Becoming a Secondary School Educator

Secondary School Educator

Responsibilities of Secondary School Teacher

As a secondary school or high school teacher, you could make a difference in a teenager's life. You could open students' eyes to a favorite discipline and help them to succeed both personally and professionally. However, being a secondary teacher requires lots of energy and brainpower, as these educators typically plan and teach multiple subjects, making sure you pique student interest by addressing the way each learns. It also demands the right temperament as you'd need to ensure the smooth development of classes through the use of psychology and discipline, as well as to successfully evaluate and communicate progress to students and parents verbally and online. As part of being a secondary teacher, you may also need to supervise lunchtime or detention, or organize school activities.

How You Could Become a Secondary School Teacher

It's important to look into statewide requirements for secondary school teaching. Most often, teachers need a bachelor's degree in the subject they intend to teach (or a related area) as well as teaching experience to work in either private or public schools. While attending school, you could major in your subject of interest, take education and psychology courses, and gain teacher instruction through a teacher preparation program. Public schools would also require a state license and in some states, a master's degree, after initially obtaining your license. You might be able to find work as a secondary teacher at a private school without the state license.

Certification varies by state but generally would require you to possess a bachelor's degree, including teacher preparation and teaching experience, and passing state certification and subject area tests. A minimum grade point average, professional development, and a background check may also be required. If you have a bachelor's degree, but lack education courses, you may be able to engage in an alternative certification program to obtain your license. You should check the requirements in the states you might want to teach in so you are not caught off-guard by a requirement you weren't aware of.

Career Earnings

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (, 2012), the median annual wage of a secondary school teacher stood at $53,230 as of May 2010. The top 10 percent earned a secondary teacher salary of more than $83,230 while the bottom 10 percent made less than $35,020. The BLS reported the highest secondary teacher salary in the state of New York where the annual mean wage of a secondary school teacher stood at $74,130 as of May 2012.

Employment of secondary school teachers is expected to grow 7 percent between 2010 and 2020, according to the BLS, due to a decline in the student-to-teacher ratios and an increase in enrollment. The BLS expects more secondary teacher job growth in the South and the West than in the Midwest and the Northeast, as well as in urban and rural school districts, rather than in suburban school districts. The retirement of a significant number of older teachers could also translate into new job openings. Secondary teacher job prospects reportedly would be better for teachers with backgrounds in areas that may be difficult to fill, including math, chemistry, physics, English as a second language, and special education. For more information on secondary education teacher programs, check out the list of schools below.


  1. High School Teachers, Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-2013 Edition),
  2. Secondary School Teachers, Occupational Employment and Wages (May 2012),

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