High school teachers specialize in teaching a specific area of study to students in grades nine through 12. Generally speaking, they prepare and present lessons, administer and grade tests, instruct students individually and in groups, and maintain classroom discipline.
Becoming a high school teacher means wearing many hats. They must evaluate and track each student’s performance and progress, take students on field trips, supervise extracurricular activities and provide after-school tutoring or assistance to students with behavioral or learning difficulties.
All high school teachers in the public school system are required to earn a bachelor’s degree in education (BSE). They must also complete 24 to 36 hours of college courses in the subject area they wish to teach.
An increasing number of school systems encourage their high school teachers to work toward a master’s degre, but this is not currently a requirement. As an exception to the rule, some private schools do not require their teachers to have a bachelor’s degree, but it is preferred.
Student teachers practice teaching for one semester under the supervision of a certified and experienced teacher. They must qualify for a teaching license to ensure that certain standards of excellence are met. Licenses are granted by the respective boards and must be renewed annually.
Various teacher-training programs are accredited by The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. While graduation from an accredited program is not mandatory, it certainly makes it easier for teachers to fulfill licensure requirements.
High school teachers — also known as secondary school teachers — instruct students from around age 13 to 18 on a specific subject. Some of their common professional duties include:
Anyone interested in pursuing a teaching career must be patient, motivated, organized, dependable and able to cope with stress. High school teachers in particular must provide a strong classroom structure for students in this age range, since they are experiencing many personal changes and in some cases, preparing for college.
Currently, there is a high demand for high school teachers, particularly in the subject areas of math and science.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, about 1.1 million people in the U.S. held positions as secondary school teachers in 2004, and job opportunities are expected to be good to excellent well into the next decade. Employment opportunities will vary, however, depending on the locality, subject and grade level.
A high school teacher’s salary will vary widely depending on the school’s location and experience level of the teacher. In 2004, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the average salary of teachers in grades K-12 was $43,000.