The History of a History Teacher
Teaching history is a great fit as a career in education for anyone who has a passion for history, and who retains and enjoys historic dates, facts and trivia. Why teach history? You can inspire students to see how the past affects the present and the future, and you can make the events of the past come alive for hungry young minds.
History teachers usually first get an education degree and then work in a middle school, high school or college. Depending on your role, you may teach a general overview of major dates and events, or you may focus on one particular area, like American history, ancient history or current events. The learning environment you’ll develop usually includes textbooks and slides, and may also use outside resources such as videos and interactive media as well as field trips (visits to museums or battle areas, etc), and even bringing speakers into the classroom. Typical duties for a history teacher includes preparing lesson plans, lecturing to the class, presenting additional supporting materials, grading homework and tests, facilitating group discussions, and meeting as needed with students and parents. But the classroom is not the only place you may find work – many museums, historical societies and other cultural institutions employ history specialists with teacher training to run seminars, give lectures, and work with visiting groups. Because history is considered a cornerstone focus in schools, teaching history is considered one of the most secure positions for an educator. As of 2009, according to Salary.com, full-time college-level history professors earned an average annual salary of just over $80,00, while high school history teachers reported an annual salary, on average, of more than $52,00. The educators with a master of education degree reported a higher salary level than those with a bachelor’s degree.
To be a successful history teacher, you’ll need a bachelor's degree in education, preferably with a focus on history or social studies. You will also need teacher training and you may also need to complete other history courses to meet your state's teaching requirements. Check with your state’s Department of Education for additional requirements. Once you start teaching, be aware that you will need to meet continuing education credit requirements on a yearly basis to retain your teaching certification.
If you currently have a bachelor's degree and are just now considering a teaching career in middle school or high school, look for a teaching program, preferably as part of a master’s degree in education. If you want to teach history at the college level, you will need a doctorate in addition to the master's degree.
A history teacher has the opportunity to bring the past alive for students, to show them the patterns and behaviors that repeat throughout the history of civilization -- examining the past allows us all to better understand current events. You’ll also be instrumental in helping your students develop everything from reading comprehension to analytical thinking and a love of learning.