Psychology Teacher: Career and Salary Facts

Research what it takes to become a psychology teacher. Learn about job duties, education requirements and salary expectations to find out whether this is the career for you. Schools offering Teaching & Learning degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Psychology Teacher?

Psychology teachers may provide instruction at either the high school or college level. High school teachers usually offer broad introductory courses that touch on a wide range of topics within this broad field, while college professors may teach focused courses in particular subfields of psychology, such as social psychology, animal behavior or neurobiology. While many psychology teachers rely heavily on lectures and textbook readings, some courses also include a laboratory component. College professors are also expected to conduct their own theoretical and/or practical research in the field and publish their findings in books or academic journals. High school teachers, on the other hand, may have supervisory duties outside the classroom, such as serving as a cafeteria or hallway monitor.

Read on to discover education requirements, job duties and employment outlook for either level. The table below offers a quick overview.

High School Level College Level
Degree Required Bachelor's degree Doctoral degree plus work experience
Licensing/Certification State-issued teaching license None required
Training Required Undergraduate teacher training and coursework Continuing education via professional organizations such as the American Psychological Association
Key Responsibilities Teach basic principles of psychology; plan curricula; grade assignments and tests; possibly teach other subjects Provide instruction on general principles of psychology and/or teach courses related to specific topics and disciplines; conduct academic research; publish scholarly works
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6% (all high school teachers, all subjects) 16%
Median Salary (2015)* $57,200 (all high school teachers, all subjects) $70,260

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What Kind of Psychology Can I Teach?

Depending on your specialization and academic background, there are several classroom options you can choose from. If you want to teach at the high school level, you'll usually offer broad instruction on general psychology without detailing specific characteristics or applications. If you'd like to teach at a college or university, you can still offer general psychology courses, though you might also opt to offer classes restricted to particular psychology disciplines, such as cognitive, clinical or behavioral psychology.

What Are the Requirements?

To become a high school psychology teacher, you'll need at least a bachelor's degree, as well as teacher education training through a degree or post-baccalaureate program. A few subjects you'll typically encounter in an undergraduate psychology program include behavior principles, neuropsychology, child psychology, abnormal psychology and behavioral evolution. In order to teach at the postsecondary level, you'll need to earn a doctoral degree in psychology. After graduating, becoming a member of the American Psychological Association provides you with networking and educational opportunities through conferences, seminars and workshops that you'll need to continue in your profession.

If you teach at a public high school, you will need to obtain a state teaching license. State licensure requirements vary, but all demand at least a bachelor's degree in your teaching subject and completion of a teacher training program. Private schools don't require state licensure, though you might find earning a teaching license increases your employment opportunities because it does demonstrate your teaching knowledge and proficiency. Colleges and universities don't require state licensure but might look more favorably on you if you have teaching experience and certifications or memberships in psychology organizations or published research.

What Is the Job Market Like?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for high school teachers are expected to increase 6% from 2014 to 2024, which is about as fast as average. High schools typically feature psychology as an elective class to prepare students for undergraduate degree programs, and many schools offer it as an Advanced Placement (AP) course.

If you'd rather teach at the postsecondary level, the BLS stated that the number of jobs available for college-level psychology teachers was expected to increase 16% over the 2014-2024 decade.

What Could I Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the median annual wage for secondary school teachers was $57,200 in 2015 (www.bls.gov). The data encompassed all teachers at this level, and according to Psi Chi, you'll probably need to teach other subjects in addition to psychology. However, the BLS offered specific salary figures for postsecondary psychology professors, stating the median income was $70,260 in 2015, with the top 10% making $133,810 or more that year.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

An alternative teaching career is a job as an elementary school teacher. Like high school teachers, they need a bachelor's degree and a license to work in a public school. Rather than specializing in a subfield like psychology, elementary school teachers help young children develop the basic math and reading skills they will need for future academic success. Another option for individuals who are interested in psychology is a job as a school counselor. These professionals support students on a wide range of issues, including behavioral problems, mental health and career planning. They need a master's degree and a license for work in public schools.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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