How to Become a History Teacher in 5 Steps
Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue as a history teacher. Read on to learn more about career options along with salary and licensure information.
What Is A History Teacher?
History teachers prepare lesson plans and teach classes about history. This encompasses significant past events and topics related to world leaders and different civilizations throughout history. They use tests and assignments to assess student performance, and like other teachers they may meet with parents to discuss their child's progress. History teachers may teach at the middle or high school level. They need to have a bachelor's degree in history, and they need their teaching license to teach at public schools. History teachers may also opt to teach at private schools.
|Middle School Teacher||High School Teacher|
|Degree Required||Bachelor's degree||Bachelor's degree|
|Education Field of Study||Education with a major in history||Education with major in history|
|Key Responsibilities||Prepare history lesson plans; teach lessons, give assignments and tests and grade school work and tests; confer with parents about student; supervise students in classroom and other school settings||Prepare more advanced lesson plans; present lessons and give tests; assign homework and projects and grade them; prepare for parent-teacher conferences and advise parents of student progress and conduct|
|Licensure and/or Certification||Public school teachers must be licensed||Public school teachers must be licensed|
|Job Growth (2018-2028)||3%||4%*|
|Median Salary (2018)||$58,600||$60,320*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
What Will I Do as a History Teacher?
As a history teacher, you'll work in public or private schools teaching middle or secondary social studies classes. Subjects in your coursework could include the culture, government and development of countries such as Britain, France, Japan, India and America. You'll inform students about U.S. presidents and explain how different systems of government work. As a teacher, you'll usually need to participate in parent-teacher meetings, develop lesson plans and create tests based on your teaching. In some schools, you'll also have the opportunity to serve as a coach for debate teams or teach criminal justice electives.
Step 1: Earn a Degree
To become a history teacher, you'll generally need to complete training in both the subject you wish to teach and in teaching methodology. Some bachelor's degree options include a program in education with a history concentration, a program in history taken in conjunction with a certificate in teaching or a program in social studies education. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a bachelor's degree is acceptable for public teacher licensing in many states (www.bls.gov). However, you might need to earn a master's degree before or within a certain time period after obtaining your license.
A teaching program covers classroom management, organization, human development and lesson planning. Your history curriculum includes history fundamentals and government systems. You might also study historical writing, oral history, ancient civilizations and international cultures.
Step 2: Take Part in Student Teaching
Student teaching is mandated by all states as an eligibility requirement for state teaching licensure. You can sometimes gain hands-on experience during your degree program. Several state universities also coordinate with public elementary and high schools to provide you with a year of professional teaching practice after earning your bachelor's degree in order to gain the necessary experience. Student teaching provides you with the opportunity to work with actual students and experience the real-world applications of classroom theory.
Step 3: Seek State Licensure
If you want to work for a public school, you'll need to be licensed. Each state has an licensing board with its own set of requirements. You must pass a teacher certification exam, and most states use the standardized Praxis tests. In addition to the general exams, you might need to be tested or rated on your teaching performance and knowledge of state-specific regulations. Some states provide different licensing levels based on whether you teach elementary, middle or high school students.
Step 4: Seek National Certification
You're not required to earn national certification to become a teacher, but it can serve to demonstrate your understanding of a subject and your skill in teaching. A social studies certification is available if you'd like to teach history to adolescents or young adults. This certification is offered through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (www.nbpts.org). To earn the credential, you'll need to pass a test that includes topics in geography, economics, government and history basics.
Step 5: Research Job Opportunities
Your salary can vary depending on where you teach. In May 2018, the BLS reported that middle school teachers as a whole earned a median salary of $55,600 per year. During the same time period, the BLS estimated that secondary school teachers earned a median salary of $60,320 annually. The salary breakdown showed that New York schools paid their middle and high school teachers the highest wages of all states, offering an annual mean wage of over $83,000 each. Teachers in California earned the second-highest annual salaries for both middle and high school teachers, at over $80,000 per year.
What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?
Elementary school teachers perform the same types of tasks as history teachers, except they usually teach multiple subject areas. They use the curriculum guidelines to develop age-appropriate lessons and instruct students. They assess student performance and meet with teachers to discuss their child's progress. Middle and high school teachers who teach other subjects, such as math, science, English, health or Spanish, also perform the same duties as history teachers, but they have a different subject they focus on. Teachers of all grade levels are normally required to have a bachelor's degree and their teaching license. Instructional coordinators need a master's degree, and they determine what materials should be used and what should be covered for each subject and grade level in a school system. Their work is similar to the work history teachers do because they need to know what historical knowledge is age appropriate for each grade, and they need an understanding of how to effectively instruct students so that they can select appropriate materials for each grade level.