Teacher Education for High School Teachers

Teacher education programs can help you acquire a foundation in pedagogical theories and practices, as well as the instructional methods you'll need to teach a high school subject. Read on to learn about the teacher education programs that can prepare you for this career.

Is Teacher Education for Me?

Career Overview

Teacher education programs for aspiring high school teachers are available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The purpose of the programs is to help you acquire the skills you'll need to create lesson plans, facilitate classroom discussions and evaluate students' progress. Core coursework typically includes topics in educational psychology and philosophy, classroom management and educational technology; studies in adolescent development and special education may also be part of the curriculum. You'll also explore creative instructional methodologies for teaching your specific subject, whether it's French or physics.

States typically require that approved teacher education programs include teaching internships that may last a semester. Professional development schools, which are partnerships between universities and high schools, are 1-year teaching internships that take place under the guidance of experienced teachers. Prerequisites might include a bachelor's degree in a relevant major. Through classroom observation and progressive experience, you'll learn to incorporate educational theories into your teaching practice.

Career Options

As you gain experience as a high school teacher, you may become head of your department and mentor other teachers. Some high school teachers also aspire to pursue jobs in administration, such as assistant principal or principal.

Employment and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted employment of high school teachers to grow by just 6% nationwide between 2012 and 2022, which is slower than average. The number of jobs available may be impacted by legislation and government funding for public schools. The ability to relocate to high-need areas may benefit beginning teachers. In May 2013, the BLS reported that secondary school teachers, with the exception of special and vocational educators, earned an average annual salary of $58,260 (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Become a High School Teacher?

Undergraduate Programs

At the undergraduate level, you can major in your subject area and minor in education or select a double major in a major subject area and education. In either case, you'll complete general education requirements in science, math, humanities, social studies and communications. Many schools won't allow you to formally apply to their education programs until you fulfill prerequisites in general education and a major subject area.

Graduate Programs

Teacher education courses for high school teachers that lead to licensure and a master's degree have a similar core curriculum. Research requirements, including a course in research methods, differentiate graduate-level licensure programs at many schools. These are typically intensive 1-year programs, including summers, with heavy field experience for students who have earned a bachelor's degree in a major subject area.

Online Graduate Programs

Several on-campus and online graduate programs are available for high school teachers who would like to study specific areas of education, like curriculum development or educational leadership. Additional program options may include science and math education, educational technology and literacy.

Required Skills

Successful teachers are patient, creative, flexible and organized. Teachers also need to be able to manage high levels of stress. Overcrowded classrooms, lack of control over the curricula, school violence and other pressures can contribute to teacher burnout.


Licensure is optional for many private school teachers. If you want to teach in a public school, licensure is mandatory, with specific requirements that vary by state. Typically, you must have at least a bachelor's degree in education or your subject area. State-approved teacher-education programs are generally accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education or the Teacher Education Accreditation Council.

Alternative Licensing

Alternative licensure programs are available in every state for applicants with bachelor's degrees, and many are available online. Some programs allow candidates to begin teaching immediately under the supervision of an experienced teacher while completing their course requirements. Other alternative programs are designed to be completed in 1-2 semesters before graduates are assigned their own high school classrooms. In some cases, completion of an alternative program leads to a master's degree in education.

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