Becoming a History Teacher: Job Description & Salary Info

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What are the pros and cons of a history teacher career? Get real job descriptions, career outlooks and salary info to see if becoming a history teacher is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of Becoming a History Teacher

The career of a history teacher can be very fulfilling, despite the challenges. You'll have the opportunity to teach high school or college students about history and open their eyes up to the past through lessons, assignments and activities. Check out these pros and cons to see if becoming a history teacher is a good fit for you.

Pros of Being a History Teacher
Opportunity to be creative and inspire high school or college students*
Pay is decent (estimated annual mean salary of $59,330 for high school teachers)*
Ability to serve as a positive role model for youth*
School year provides for a flexible work schedule*

Cons of Being a History Teacher
Demand to make sure students are learning and remain engaged*
Need for a good amount of schooling (at least four years of undergraduate studies)*
Pressure to constantly grade papers and examinations*
Slight growth, but at a rate considered slower than average (10% employment growth between 2014 and 2024 for high school teachers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Career Info

Job Description

History teachers work within private and public schools, as well as colleges and universities. You'll be in charge of a classroom of students and will spend the school year teaching them about specific aspects of history, like European history or U.S. history. For both high school and college history teachers, you'll prepare course materials, assign homework, grade students and keep students engaged in their learning.

Within the high school level, you'll work with teenage students, so you'll need to closely monitor the development of students socially, as well as academically. This responsibility may require you to meet with parents and work with school administrators to help address any challenges facing your students. At the college level, you may be able to hold office hours so that your students can meet with you one-on-one. It's also common for history teachers, known as professors at the post secondary level, to engage in research projects as a way for them to develop their own knowledge and contribute to the academic world.

Career Growth and Salary Stats

There is a slight growth in employment projected for history teachers. In the case of postsecondary teachers, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment will grow by 13% between 2014 and 2024 as the number of students attending college increases. For high school teachers, the growth amounts to 10% between 2014 and 2024, the BLS reports. As a whole, the enrollment of students in high school should slow down with the student-teacher ratio expected to decline.

History teachers are able to make a decent living. In May 2014, postsecondary history teachers earned a mean annual wage of $73,720, the BLS reports. They can be employed at technical and trade schools, as well as community colleges and four-year universities. High school teachers earn a little less, making an annual mean salary of $59,330 in May 2014, according to the BLS.

Education Requirements

At minimum, you'll need to hold a bachelor's degree to become a high school history teacher. It's common for teachers to major in the subject they teach, so you'll most likely need to have an undergraduate degree in history. Your bachelor's degree in history will provide you with a solid foundation in the field, exposing you to all history subjects, from world history to American history.

At the post secondary level, it's standard for history professors to hold a master's or doctoral degree. Since you'll be teaching older students, you'll need to have a deeper understanding of history that relates to theory and research.

Licensure

Unlike college history teachers, high school history teachers are required to be licensed. The licensing process will vary depending on where you live, but you'll need to hold a bachelor's degree, practice as a teacher in a supervised classroom and pass examinations that test your knowledge of history. Some private schools do not require teachers to be licensed.

Job Postings from Real Employers

Schools across the country frequently hire history teachers. The job requires at minimum a bachelor's degree, along with proper licensing and classroom experience. There are a variety of positions, giving you the opportunity to teach a specialized history class that concentrates on a certain region or time period. Check out these job openings from real employers posted in April 2012:

  • A public high school in Massachusetts is looking for a U.S history teacher who can help students learn and guide them through their high school careers. You'll need to have a deep understanding of U.S. history, as well as hold the proper license to teach. A bachelor's degree is the minimum, although the school will also consider teachers with a master's degree.
  • A public high school in Massachusetts is hiring for a world history teacher who can work with students and teach them history. The full-time position requires at least a bachelor's degree, as well as the license to teach history in the state.
  • A public high school in Texas seeks a world history and social studies teacher with a bachelor's degree, as well as the proper documents to work within the United States.

How to Get an Edge in the Field

History teachers have a number of ways to get ahead in their field. There are organizations, like the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS), which provide professional development through conferences, workshops and networking opportunities. By being part of these programs, you'll be able to meet fellow history teachers, learn new teaching strategies and the latest trends in history. The organization also provides resources and grants as a way for you to enhance the learning opportunities of your students.

Alternative Career Paths

Librarian

If you aren't interested in becoming a history teacher, consider a career as a librarian. You'll be able to help students and adults find the books they need and support them as they work on research projects and build a love of learning. They also manage libraries that can be located on a school campus or within a community. You'll need at least a master's degree to become a librarian and may earn an estimated $57,000 annually, according to May 2011 figures from the BLS.

Childcare Worker

Another option is to become a childcare worker, which means you'll take care children when parents are at work or otherwise unavailable. The job requires a high school diploma and an ability to work with children as they grow academically and socially. The employment growth of childcare workers looks good as the BLS projects a growth of 20% between 2010 and 2020. The pay for childcare workers is much lower than librarians and teachers, as you are likely to earn $21,000 annually, according to the BLS in May 2011.

Kindergarten or Elementary School Teacher

You can also consider becoming a kindergarten or elementary school teacher if you want to work with younger children. The position requires at least a bachelor's degree, as well as the proper license and certification to teach children. Much like a history teacher, you'll be able to follow a school year schedule, which means you may not have to work during the summer months. The job outlook looks good with the BLS projecting a growth of 17% from 2010 to 2020.

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Kaplan University

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