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What Are the Requirements for Becoming a History Teacher?

Read on to learn what education and certification are required to become a history teacher. Get information about different specialties and levels of teaching that are available in the field of history.

History Content Overview

You might think of ancient times when you picture teaching history, but the subject actually encompasses a much broader scope and timeline. For example, a study of the 20th century could fall into the category of modern history. Other specializations might include the history of labour, colonial medicine, the African Diaspora, maritime history, politics and social thought, the social history of science and the history of media, to name a few. Teachers can find employment across the spectrum of history topics.

Important Facts About History Teachers

Middle SchoolHigh SchoolCollege
Median Salary (2018)*$58,600 (for middle school teachers, except special and career/technical education)$60,320 (for secondary school teachers, except special and career/technical education)$74,590 (for history postsecondary teachers)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)*8% growth (for middle school teachers) 8% growth (for high school teachers)10% growth (for history postsecondary teachers)
On-the-job TrainingStudent teaching included in education requirementsStudent teaching included in education requirementsNot required, recommended work as graduate teaching assistant
Work EnvironmentPublic or private schools Public, private or charter schoolsCommunity and four-year colleges, universities

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Duties and Responsibilities

As a history teacher, you'll need to plan lessons for your students, grade papers and projects, monitor student progress, and prepare students for testing at the state and national levels. College professors may teach a more specialized area of history, based on geographic location or era of history. You may also need to interact with students outside of the classroom, such as by being an adviser or supervising extracurricular activities.

Middle School Requirements

In order to become a middle school history teacher, you'll need a bachelor's degree. Some states require middle school teachers to major in elementary education, while it's acceptable in other states to major in history and take additional teacher preparation classes. Certification for middle school teachers varies widely by state, but you'll need to have a bachelor's degree and have completed a teacher preparation program. Additionally, some states also require that middle school teachers go on to earn a master's degree.

High School Requirements

To become a high school teacher in the public school system, you will need a bachelor's degree, preferably in history. Typically, in the sophomore year of your education-degree program, teaching classes are available to complement your major. Graduation from a teacher education program approved by your state's board of education is required for licensure. All approved programs have a student teaching component.

Licensure requirements vary by state. California teacher credential requirements are representative of many states. They include graduating from a state-approved teacher education program and passing basic skills, subject proficiency and teacher knowledge examinations. Additional requirements may include technology training and earning a master's degree within a certain amount of years.

Special Program for High School Teachers

You might be able to qualify for a government program that will cancel all or a portion of your educational debt if you have a Federal Perkins Loan, or Direct Subsidized, Direct Unsubsidized, Subsidized Federal Stafford or Unsubsidized Federal Stafford loans. To qualify for this program as a history teacher, you have to be a full-time teacher for five consecutive years in a public school system that serves disadvantaged families. If your state has determined that it's deficient in history teachers, you may be a candidate for the program.

College Professor Requirements

Community colleges and four-year institutions have different academic requirements for their professors. A master's degree in history often suffices to teach at the community college level. To teach survey courses of American and European history at community colleges, applicants need strong research skills but not necessarily a highly specialized field of study.

Universities seek more specialized candidates to teach a typically broader range of courses. One way you can gain experience as a college history professor is by teaching sections of introductory history courses as a graduate student. Teaching is usually encouraged in graduate school to prepare grad students for their future academic careers. Universities and four-year colleges generally require their professors to have doctoral degrees.