How To Become a History Teacher

If you have a passion for history and are a natural teacher and communicator, you might be wondering how to become a history teacher. History teachers are the classroom instructors who teach courses in history and social studies. Most history teachers find employment at public or private high schools, junior colleges and universities.

In some respects, high school history teachers and college history professors have similar responsibilities. They both plan lessons and instruct students through lectures, group discussions, textbook readings and classwork assignments. Both high school and college history teachers assign projects and homework assignments. They evaluate students’ achievement based on the grades they earn on tests, quizzes, homework and projects. High school history teachers are typically more concerned with discipline both inside and outside the classroom. They may hold conferences with the parents of their students, particularly if the student is struggling academically or behaviorally. College history professors typically do not handle disciplinary matters or work with their students’ parents. Instead, they may advise students on courses to take, internships to pursue and academic or research projects within the field of history.

The educational requirements for aspiring history teachers vary depending whether the candidate intends to teach at the high school level or the college level. In either case, a college degree is a necessity. High school history teachers need a bachelor’s degree. Often, aspiring high school-level instructors must complete coursework in both secondary education and a content area, in this case history. During their undergraduate education, these aspiring teachers will learn teaching methods, child psychology and classroom management. They will likely have to complete a student teaching experience as well. High school teachers must obtain the licensure or secondary school certification required by the state in which they intend to work.

College professors must earn an advanced degree in the subject in which they wish to teach. For aspiring history teachers, this means a master’s degree in history, for those who intend to work at a community college or technical school, or a doctorate (Ph.D.) in history for those who want to work at four-year colleges and universities. Master’s degree programs may take only a couple of years to complete, while completing both a master’s and a doctorate program may take six years of graduate-level study. During their education, professors will most likely have to complete a thesis for their master’s degree program and a dissertation if they choose to pursue a Ph.D. Experience working in the field of history in some capacity can also help aspiring teachers secure their desired positions.

At the high school level, history teachers earn a median salary of $53,230 per year. Full-time history teachers at the college level earn a mean annual salary of $73,090. If you communicate well with adolescents and adults of all ages, get excited about history and want to share that excitement, knowing how to become a history teacher could be the start of a rewarding new career in postsecondary education.

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