State license for public schools, student teaching experience often necessary
Projected Job Growth (2014 - 2024)* 6%
Median Salary (2015)* $57,200 for secondary school teachers, except technical, career or special education

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

Career Education for High School Teachers

High school teachers work with students to develop their skills in English, math, science and other subjects. They may assist with career counseling and job placement. High school teachers aren't just knowledgeable about the subject they teach, they must be able to explain it clearly so that students with different learning abilities can understand it. Aside from teaching students, high school teachers may also be interact with parents and school officials, as well as monitor clubs and lead student trips.

Bachelor's Degrees

A bachelor's degree is usually the minimum requirement for high school teaching jobs; however, students have different options at the undergraduate level. Some programs allow students to major in the subject they wish to teach while simultaneously undergoing a teacher certification program. Other schools offer secondary school teaching minors and majors specific to high school teaching. Common topics include adolescent development, educational psychology, assessing student achievement and special needs.

The two major accrediting bodies for teacher education programs are the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council; however, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that graduating from an accredited program is not a requirement but it can expedite the licensing process (www.bls.gov).

Student Teaching Program

The capstone requirement of a teaching program is student teaching, which places a student in a high school classroom under the supervision of a licensed teacher. Students gain experience teaching their subject, making lesson plans and giving assignments. Student teachers must often meet standards for academic performance to be eligible. During student teaching, the supervising teacher evaluates the student's performance in areas including classroom management, planning and organization.

Graduate Degrees

The BLS reports that some states require teachers to earn a master's degree within a specified time period after they start teaching. Students may choose to earn a bachelor's in their subject and a master's degree in education prior to starting their career. Master's degree programs require advanced coursework in topics similar to undergrad programs and many include a practicum in their core curricula. Elective coursework can be based on the subject a student will be teaching.

Licensing Requirements

While all 50 states require teachers to be licensed, the requirements vary. Teachers may be licensed by the grade-level or subject they teach. Besides holding a bachelor's degree, individuals must pass exams in basic skills and their subject area. Some states issue conditional licenses in which teachers must meet performance standards to earn their professional license.

Certification Information

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) offers a voluntary professional certification that can bring benefits including career advancement and increased salary (www.nbpts.org). According to the NBPTS, applicants must have a bachelor's degree, have taught in a state-recognized school and worked for three years in order to qualify. In addition to general certification, the NBPTS offers certifications by subject and grade-level.

Salary Info and Employment Outlook

The BLS noted in May 2015 that the median annual salary of high school (secondary) teachers was $57,200. Employment of high school teachers was projected to grow 6% from 2014-2024, a rate that is as fast as the average for all jobs.

High school teachers help students develop skills in a range of subjects, interact with parents and school officials, and monitor clubs. A bachelor's degree (including student teaching) and state licensure are standard requirements. Voluntary certification is available in this field, and job opportunities for secondary teachers are predicted to increase by 6% through the year 2024.


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