How to Become a High School Teacher


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the profession of high school teachers is projected to grow 6% between the years 2014 and 2024. High school teachers help educate young people on a variety of subject matters and prepare students for life after graduation. They teach academic lessons and skills that students will need to attend college and to enter the workforce.

1. Decide if becoming a high school teacher is right for you.

High school teachers only need to specialize in one subject, such as biology, physics, history and music, which allows them to become trained in teaching only the subjects they are interested in. In addition, high school students are often more mature than middle school and elementary school students, and many of them are eager to actively prepare for life after high school.However, it can still be challenging to work with teenagers. High school teachers need excellent student management skills. Lesson planning for high school classes is not always easy. It’s important to meet different needs of students who are each at widely varied points in their emotional and academic development, in order to help all students understand the material.

2. Complete your undergraduate degree and gain experience.

You will complete a major in the area you intend to teach with a minor in education or attending a teacher preparation program.

Teacher preparation programs help you develop excellent teaching skills. You should also look for opportunities to obtain field experience or volunteer work experience through schools and communities. You should value these opportunities as a means to gain a deeper understanding of the subject you will teach, and a way to help your resume stand out when you’re seeking employment after graduation. In addition, alternative teacher programs are available to those who have bachelor’s degrees; these generally take one to two years. This can be a shortcut to a teaching career for those who already have related bachelor’s degrees but don’t yet have proper certifications or enough teaching experience.

 3. Get certified.

You must have a certain amount of teaching experience in order to get certified. The required amount of experience depends on each state. High school teachers for public schools must earn their state teaching licenses. For licensing, most states require applicants to complete teaching internships and pass state exams in reading, writing and the subject they will teach. Most states require their teachers to complete a standardized test, such as the Praxis Exam. Specific requirements vary from state to state, so it is essential that you check the rules of your state.

All states also offer alternative programs for those who do not have the experience required for traditional licenses.Alternative programs allow applicants who have bachelor’s degrees to begin teaching under the supervision of experienced teachers. After completing the alternative programs, teachers will be fully certified. They can receive formal licenses and teach students on their own in one to two years.

Although private school teachers are not required to obtain state certifications from the government, many private schools prefer their teachers to have valid state certifications. As such, it is advantageous to obtain proper certifications as it will help expand your employment opportunities.

The National Board Certification (NBC) is an advanced teaching credential that goes beyond a state license. The certification is offered by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Teachers can take the NBC in many different areas, including health, library media, mathematics, physical education and science. Teachers who pass this certification may be eligible for extra benefits, such as higher salaries and more opportunities for career advancement. For example, those who obtain it are more likely to become educational administrators and specialists.

4. Pursue further education.

High school teachers can begin their work with bachelor’s degrees, but many public schools encourage them to earn master’s degrees. Some states may even require teachers to eventually earn master’s degrees in order to continue teaching in high schools. Those who earn master’s degrees might also receive higher salaries and more opportunities for advancement.

Ready to see if a career as a high school teacher is right for you? Check out these videos from PathSource to hear what real high school teachers have to say!

HIGH SCHOOL CHEMISTRY TEACHER: Career Options For Science Lovers

HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER: Don’t Limit Yourself

HIGH SCHOOL BUSINESS TEACHER: Desiring To Teach After Working WIth Her Own Kids

If you have an iPhone, download PathSource for free on the App Store for unlimited access to videos about PAs and hundreds of other professions. For Android users, a light version is available to download on Google Play with videos coming soon!


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