High School Psychology Teacher: Requirements, Job Duties and Salary Info

To teach high school psychology, one must go through the steps to become a certified teacher, which typically includes earning a bachelor's degree in teacher education or the subject one desires to teach. Although some certified school psychologists teach high school psychology courses, it's not necessary to be a licensed psychologist to teach psychology in a secondary school.

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Education, Training and License Requirements

Each state has different requirements regarding necessary education. Most high schools will require a bachelor's degree from a teacher education program, plus certified teaching credentials. The American Psychological Association (APA) states that inquiry with a specific state's board of education will reveal the steps involved in becoming certified. It's likely that a certification in social studies, including psychology, will be needed (www.apa.org).

During a typical undergraduate teacher education program, a student will participate in a student teaching internship. The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council accredit all teacher education programs. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that it's not necessary to graduate from an accredited program, but it will likely make it easier to fulfill licensing requirements. It also notes that every state requires licensure for all public school teachers; however, private school teachers do not need to be licensed (www.bls.gov).

Again, each state has different requirements for licensure and certification. It's necessary to check the state's specific requirements and plan accordingly. State licensure requirements can be found on the American Federation of Teachers website (www.aft.org), as well as on the Department of Education websites for individual states. Overall, teaching certification usually requires a bachelor's degree, student teaching experience and completion of a teacher-training program.

Job Duties

The job duties of a high school psychology teacher mainly involve presenting a broad and comprehensive curriculum for the field of psychology. The APA's National Standards for High School Psychology Curricula include many areas of psychology. Examples are research methods and the biopsychological, developmental, cognitive, individual and group behavior domains.

High school teachers spend a lot of time in other areas outside of classroom teaching. A high school psychology teacher will be involved in working in school committees, extracurricular activities and lesson preparation. Communication abilities, confidence and understanding the emotional and educational needs of the students are also important.

Teaching at a high school level is an involved job that requires patience, motivation and an enthusiasm for educating. It is likely that, depending on the demand for particular courses, someone interested in teaching psychology may have to teach other subjects if needed.

Salary Information

The salary of a high school teacher depends on the state. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in May 2012, the annual mean wage for secondary school teachers was $57,770 (www.bls.gov). Wages also tend to be higher in large metropolitan areas.

Most public school teachers belong to unions, such as the American Federation of Teachers. Unions serve to negotiate salaries, working conditions and hours with school districts.

Starting pay for beginning teachers tends to be low, but there are many ways teachers can increase their salaries. Work in extracurricular activities and teaching summer courses may all boost a teacher's salary, according to the BLS. Mentoring students, earning a master's degree or gaining national certification may also boost wages.

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