HOW TO BECOME A HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER
Educating children in some of their most formative years is a big responsibility. Working with children can be quite challenging, requiring a secondary school teacher to have strong communication skills, patience, and a passion for teaching.
But it can also be quite rewarding. High school teachers who specialize in at least one subject have a special opportunity to share their academic passions with students. And figuring out how to become a high school teacher is a fairly simple process that can be broken down into four steps:
- Complete your bachelor’s degree. This includes education in the subjects you want to teach and a teacher training program.
- Get a few weeks of student teaching experience.
- Apply for certification after meeting various state requirements.
- Submit job applications for high school teaching positions that interest you.
- As with all teacher requirements, the specific requirements for high school teachers vary from state to state. However, below you can learn about the typical path students can take to become a high school teacher.
- You can start your journey to becoming a high school teacher today; take a moment to inquire about your unique opportunities through the School of Education.
WHAT DEGREE DO YOU NEED TO BECOME A HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER?
While virtually any degree can eventually be converted to teaching, the most direct route to becoming a high school teacher is with a high school bachelor’s degree. However, in addition to the pedagogical requirements shared by all teachers and specific grade-level requirements, meeting the educational requirements in high school also includes the need for subject area expertise.
This can include courses in biology, math, chemistry, or any courses related to your areas of interest. After you complete your degree, you will also need to meet state licensure requirements.
WHAT COURSES DO I NEED TO BECOME A HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER?
The courses required to become a high school teacher are based in part on the areas that the future teacher would like to teach. Required courses also depend on the grade level of your students. For example, the high school degree program prepares students to teach middle and high school students.
In addition to competitive majors such as chemistry or math, students take core courses including:
- EDUC 123 Adolescent Development
- EDUC 308 Creating a Positive Classroom Climate
- PSY 101 General Psychology I
- PHIL 251 Ethics
- EDUC 322 Teaching Evaluation
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO BECOME A HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER?
Like engineers, doctors or lawyers, becoming a teacher requires passing a series of exams to ensure certain standards of competence. Some paths to becoming a teacher are longer than others, but becoming a licensed high school teacher can usually be accomplished in 4-5 years. It includes:
- Completion of a bachelor’s degree (4 years)
- Completion of a teacher education program (1-2 semesters)
- Certification completion requirements (please allow at least 8 weeks)
Students in Drexel’s undergraduate teaching programs can complete all of the above requirements in four years. Students who already have a bachelor’s degree can enroll in Drexel’s teacher certification program to complete the required courses and student teaching experience.
HOW MUCH DO HIGH SCHOOL TEACHERS EARN?
High school teacher salaries vary depending on several factors, including the subject they teach, years of experience, level of education, and type of school (public, private, parochial, etc.). According to pay.com, the average high school teacher salary is $58,329.
EXPERIENCE STUDENT TEACHING IN THE DREXEL CO-OP PROGRAM
Student teaching is one of the most important prerequisites for becoming a high school teacher. This part of secondary school teacher training is essentially a type of internship where future teachers have the opportunity to apply pedagogical theory in practice. Working closely with a teacher mentor, the student teacher will instruct teaching for one or two semesters, culminating in a minimum of 13 weeks of practicum.
But not all student learning programs are the same. Students can work directly in their field of study, providing a practical foundation for developing professional knowledge and preparing them for real-world experiences that can lead to a more competitive CV.
Co-op programs can also provide a more flexible way to meet student learning requirements. For example, students can choose a schedule that allows them to teach two semesters instead of one. You can learn more about these requirements in the Student Teaching FAQ.
SECONDARY SCHOOL TEACHING CERTIFICATE
Aspiring high school teachers must be certified in the state where they intend to teach. This includes requiring a bachelor’s degree, a teacher education program, student teaching experience, passing certification exams, and passing various background checks to work with children.
For a high school teacher, this usually includes field exams. For example, a prospective high school teacher who wanted to teach math will generally need to complete an exam in a math-related subject.
PENNSYLVANIA SECONDARY SCHOOL TEACHING CERTIFICATION
Becoming a high school teacher in Pennsylvania requires a bachelor’s degree, completion of a teacher education program approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, and passing various certification exams.
Secondary teachers must complete the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators (CORE), Pre-Academic Performance Assessment (PAPA) and all relevant Praxis subject assessments. Completion of various background checks, including a child abuse background check, as well as state and federal background checks, are also required.
Earning your PA high school teacher certification can prepare you for a rewarding lifelong career helping young people on the cusp of entering high school and formulating their own life paths. If you think you might want to pursue a career in teaching, contact the Drexel School of Education for more information.