What is a History Teacher’s Salary?

A multitude of variables can affect a history teacher’s salary. The main ones are the location, school district or college, and education level needed to teach the classes. Any average figure will not account for these and other factors. That said, the typical history teacher’s  salary is $45,000 –- definitely not bad.

Pay rates also vary substantially because history is taught at so many levels. You can work for an elementary school, a postgraduate history program or anything in between, and each one pays differently. Generally, however, salaries increase with the difficulty of the class and your level of education (earning an advanced degree like a master’s or doctorate usually will get you a raise).

Education Requirements

The education requirements to become a history teacher depend on what type of school is hiring. An elementary school will likely be satisfied with a basic teaching degree, while a high school will likely require at least a bachelor’s in history. Colleges and universities will usually demand at least a master’s in history, and at the postgraduate level, a doctorate may be needed to seriously compete against other job candidates.

Career Options: What it’s like to be a History Teacher

Elementary School

Many schools focusing on this age group have one teacher cover all subjects, but some grade schools break up the subjects after a certain age. Which age that is depends on the school district. History teachers in these districts will also need to know about child development and psychology to keep control of their classrooms and retain students’ attention. This is a good choice if you love both young children and history.

Middle School

The schedule and class setup in a middle school is typically like that of high school, but the children’s maturity levels are in between those of students at the elementary and secondary levels. This causes an interesting mix of mature and childish behavior. Some find it fun to watch kids as they step into more adult-like shoes, while others prefer students to be more predictable. Expect your students to challenge you on the material as they test out their developing critical-thinking skills.

High School

High school teachers typically stick to one subject. The students are older, so the presentation of the material doesn’t have to be as “fun” as it does in grade school. It does, however, have to be very interesting to keep the attention of students who are mostly in your class because the school is making them attend. If you’re boring, the kids will tune you out.

In a high school, you will typically teach several history classes every day and get about one hour with no classes to grade papers and read essays. You’ll also have to conduct conferences with parents on occasion.


In college, you will teach fewer history classes per day, but these classes will be longer. Colleges have a mixture of mandatory and elective history courses. Mandatory courses will have some students who are there only because they have to be, but even so, college students are generally more attentive because they are now attending school because they want to. Elective courses should have students who are taking your particular course because they are actually interested.

While the increased student interest is a refreshing change compared to the other options, it also means that you will be expected to provide a superior educational experience. If you don’t know your stuff, your students will likely catch you on it. Therefore, college is best suited to teachers who enjoy highly engaged students — and don’t mind being challenged.

What to Consider if you Become a History Teacher

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn’t break down salaries for elementary and secondary school teachers by subject, but it does list overall averages. An elementary school teacher makes a median salary of $51,380, a middle school teacher gets $51,960 per year; and a high school teacher makes a median of $53,230. A post-secondary professor makes a median of $62,050 per year.

Location can be everything when it comes to elementary through secondary education. In general, the wealthier a district’s area, the more that district can afford to pay.

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