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History Teacher Career Outlook & Job Description

A history teacher leads students in the study of past events in the United States or around the world. They generally teach students at the middle school, high school or postsecondary level. History curriculum can cover a wide range of topics, from recent events to ancient history. The standard history teacher job description requires that educators encourage students to look at multiple viewpoints, become informed citizens and make valid arguments by providing stimulating discussion, readings, and projects. History teachers often help students process and comprehend the significance of difficult social and political issues.

History Teacher Requirements, Training and Common Tasks

To be hired as a history teacher, an applicant needs a degree in history education and must meet state requirements for teaching history. Many states require that teachers pass a competency test, such as the PRAXIS II, in their subject area. Often states expect teachers to have a supervised period of student teaching for full certification. Many states now allow alternate routes to becoming a certified teacher. Once an applicant is qualified for and has accepted a job, history teachers are expected to be flexible enough to teach classes across the spectrum of social sciences, from American History to Economics. Teachers design and grade tests and interactive projects, deliver lectures, interact with students and parents and stay abreast of relevant current events. Teachers also work with special education teachers to modify curriculum for students who have learning difficulties. Further, most teachers contribute to the extracurricular activities of the school, and history teachers are often asked to work with debate teams or other clubs because of their current events expertise.

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History Teacher Salary and Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the education field is growing at about 13% a year, mostly due to teacher retirement. A new history teacher can expect to start at around $33,000 a year. However, a history teacher salary varies widely depending on location and qualifications. Further, most history teacher jobs are available in urban areas, where student to teacher ratios are high and turnover is frequent. While private schools offer employment at lower pay and benefit rates, they usually offer easier working conditions. While the pay is less than many other professions, the job workload is tempered by a ten month teaching schedule with generous breaks.

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How to Become a History Teacher

In order to become a history teacher, students have several options to choose from based on their educational background. For students fresh out of high school or those returning to college, it is a must to choose a university that has a respected teaching program. History education students can expect to finish their degree and receive certification in four or five years.

Prospective history teachers can expect to take two years of general education classes, which vary from school to school. After those two years, each student must be accepted into the education department at their college. The student will major in history, which will require at least 24 credit hours in that field. There is also a practicum and student teaching requirement for each student. They will also have to pass state mandated testing in order to complete this program. If a student desires to pursue a middle school endorsement, the required classes (usually two or three) will need to be successfully completed. After prospective teachers graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in history or social sciences, entitlement documentation will be sent to the state to issue a certificate.

If the student already holds a Bachelor’s degree (in any field), an application must be made for graduate school at the university of his or her choice. From that point, a full time student can expect to earn a Masters degree and teacher certification in approximately two or three years. The coursework is dependent on the educational history of the student. If the student has a Bachelor’s degree in history, a regimen of education courses for certification and graduation requirements must be completed successfully. If the student’s background is not in history, enough courses in history will have to be completed in order to constitute a history major (usually around 24 credit hours). Practicum hours and student teaching are a requirement for either situation, and additional state testing is required. A student can also elect to take the required middle school classes for middle school certification.

History Education and Teaching Degrees and Programs

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