High School Teacher Job Description
High school teachers prepare students for life after high school by teaching them the skills and abilities that they will need in college and the workforce.
Most high school teachers teach only one or two subjects, and have five or six groups of students in their classroom throughout the day. Classes are normally grouped by ability level, so it’s normal for a teacher to have a class with students from multiple grades.
The majority of high school teachers teach traditional academic subjects like English, math, and science, but others teach specialized or vocational subjects like physical education, special education, wood shop, mechanical drawing, and home economics. Normally (but not always), the subject that teachers teach aligns with their major in college.
In most school districts, high school teachers teach students between 9th and 12th grades, but some high schools don’t start until 10th grade.
High school teachers normally have at least one period throughout the day when they aren’t teaching a class. This time can be used to prepare lessons, grade papers, or meet with parents, teachers, or other staff.
If you like working with teenagers and want to have a job where there is potential to have a meaningful and long-lasting impact on their lives, working as a high school teacher could be a good choice for you.
Work Environment and Schedule
The majority of high school teachers work in traditional public schools, but there are also employment opportunities in private schools, charter schools, religious schools, and public magnet schools.
This can be a very rewarding occupation at times, and it’s very exciting to see students gain an appreciation for knowledge and a passion for learning. However, working as a high school teacher can also be very stressful.
In many areas of the country, classrooms are overcrowded, and budget cuts have limited the resources that teachers have available to them. Most teachers are evaluated based on the performance of their students, which can be frustrating when their students aren’t provided with the textbooks and other tools that they need to effectively learn.
Additionally, high school students aren’t known for being the most respectful age group in the world, and these teachers often have to deal with disrespectful or unmotivated students.
High school teachers often work very long hours, and spend parts of their evenings and weekends preparing lessons and grading papers. They also commonly help students before and after school, and regularly meet with parents and guidance counselors. Some teachers also work as coaches or club managers after school, which requires a big time commitment.
Most high school teachers work ten months a year, with two months off in the summer. However, some school districts have alternate schedules, where teachers work for eight weeks in a row, and then get one week off. These districts typically also take a five week break in the winter.
How to Become a High School Teacher
All high school teachers need to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. In most states, teachers are required to major in a content area like English or math, while also completing a teacher preparation program.
Teacher preparation programs teach ways to present information so that students of all backgrounds and abilities will be able to understand. These programs normally include student teaching portions, which provide critical on the job experience.
After completing a teacher preparation program, teachers need to earn their certification before they can teach in a public school (private school teachers do not always need a certification). The certification requirements vary from state to state, but most states require teachers to have a bachelor’s degree, complete a teacher preparation, and have supervised teaching experience. Some states require teachers to pass a written exam that demonstrates command of the subject they wish to teach.
In some states, teachers need to earn a master’s degree after they earn their certification to be eligible to teach in public schools.
Most of the time, teachers also have to take professional development classes each year to keep their certification. These classes are normally provided by the school system.
To learn more about the requirements for becoming a teacher, visit the Department of Education website.
There are currently 1,037,600 high school teachers in the United States, with 35,560 new high school teacher job openings created each year.
High School Teacher jobs are not expected to see much growth beyond their current levels in the next decade.
High School Teacher Salaries
High School Teacher salaries can vary depending on your experience, the location, company, industry, and benefits provided. Nationwide, most high school teachers make between $43,500 – $68,200 per year, or Not Available per hour.