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Social Studies Teacher: Job Duties & Requirements

Learn the education, certification, and licensure requirements for social studies teachers. Find out the salary potential and job outlook, as well as some alternative career options.

Career Defined for Social Studies Teachers

Although students of every grade level are taught social studies, teachers who specialize in social studies, called 'social studies teachers,' are typically found at the secondary school level. Social studies teachers teach concepts of government, geography, history, economics, civic ideals, and current events. They plan lessons, assign and grade homework, and create and lead classroom activities.

Education Bachelor's or master's degree in education, social studies, or a related field
Job Duties Plan lessons, assign and grade homework, lead classroom activities
Median Salary (2017) $59,170 (all high school teachers) or $57,720 (all middle school teachers)
Job Growth (2016-2026) 8% (all high school and middle school teachers)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Required

Every state requires teachers of all subjects to earn a minimum of a bachelor's degree. Social studies teachers may earn a bachelor's degree in social studies or a related field such as history or geography, or they may major in education. Education coursework includes philosophy of education, child psychology, and teaching methods, while social studies coursework includes geography, economics, and political science. Some states require teachers to have master's degrees. Most teacher education programs include supervised teaching requirements.

Licensure and Certification Requirements

Like all teachers, social studies teachers must complete teacher licensure and certification requirements for the state in which they want to teach. Requirements for social studies teachers can include completing student teaching, passing a content exam in social studies, and passing a background check.

Required Skills

Social studies teachers must be able to effectively communicate with students, as well as build their trust, motivate them, and understand their needs. Increasingly, teachers need computer skills, and they should be able to work cooperatively with parents and other teachers.

Career and Economic Outlook

As of May 2017, the median salary for high school teachers was $59,170 while the salary for middle school teachers was $57,720, according to the BLS. The BLS projects jobs for all middle school and high school teachers will increase by 8% from 2016 to 2026.

Alternative Career Options

Similar career options available in this field include:

Instructional Coordinator

Those who are interested in social studies but prefer not to teach might find a career as an instructional coordinator a good fit. Instructional coordinators develop subject-area curricula and then help teachers apply it in their classrooms through teacher training sessions. Instructional coordinators in the area of social studies need a master's degree in curriculum and instruction or in social studies or a related field. These workers typically need a teaching license in the state in which they work. According to the BLS, instructional coordinators had a median annual salary of $63,750 in 2017. The BLS projects that jobs in instructional coordination will increase by 11% from 2016 to 2026.

School Librarian

Those who want to assist students in schools might also consider the job of school librarian. School librarians help students and teachers find resources and research specific subjects. A minimum of a bachelor's degree in library science is typically required, and some states require master's degrees. Most states require school librarians to obtain teacher certification. In May 2017, the BLS reported that elementary and secondary school librarians had a median annual salary of $60,440. Jobs for librarians in general are expected to increase at a fast-as-average pace of 9% from 2016 to 2026, according to the BLS.


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