Those who wish to teach high school specifically will also find themselves pursuing a degree in secondary education. While some courses offer the opportunity for an undergraduate to study instruction for grades K-12, the majority of those who aspire to teach in a high school setting will find themselves enrolled in either a bachelor’s of liberal arts program with a major in the academic area they wish to teach, followed by a master’s degree in secondary education, or in an undergraduate and master’s program that teach them about both their content area and high school instruction right from the start.
High school is defined as the grades between 8-12, although many typical American high schools will classify this as grades 9-12. Whether one wants to become a 9th grade English teacher or instruct physics to high school seniors, the high school teacher career path begins with a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university.
Bachelor’s of High School Education Instruction Programs
There are two academic routes to consider when one wants to study high school instruction. Both require applying to universities and colleges, meeting acceptance requirements and successfully enrolling into a program. The two programs that can classify as high school instruction programs are:
- A Bachelor of Art in Liberal Arts (Concentration in Desired Subject)
- A Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education
Liberal arts students who major in their desired field will often minor in education or take classes relating to the subject, such as courses in teaching techniques. Even if a student does not major in education, they should still minor or take courses relating to the field that will help prepare them for a graduate program. The most common concentrations for liberal arts majors who want to become high school teachers include English, Biology, History, Spanish, French, Music and Art. Many students who start learning foreign languages often have little to no prior experience, and are intended to become fluent by the end of their four years of study. A liberal arts degree instills students with a broad set of skills and knowledge that is applicable across many different professional fields and not limited to education.
High school instruction majors, on the other hand, will often minor in their preferred subject. The majority of this curriculum’s courses concentrate on adolescent development, teaching practices and theories that pertain specifically to high school instruction, curriculum management, assessment and additional aspects of education.
High school teaching degrees are designed to prepare undergraduates for the state-issued examinations all aspiring educators must take in order to obtain certification and licensure. There are currently 33 states that require high school teachers to possess a master’s degree before they are eligible to receive certification. Most careers also require experience obtained during graduate school. This isn’t hard to achieve, as all secondary education master’s programs will require students to conduct research and work inside a classroom setting.
Master’s of High School Education Instruction
A high school education instruction graduate degree is issued as a Master of Science or Master of Art in Secondary Education. These degrees can be used by those who did not major in education during their undergraduate studies to become eligible to test for certification and obtain a license, but it is also required for many who wish to teach advanced levels of subject material such as high school English and literature or science.
High school instruction is broad, with subjects often times having subdivisions based on the grade level. Ninth grade students, for example, may be studying literary devices and being introduced to the “classics” with plays such as Shakespeare, while upperclassmen will be prepared to explore the themes and meanings behind more mature novels. A student who wants to become a high school must therefore spend a great deal of time researching and mastering their preferred subject, and doing so within an educational concentration will allow them to develop the skills needed to interpret, retain and later present information to others as a teacher.
Those who want to become high school educators and major in secondary education will gain the knowledge and skills needed to work with children in grades 8-12, or approximately ages 12-18. Given the involved nature of a high school teacher’s work, the secondary education master’s programs al stress the importance of experience and will require students to participate in classroom instruction alongside a mentor teacher. This period of work usually lasts for one semester and students gain valuable experience preparing lesson plans and observing teaching methods. They may also be given the task of evaluating student assignments and exams in coordination with the supervising teacher.
Ph.D. of High School Education Instruction
Secondary education Ph.D. programs will prepare students for advanced professional opportunities in the field of education. These degrees are not easily accessible to recent graduates. Instead, a teaching doctorate degree is designed for qualified and experienced teachers who want to deepen their knowledge, refine their skills and engage in deep research regarding the latest developments in teaching practices and concepts.
The Ph.D. program of secondary education tends to have a concentration that students can choose from, and this is most often always the same subject which they studied during their bachelor’s program. A Ph.D. in high school instruction is meant to showcase a teacher’s mastery of a subject and it implementation into the school system. Biology, for example, is a vast field that is experienced differently depending on the grade level to which its being studied. The curriculum development and teaching methods utilized won’t be the same for an 8th grade teacher as they will be for one who is responsible for high school sophomores.
Ph.D. students who want to specialize in high school instruction will need to have at least two years’ experience working in an academic environment with high school students. Graduate schools also usually require that all education Ph.D. students hold a valid license to teach in their state and have earned their master’s in secondary education, their specialization or another approved major.
High School Education Instruction Careers
High school teachers work in both public and private schools across the nation. Their jobs are very demanding, with most high school educators having a maximum of 15 vacation days per year. Although summers are free, teachers often spend them preparing lessons and overviewing the curriculum for the following school year. Evenings, weekends and other free time are often consumed with additional hours of preparation and grading papers, so a passion and dedication for the subject and student success is a must.
Outside of the classroom setting, a high school teacher may be given other responsibilities within the school such as supervising extracurricular activities and class field trips, organizing tutoring sessions with students and overseeing clubs pertaining to their subject. High school teachers will also often assess students’ progress and organize or participate in meetings with education officials, counselors and student parents as needed.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that high school teacher careers are growing at a rate of 6 percent. There are a projected 52,900 new job openings from 2012 through 2022, and the BLS also noted that job growth is anticipated to be faster in the South and West regions of the country, as well as in urban and rural school districts in comparison to suburban school districts. The states with the highest reported employment levels for secondary school instructors were Texas, California, New York, Pennsylvania and Illinois.
The annual salary for a high school teacher is $59,330 according to Secondary School Teachers May 2014 Occupational Employment and Wages report. Secondary education administrators and high school principals were found to have slightly higher salaries. A high school principal earns approximately $87,760 per year, while secondary education administrators were reported to have a mean annual income of $91,780 and postsecondary administrators earn $101,910 per year.