What Makes a Great History Teacher?

The best history teachers love telling stories about the old days. They bring a passion and enthusiasm for the people of ages past, and they find a way to get their students caught up in the sweep of history. If you’re interested a career in education and have a passion for social studies and history, you might want to consider pursuing a career as a history teacher.

History teachers are responsible for instructing the professionals of tomorrow on the likes of American and world history, including relevant events such as the Revolutionary War, Civil War, World War I and II and broader historical movements/themes such as the Civil Rights Movement, Cold War and anti-war protests.

History teachers usually work in middle schools, high schools and colleges. It’s an ideal profession for those who are passionate about the past and can tie it into how we live today.

Here’s a more thorough look at the education requirements, career options and career outlook for a history teacher — keeping in mind that the greatest teachers have the greatest careers.

Education Requirements

The bare minimum to work as a history teacher in a public school district is a bachelor’s degree with specialized training in history and teaching techniques. Many school districts these days want their teachers to either hold a master’s degree when they’re hired or to get one within a certain time frame after they’ve started working. Public school teachers need to acquire a state-issued license.

History teachers can benefit from gaining accreditation from the likes of the Teacher Education Accreditation Council or a similar teaching association. Doing so helps to boost the professionalism of a teacher.

It’s also worth noting that it’s possible to land a teaching job without a four-year degree, but these jobs are typically offered only by private schools where the salary and benefits don’t match those of public school districts. And even private schools are requiring degrees.

If you hope to teach at the college level, you’ll probably need a master’s degree or doctorate.

Career Options

A history teacher can start at the middle school level, work up to high school and get into teaching Advanced Placement (AP), or advanced placement, history courses, which are similar to those taught at the university level.

Furthermore, you can always aspire to teach history at the university level. These are jobs are at the highest level of education, and the salary and benefits are generally more favorable than at the K-12 scale.

Other Things to Consider if Your Pursue a History Teaching Career

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for a high school teacher is about $53,000, though this number varies widely based on the tenure, education and district that the professional is teaching in. There is an even greater potential for earnings at the university level.

In terms of career outlook, the BLS expects the high school teaching jobs to grow by 7 percent over the coming decade while middle school and post-secondary teaching jobs will grow by 17, though it’s difficult to say how much of that growth will include history teacher jobs.  Nonetheless, there looks to be opportunity in teaching  in the short and long term, especially in areas with booming populations like Nevada, Arizona and the Carolinas.

Another thing that we can’t forget to mention about teaching jobs, notably in the public school system, is the fringe benefits. The biggest one is summer vacation. For the most part, teachers get the same amount of time off that students get. That means breaks for Christmas, Easter, spring, Thanksgiving and summer vacation. All in all, that can add up to four months of vacation time.

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