High School Teaching Degrees in Education

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.

Working to Become a High School Teacher

How do you become a high school teacher? In most cases, you need to figure out which area you want to specialize in, you need a degree in that area (in some schools you will need a Masters Degree in Education), and you will most likely need to get your Teaching Certification.

Some individuals just have a knack for communicating with teenagers and young adults, these individuals should consider a career as a high school teacher. If you want to help students at a critical stage of development, learn the skills to step out into the world and follow their dreams into adulthood, this can be a rewarding role.

What is great about this path is that you can test the waters by becoming a substitute teacher before working as a full-time salaried teacher. In fact, many young professionals armed with just a bachelor’s degree and the want to teach fill in for full-time faculty every day, across the nation.

High school teachers require a great deal more specialization in their role than an elementary teacher. Since teachers generally focus on subject matter, with revolving classes of student every hour, you should focus your bachelors education on your preferred specialization.

Whether you want to teach math, English, music, or a foreign language, you should become proficient in your subject as you develop the skills to become an effective teacher. After all, you can be the best mathematician, or the best musician in your state, but if you haven’t learned what it takes to communicate effectively with students, your talents will never improve your students’ lives.

Consider an Accredited Online Master of Education or MAT program:

Earn your Master of Arts in Teaching and teaching credential online from top-ranked USC Rossier School of Education. A Bachelor’s degree is required to apply. Learn more.

Lamar University offers numerous 100% Online Master of Education degrees within different concentration tracks, including: Special Education, Curriculum & Instruction. Educational Leadership, ESL, School Counseling, and more.
Click for Admissions Information.

Arkansas State University offers numerous Online M.Ed. degrees, with nationally recognized and accredited educational degrees at all levels (The College of Education & Behavioral Science is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)) – as well as bachelor completion and professional certifications.
Learn more.

Advancing Your Education with a Masters Degree & In-Depth Subject Knowledge

High school teachers must have an in-depth knowledge of their subject and be able to communicate in an interesting and interactive manner. Interpersonal skills are also required for effective communication with parents and administrators.

Understanding of statistics assists in effectively teaching within the requirements set forth by state mandated testing requirements. High school teachers may choose to obtain a Bachelors or Masters degree in Secondary Education.

Read on to find several featured schools that have online K-12 or Secondary Education programs. These degrees are some of the most common for high school teachers. A Masters in Education degree is the most common degree to pursue for current teachers. You can reach out to these schools directly by clicking “More Info”. We recommend you ask them pertinent questions specific to their degree: career outcomes, program length, learning environment, and financial aid assistance.

Learning to Respect Young Adults While Guiding their Learning

High school teachers often are required to step into a more involved role with their students. This is because they are starting to understand the pressures of adulthood, while still facing the pressures that stem from coming into their maturity. High school students are thinking about a lot of things: which college is best, how to handle intimate relationships, and dealing with a wide spectrum of emotions as their brains continue to develop. Not to mention, many high school students come from families that expect them to start working after school and weekend jobs for extra money and to learn the value of hard work.

When you add all these elements together, you can see why these young adults look to their teachers for guidance and support, in addition to the knowledge and tools an education provides. This is why you may consider taking as many psychology and behavior focused classes while you earn your degree in K-12 (or Secondary Education).

State Certifications for High School Teaching

Many states also now offer an option to obtain teaching credentials with a degree in the field in which one will be teaching, such as History or English. State certification is required for teaching in public schools, private schools may offer less restrictive requirements.

Understanding of statistics assists in effectively teaching within the requirements set forth by state mandated testing requirements. High school teachers may choose to obtain a Bachelors or Masters degree in Secondary Education.

Career Outlook and Trending for High School Teachers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), “The median wage for high school teachers was $56,310 in 2014 (source). Of course, every state will have its own average salary depending on a number of variables, including cost of living and type of school. High school teachers generally make an average of $3,000 more than preschool, primary, secondary and special education teachers, according to the BLS.

The job growth for high school teachers is expected to grow about 6% annually from 2014-2024 – also according to the BLS. This growth will be affected by state budgets for education, which can also vary wildly by state. The best thing you can do to become better informed is talk to schools in your area about employment and salary statistics. The projected growth for this position in the next ten years is 5-9%, which is below average. Individuals completing degree work towards becoming a high school teacher should consider employment opportunities in high-demand areas, such as inner city school districts such as those in the Midwest or isolated rural communities, especially ion the West coast.

The positions offer more job security for those just entering the market. High school teachers are especially poised to have a positive impact on young adults during trying periods of life, this position offers significant career fulfillment.

Skills & Requirements of a High School Teacher

High school teachers often counsel, support and coach their students. This career requires a great deal of knowledge in effectively communicating with teens, as well as the ability to build trust with and motivate young adults. Individuals pursuing an education to become a high school teacher often must master the following subjects:

  • A specialization in their field of teaching (math, science, history, language arts)
  • Adolescent Psychology
  • Counseling and Support
  • Computer and Internet Technology
  • Curriculum Design and Implementation

Most Important Skills to Teach K-12 Students

Motivation
Able to inspire students to learn and study.
Expert Knowledge
Subject matter expert on the area of study you are teaching.
Public Speaking
Able to speak concisely to keep students interested.

Motivation
With an age group that has many forms of distractions, especially with new technology, you must be motivated to show up and inspire your classes every day. Sure, you can’t be perfect all the time, but if you don’t have a real passion for teaching, and respect for your students, you won’t be effective in your role. They will sense it if you aren’t there mentally, and you’ll find it pretty lonely at the head of the class.

Expert Knowledge
If you are going to be convincing in your lessons, you simply can’t fake it around high school age kids. They are simply too inquisitive to sit back and absorb information without questioning, debating, and trying to catch you slipping up. They also have the internet at their disposal, which means they can cross-examine what you tell them the moment you speak. But this doesn’t have to be a scary thing. First, learn your subject matter and become an expert. If you prepare, you won’t slip up. Second, if you do make a mistake and a student calls out your error, don’t be defensive. Applaud their effort and ability to question others and seek the truth.

Public Speaking
High school students can also be a tough crowd. If you are timid, especially in the wrong classroom, you might find yourself with an out of control room of kids. Even if you’re an introvert, you can practice techniques to build confidence in your ability to speak in front of 20+ young adults. It isn’t just about your confidence, it’s about earning the respect of your students so they will value the words that come out of your mouth. Student teaching can give you real world experience in this area before you have your own class. In most education related degree programs you will gain first hand experience in a real classroom before earning your degree.

Associations and Organizations You Can Lean on for Support

It is also a good idea to talk to organizations and associations focused on education, specifically high school teachers. However, it is good to join education focused associations, even if they are more broad than high school in focus. Here are a few that can get you started…

National High School AssociationWebsite
The main purpose of this association is to foster communication and support among high school educators and administrators. They have professional advice, seminars and guidance for furthering your career as a high school teacher.

Association of American EducatorsWebsite
This organization seeks to act as a support system by offering representation and advocacy for high school teachers. They also offer grants and other opportunities that help educators be more effective and make an impact in the field of education.

American Federation of TeachersWebsite
This is a trade union that represents educators and works to impact public policy to help reform education and better the system. If you want to stay in the loop about how big and small government are affecting education, learn more about this organization.

The best way to discover the best way forward for your career as a high school teacher is talk to schools in your area about their degree programs to see how they line up with your goals in teaching. Whether you want to start as a substitute teacher to test the waters or jump right into the field, you can’t map your path until you gain inspiration from educators who work to inspire people like you to inspire our next generation of learners.

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.