Social Studies Teacher: Career and Salary Facts

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue as a social studies teacher. Read on to learn more about career options along with salary and licensure information. Schools offering Teaching - Social Studies degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Social Studies Teacher Do?

Sometimes people have that burning desire to study the past- the people, the cultures, and the events. These same people also have a way of imparting that knowledge to others in an engaging manner. Social studies teachers make the past, places, and people come alive to students while getting them ready for testing, preparing district lesson plans, and presenting interesting and engaging material for students to study.

While social studies teachers can teach at any level, they generally teach social sciences to middle and high school students. The following chart gives you an overview about entering this field.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Social studies, education
Key Responsibilities Prepare lesson plans; present lectures and lessons; assign work, administer tests and grade student work and tests; communicate with parents about student progress and conduct
Licensure and/or Certification All public school teachers must be licensed or certified
Job Growth (2014-2024) 6% for all middle school teachers, except special and career/technical education*
6% for all high school teachers, except special and career/technical education*
Median Salary (2015) $55,860 for all middle school teachers, except special and career/technical education*
$57,200 for all high school teachers, except special and career/technical education*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Education And Training Do I Need?

All teachers, no matter where they live, must have a bachelor's degree to teach in the classroom. Additional requirements vary by state but generally, interested teachers of social studies have earned degrees in the social sciences such as history, political science or sociology. Regardless of your degree, you must complete a certain number of hours observing and teaching in a real classroom under the supervision of an experienced teacher. This is usually included in an education degree program.

If you're working on your social sciences degree you also have the option to take courses in education, which you will need to attain state certification. If you don't complete education coursework, you must meet additional certification requirements. If you plan to teach at a private school, state certification isn't always required. If you'd like to teach at the collegiate level, a graduate degree is required at most colleges and universities and prior teaching experience is typically expected.

If your degree doesn't pertain to social sciences but you're still interested in becoming a social studies teacher, there are alternative certification options available. You may need to enroll in educational foundation courses as well as take and pass a social studies subject area exam. These requirements also vary by state.

What Social Studies Topics Can I Teach?

In many elementary schools, one teacher instructs a class all day long and must be able to teach all subjects, social studies being one of many. Typically, elementary social studies topics consist of state history, geography and civics. At the middle school level in many states, students learn about global systems, world cultures and U.S. history. In high school, world history and a more in-depth study of U.S. history are typically taught. High school courses are also usually offered in topics such as African American history, psychology and economics.

College professors and adjuncts can often teach specialized courses in areas such as the holocaust, civil rights, European history and Asian history. These teaching positions can be more difficult to attain since they require not only graduate degrees but expertise and possible publication in the subject as well.

What Might I Earn?

A social studies teacher's salary is normally calculated by years of experience and education. Many districts offer additional money for advanced degrees. Salary can vary by state, region and school.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the middle 50% of middle school teachers earned between $44,800 and $70,480 as of May 2015 (www.bls.gov). New York, Connecticut and Alaska paid the highest wages to middle school teachers. At the same time, the middle 50% of secondary school teachers made $45,520-$73,050, with New York, Alaska and Connecticut paying the most. These figures are for teachers of all subjects, as reported by the BLS.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Alternative positions to social studies instructors could include counseling or instructional coordinators. Professionals in this career field will work with students and teachers to prepare young people for the years after high school. A bachelor's is needed to work in vocational education helping teach students a trade and preparing them for the workforce. A master's degree is needed to become a principal at any grade level and the profession requires each to work well with students, faculty and parents. State and district reports will need to be prepared and presented at meetings. Postsecondary teaching requires at least a master's degree in their specialties. A doctorate is even better in the highly competitive university hiring market.

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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