High School Teachers
|Recommended Degree Level||Bachelor|
|Number of Jobs, 2012||959,770|
|Annual Job Growth Rate||3.3%|
|Job Openings per Year (est.)||35,560|
- High school teachers must have a bachelor's degree.
- Most states require a degree in your chosen content area, although some classes may not need a major in that subject.
- While all states have continuing education requirements, only some require teachers to earn a master's degree as part of their ongoing education.
What you study:
Unlike elementary school teachers who often major in education, high school teachers usually major in their field of study. However, many schools also require education classes. Coursework in education may include:
- Secondary education
- Educational history
- Educational theory
- Adolescent psychology
A brief recap of the high school teaching career. Produced for the US Dept. of Labor.
A Day in the Life
You'll get to class about half an hour before your students; this gives you time to go over last night's lesson plans. Even if your classes share the same grade, they rarely work at the same speed. It's important to adjust lesson plans to the students' pace.
Your students are past the age of needing a teacher there to guide them to their homeroom desks, but they still appreciate your welcome as they file into the classroom. After the morning announcements from the principal are done, you take attendance. Homeroom is short and uneventful, giving you time to prepare a quiz for your first class. If you teach science, you might use this time to set up lab equipment or prepare an experiment.
How you spend your day depends on your subject. As a biology or chemistry teacher, you probably spend most classes lecturing or illustrating a fundamental principle with a demonstration. Laboratory work takes more time to set up, but students love it, so you plan lab work once or twice a week. As a math teacher, you spend a fair amount of time solving problems on the board. You may specialize in a single branch of mathematics if you teach in a large school, but in smaller schools, you could be teaching multiple disciplines to different grade levels.
As an English or history teacher, you spend some time lecturing, but students also talk. Analyzing a novel or critiquing students' creative writing requires interaction. Your students are generally happy to participate, especially when you assign books that resonate with them. In-class essays and worksheets give you some quiet time during which you can grade papers or plan lessons for the next class.
Your morning classes went smoothly, and just before lunch, one of your students stopped by your desk to ask some insightful questions. Pleased to know he was listening so intently, you're glad to answer even though it takes time from your lunch period.
After lunch is your study hall. While students read, nap or do homework, you grade papers and prepare for your afternoon classes. You only have two left, and both go as smoothly as your morning lessons. After your last class, your students leave in a rush, but you have paperwork to finish. Like your students, you also have homework. You leave school within an hour after the final bell and spend part of your evening grading tests or reading student essays.
Certifications and Licensing
All public school teachers must obtain certification. Teachers in private schools must also become licensed in many states. Certification requires student teaching and a lengthy test. Prospective teachers who did not take education classes in college may need to complete some coursework to become certified.
Full-time versus part-time:
Most high school teachers teach full-time, although some teachers in elective subjects work half days. Unless they choose to teach in summer school, secondary school teachers are typically off for the summer months.
Although most teachers still work in a standard school environment, home-schooling has become more popular and has opened new opportunities for licensed teachers. Team-teaching arrangements with home-schooling families can provide more flexibility.
- U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook: High School Teachers – This site summarizes the basic information potential high school teachers need, including salary information, educational requirements and an overview of duties. It is ideal for students beginning their search for more information.
- U.S. Department of Education – Keep current about the latest education news and legislation that could affect high school teachers by visiting this site. Readers will find a wider perspective of the profession outside the classroom. Prospective high school teachers can also find out about financial aid and scholarship programs here. The Contacts section has a wealth of links to subject-specific organizations.
- National Education Association – With over 3 million teachers as members, the not-for-profit National Education Association is one of the largest employee organizations in the nation. Visitors will find classroom resources, news and discussions of legislative issues. For education students, sample lesson plans offer an opportunity to see teaching from the other side of the desk.