High School Teachers

by Kate Williams

What High School Teachers Do

High school teachers teach academic lessons and various skills that students will need to attend college and to enter the job market.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSeStFsCZrQ

Work Environment

High school teachers work in schools. They work during school hours but may also work evenings and weekends to prepare lessons and grade papers. Most do not teach during the summer.

How to Become a High School Teacher

High school teachers typically have at least a bachelor’s degree. In addition, public school teachers must have a state-issued certification or license, which may require an academic background in the subject(s) they will be certified to teach.

Pay

The median annual wage for high school teachers was $61,660 in May 2019.

Job Outlook

Employment of high school teachers is projected to grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Rising student enrollment should increase demand for high school teachers.

High school teachers help prepare students for life after graduation. They teach academic lessons and various skills that students will need to attend college or to enter the job market.

Duties

High school teachers typically do the following:

  • Plan lessons and instruct their students in the subject they teach
  • Assess students’ abilities, strengths, and weaknesses
  • Adapt lessons to changes in class size
  • Grade students’ assignments and exams
  • Communicate with parents about students’ progress
  • Work with individual students to challenge them and to improve their abilities
  • Prepare students for standardized tests required by the state
  • Develop and enforce classroom rules and administrative policies
  • Supervise students outside of the classroom—for example, during lunchtime or detention

High school teachers generally teach students from the 9th through 12th grades. They usually specialize in one area. Some teach core subjects, such as math, science, or history. Others specialize in elective courses, such as art, music, or physical education. They may teach several different classes within their subject area. For example, a high school math teacher may teach algebra, calculus, and/or geometry.

High school teachers may instruct students from different grades throughout the day. For example, one class may have mostly students from the 9th grade, and another may have 12th-grade students. In many schools, students are divided into classes on the basis of their abilities, so teachers need to adapt their lessons based on students’ skills.

Outside of their instructional time, teachers plan lessons, grade assignments, and meet with other teachers and staff.

Teachers of English as a second language (ESL) or English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) work exclusively with students who are learning the English language. These teachers work with students individually or in groups to help them improve their English language skills and help them with assignments for other classes.

Students with learning disabilities and emotional or behavioral disorders are often taught in traditional classes. High school teachers work with special education teachers to adapt lessons to these students’ needs and to monitor the students’ progress.

Teachers must be comfortable with using and learning new technology. With parents, they may use text-messaging applications to communicate about students’ assignments and upcoming events. With students, teachers may create websites or discussion boards to present information and to expand a lesson taught in class.

Some high school teachers take on additional responsibilities, such as coaching sports or advising academic clubs, activities that frequently take place before or after school.

High school teachers held about 1.1 million jobs in 2019. The largest employers of high school teachers were as follows:

Elementary and secondary schools; local 83%
Elementary and secondary schools; private 15

Most states have tenure laws, which provide job security after a certain number of years of satisfactory classroom teaching.

Teachers may find it rewarding to watch students develop new skills and gain an appreciation for knowledge.

However, teaching may be stressful. Some schools have large classes and lack important teaching tools, such as current technology and up-to-date textbooks. Occasionally, teachers must cope with unmotivated or disrespectful students. Some states are developing teacher mentoring programs and teacher development courses to help with the challenges of being a teacher.

Work Schedules

High school teachers generally work during school hours when students are present. They may meet with parents, students, and other teachers before and after school. They often spend time in the evenings and on weekends grading papers and preparing lessons. Teachers who coach sports or advise clubs generally do so before or after school.

Many teachers work a traditional 10-month school year and have a 2-month break during the summer. They also have a short midwinter break. Some teachers work during the summer.

Teachers in districts with a year-round schedule typically work 9 weeks in a row and then have a break for 3 weeks before starting a new school session.

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of high school teachers.

Occupation Job Duties Entry-Level Education Median Annual Pay, May 2019

Career and Technical Education Teachers

Career and technical education teachers instruct students in various technical and vocational subjects, such as auto repair, healthcare, and culinary arts.

Bachelor’s degree $58,110

Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals

Elementary, middle, and high school principals oversee all school operations, including daily school activities.

Master’s degree $96,400

Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers instruct young students in basic subjects in order to prepare them for future schooling.

Bachelor’s degree $59,420

Middle School Teachers

Middle school teachers educate students, typically in sixth through eighth grades.

Bachelor’s degree $59,660

Postsecondary Teachers

Postsecondary teachers instruct students in a wide variety of academic and technical subjects beyond the high school level.

See How to Become One $79,540

Preschool Teachers

Preschool teachers educate and care for children younger than age 5 who have not yet entered kindergarten.

Associate’s degree $30,520

School and Career Counselors

School counselors help students develop the academic and social skills needed to succeed. Career counselors help people choose a path to employment.

Master’s degree $57,040

Special education teachers

Special Education Teachers

Special education teachers work with students who have a wide range of learning, mental, emotional, and physical disabilities.

Bachelor’s degree $61,030

Teacher Assistants

Teacher assistants work with a licensed teacher to give students additional attention and instruction.

Some college, no degree $27,920

Adult Literacy and High School Equivalency Diploma Teachers

Adult literacy and high school equivalency diploma teachers instruct adults in basic skills, such as reading and speaking English. They also help students earn their high school equivalent diploma.

Bachelor’s degree $54,350

For more information about teaching and becoming a teacher, visit

Teach.org

American Federation of Teachers

National Education Association

For more information about teacher preparation programs, visit

Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation

O*NET

Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education


Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, High School Teachers,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/high-school-teachers.htm (visited ).


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