Become a High School Health Teacher
Secondary school health teachers instruct students in grades 9 through 12 regarding the care of their bodies and minds. Concepts a high school health teacher might focus on include prevention of drug abuse and sexually transmitted diseases, as well as benefits of good nutrition and personal hygiene.
Being a high school health teacher requires a bachelor's or master's degree, certification and a student teaching internship. High school health teachers also need to be patient, adaptable, able to engage students, and have good instructional and communication skills. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in May 2015 that high school teachers earned a median salary of $57,200.
Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree
The first step to become a high school health teacher is to earn a bachelor's degree. Pertinent majors can include school health, secondary health education and health promotion. Education requirements may differ by state. Many states join with colleges and universities to supply the necessary certification coursework via bachelor's degree programs in education. Such programs should be state-approved and are usually accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).
Secondary school health teachers are expected to educate students concerning a variety of health and wellness topics, including nutrition, mental health, drug abuse prevention and sex education. Typically, it's mandatory that future teachers complete a teaching practicum, either through their undergraduate program or by means of alternative teacher certification programs.
Step 2: Get a Teaching Certificate
High school health teachers also need to acquire a license (also referred to as certification) in the state in which they plan to teach. However, apart from a bachelor's degree and student teaching field experience, requirements for certification differ by state. Licensure is frequently received from a state's Board of Education and also usually requires an examination. Different types of licensure are available and vary by state.
Health teachers are typically required to pass an examination to prove their competence in basic education and health science. Continuing education and state-to-state transfer requirements can also vary by state. One can check with his or her state's Board of Education for detailed requirements for high school health teachers. After successfully completing a bachelor's degree program, student teaching experience and all professional examinations mandated by the state, one should be ready to receive teacher certification.
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Step 3: Complete a Master's Degree
Aspiring high school health teachers can consider getting a master's degree in education. Many master's programs are designed for those who possess a bachelor's degree, but do not have certification, or for teachers in different disciplines who want to add a certification to teach health. The Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) is a common solution for individuals with an undergraduate degree in a similar subject who would like to become licensed to teach secondary school health classes.
Alternatively, one can pursue a Master of Education (MEd) degree. The curriculum in a master's degree program can include classes on mental health, sexuality and advanced study about specific health-related issues, such as eating disorders.
A success tip:
- Consider obtaining national certification. National certification offers health teachers the chance to demonstrate their expertise and proficiency. As the BLS notes, educators that possess certifications may receive special benefits, such as higher salaries. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) offers National Board Certification in adolescent and young adult health instruction. According to NBPTS, requirements include three years of teaching experience and a valid teaching license.
Step 4: Continue Education and Training
High school teachers are typically mandated by the state to complete annual professional-level education and training to keep their license current. The amount of required hours varies by state.
- Become a Mentor. Experienced high school heath teachers may want to consider becoming a mentor or lead teacher. In this role, they will help student teachers or less experienced teachers improve their skills.
- Explore Advancement Options through additional certification and training to become instructional coordinators within their subject field. Others may want to take on more of a leadership role, such as becoming a school counselor or principal.
In conclusion, high school health teachers need a bachelor's or master's degree related to health education, receive teacher certification and continue their training to maintain certification.