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History Teachers: Job Description, Salary Info, and Requirements

History teachers guide students through the study of events in the distant and near past. Teaching at the middle school and high school level requires at least a bachelor's degree and teaching certificate. Postsecondary teachers need a master's or doctoral degree.

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History Teacher Job Description

A history teacher's primary duty is to impart factual knowledge and a conceptual understanding of historical events to a class of students. History teachers may follow a state or district curriculum but usually create their own lesson plans, assignments and exams.

They use readings, assignments, tests, classroom lectures and intra-class debates and re-enactments to teach historical concepts and events. They may use visual aids and documentaries as supporting materials.

In addition to leading classes, teachers attend to a number of administrative tasks. These tasks include grading tests and essays, assigning overall grades and meeting with the parents to discuss student performance. They also meet with school administrators to discuss their own performance, issues affecting their working environment and the implementation of new teaching methods.

History teachers usually work in middle schools, high schools or post-secondary institutions. Middle and high school history teachers teach about multiple time periods.

Postsecondary instructors often specialize in a specific era. At the postsecondary level, history teachers are usually called professors. They lecture, lead seminars and mentor graduate students.

Salary Information

According to PayScale.com, postsecondary history teachers with 1-4 years of experience earned $30,521 in 2010. Middle school teachers in general earned $37,605, and high school teachers earned $38,021. Public school teachers usually work on a salary ladder and earn more each year.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) projects 15% job growth among postsecondary teachers for the years from 2008-2018. This growth will be driven by increased college enrollment and retirements in the industry. The BLS projects 13% growth in middle school and secondary school teaching positions over the same time period. Although job growth is strong, more openings may be in high-need areas like math, science and special education.

Training Requirements

Teachers need to earn at least a bachelor's degree in education to teach history in middle school or high school. They are encouraged to double major or minor in history, or complete an education degree that offers history as a concentration.

Those who plan to teach in a public school need to be licensed. In order to become licensed, education students complete student teaching, pass state certification exams and apply for a teaching license from the state board of education. Private schools may be exempt from licensing requirements but may give preference to applicants with teaching experience.

Postsecondary history teachers usually hold a doctoral degree in history. They specialize in a specific area and have completed original research in their field. Master's degree holders may be hired by community colleges. Most postsecondary history instructors don't have formal training in education.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics