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Penn Foster High School

High School Diploma
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What Are the Duties of a High School Teacher?

Explore the career requirements for high school teachers. Get the facts about education and licensure requirements, salary, and job duties to determine if this is the right career for you.

What Is a High School Teacher?

High school teachers instruct students in grades nine through twelve in various subjects, such as science, math, English and foreign languages. Like all teachers, they have aspects of their work that involve direct student interaction, and other parts of their work are administrative. During direct student interaction time, they teach classes, and they may also be involved in addressing student discipline as needed by meeting with parents or other school staff. They may also be involved in student extracurricular activities. When not directly engaged with students, high school teachers will review curriculum guidelines and develop their lesson plans. They also mark student assignments and tests and update student records with grades. The table below has more information:

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Education, with an emphasis in the subject to be taught
Key Responsibilities Make lesson plans; teach lessons, give tests and grade student homework and tests; communicate with parents about student progress or problems; supervise students in the classroom and other school settings
Licensure and/or Certification Public school high school teachers must be licensed; certification is available
Job Growth (2018-2028) 4% (for all high school teachers)*
Median Salary (2018) $60,320 (for all high school teachers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will My Responsibilities Be as a High School Teacher?

As a high school teacher, your job is to help teenagers gain knowledge to shape them for the future. Most high school teachers focus on one subject, such as mathematics, science, art, music or reading. Some teachers may teach a range of classes within one subject. For example, a history teacher may teach U.S. history, government and European history classes.

You'll also help with social development by encouraging teamwork and responsibility and fostering a sense of self-worth. Teachers are often role models for students, helping them to understand who they are and who they could become as they mature.

Your job duties include:

  • Designing curriculum
  • Creating classroom presentations
  • Grading student's work
  • Assisting students who fall behind
  • Developing testing materials
  • Assigning homework
  • Evaluating students
  • Preparing grade cards
  • Meeting with parents

Some teachers may have to monitor students in the hallways, lunchroom or study hall. You may also have the chance to run an after-school organization such as art club or the mock trial team.

What Requirements Must I Meet?

To be hired as a high school teacher, you need at least a bachelor's degree in education, which typically includes an area of study or endorsement in the subject you wish to teach. Most teaching programs include an internship where you'll work as a student teacher in a school environment.

A teacher's license is required in all states and for all public high school teachers. Licensing is administered by the State Board of Education, and requirements for licensing vary by state. Most states require a bachelor's degree and student teaching experience.

You may consider voluntary certification through a professional entity such as the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). The NBPTS offers certifications in different subject areas for high school teachers. Certification is gained by demonstrating your knowledge through assessment tests (www.nbpts.org).

How Much Can I Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the secondary school teachers in the 10%-90% range earned $39,740-$97,400, as of May 2018 (www.bls.gov). The median salary was reported as $60,320. These figures did not include special or vocational education teachers.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Career and technical education teachers and middle school teachers perform many of the same duties as high school teachers. They all use curriculum guidelines to develop lesson plans. They also all teach classes and use tests and other methods to assess how well their students are doing and grade their work. These teachers may also be involved in extracurricular activities with students, such as supervising a club.

Career and technical education teachers focus on instructing students in vocational programs to prepare them for entering a career field, which is different from the high school teachers' focus of preparing students to enter college. Middle school teachers work with students in grades six through eight, and prepare students to enter high school. Like high school teachers, middle school teachers and career and technical education teachers need a bachelor's degree and teaching license.