High School consists of grades nine through twelve and constitutes the final level of education mandated by the government. Many students will go on to college, others will begin working as soon as they graduate, and, sadly, there are also students who will not graduate. Though the percentage of students who drop out is relatively small (6.5 percent as of 2014), for those who do drop out, this decision will forever change their lives. But whichever path a student’s future takes, high school is the place where much of that path is determined, and it is teachers who play a large role in a students' direction. High school teachers prepare students for college and “the real world.” High school curricula are structured around core academics that students need as the foundation for college. Classes delve more deeply into a wider array of subjects, such as physics, calculus and U.S. history. Students begin to study foreign languages and have more flexibility with electives like art and home economics. This is why it is so important that high school teachers be experts in their fields; whereas elementary school teachers introduce their class to a variety of basic subjects, high school teachers are often devoted to one subject and teach it to multiple classes.
To become a high school teacher, you need to fulfill the basic educational requirements for teachers, though it’s important to note that standards for teaching are set by each state. You can check the specific requirements for the state where you want to teach on our state pages. You must have a Bachelor’s degree and, to teach high school, it’s very common to major in the subject you want to teach. It also helps if you minor or have a second major in education to learn how to teach your subject. Though Master’s degrees are generally not required, teachers with a Master’s degree have a greater chance for promotions and potential increases in salary. You must also be licensed to teach in your state, which you can do through an accredited teacher education program. Programs are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) or the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC). Teacher education programs instruct you on how to become an educator through lessons on pedagogy, teaching methods and educational technologies, as well as giving you actual classroom experience as a student teacher. You can enroll in a teacher education program after you’ve completed your Bachelor’s degree, if you didn’t major in education. However, some universities have NCATE accredited schools of education with teacher education programs you can enroll in while you’re pursuing your Bachelor’s. High school teachers must also pass the basic teaching tests to demonstrate efficient knowledge and capabilities.
Where Can I Teach?
Public High Schools
Public schools are governed by the United States Department of Education on the federal level. The state’s board of education governs them on the state level, and the school district governs them on the local level. Public schools receive federal funding, and are subject to national education laws and standards. They are also available to everyone, so high school teachers encounter a wide variety of students from different backgrounds and walks of life. Teachers can also teach at magnet and charter schools, which are public schools, though they are built upon a specific educational philosophy and therefore tend to be smaller and more selective, with additional requirements for their teachers.
Private Elementary Schools
Private schools are operated and governed by private institutions, They are funded primarily by tuition and donations, and many are founded by religious groups with the goal of providing a religious foundation for the education of students. That said, because private schools are autonomous, they set their own standards for teachers. Most follow the government’s guidelines to maintain a high educational standard, but it is important to check with the school to see their specific requirements. Like public schools, private school teachers must typically have a Bachelor’s degree at the very least. Private school teachers may not have to be licensed or certified, or they might have to be certified by a program designated by the school (some Catholic schools require their teachers be certified by the NAPCIS Teacher Certification Program). For information on how to conduct your job search, including the elements of your application as well as finding job postings, visit our Find Your Teaching Job page.