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- About SJU
Back to High School, This Time to Teach
High school teachers do challenging and vital work. They can give teenagers a passion for learning and establish a learning model that will extend past school. Whether you decide early on to pursue a teaching career, or want to make the switch from another career, teaching is an accessible and rewarding profession.
Becoming a high school teacher might be easier than you think, with many pathways depending on your state, subject matter, and starting point. A new career could be just a few years away.
The public education system will depend on new high school teachers as the increase in demand is projected at 6 percent from 2014 to 2024. That's 55,900 new high school teachers, on top of the current 961,600 employed in the United States1. In 2014, their median pay was $56,310 per year2.
Building a Teaching Career
Every state has its own requirements for a teacher to earn a license. All require at least a bachelor's degree, which can be in any field3.
If you have a bachelor's degree in a field other than education, you will need to enroll in a master's degree program in education or other kind of certification program that your state accepts for licensing.
Although getting a bachelor's degree in education might seem like the fastest way to become a teacher, having a degree in the subject you will be teaching or job experience in that field can be a major advantage. When students ask, “Where will I ever use this lesson after high school?” a teacher with experience can cite real-world examples.
Entering the Classroom
After getting your degree, you may want to enroll in a teacher preparation program, a student teaching program, or a mentorship. Hours of supervised teaching are generally required to receive a teaching license. Student teaching hours also give prospective teachers a supportive environment to exercise the theories learned in the classroom. Some degree programs include a period of student teaching4.
Other ways to become a stronger teacher include teaching internships, volunteering at schools, and tutoring one-on-one. All of these provide experience in different environments with different responsibilities5.
Knowing which state you will be teaching in and its requirements for licensing are essential before deciding on a path to a secondary education career. Certain schools might have their own requirements for teacher qualifications such as an education degree rather than an alternative teacher education program, a larger number of student teaching hours, or a teaching or professional accreditation.
Often, the education process extends beyond hiring, because some licenses and schools require continuing professional development or education classes.
The best strategy is to decide on the area, kind of school — public, private, or technical — and the subject you want for your teaching career, and then research the requirements. The ideal road map to a high school teaching career is the one that makes use of your skills and helps you meet your goals.