How to Become a High School Teacher

A high school teacher teaching chemistry to her students

High school teachers help students prepare for life after graduation, generally specializing in a specific academic or arts area. They use their training to support students, helping them acquire the knowledge and skills they’ll need to become college or career ready. People who are interested in a rewarding career working with students in ninth through twelfth grades can earn a teaching degree as their first step towards making a difference in the lives of students.

Most states require that secondary school teachers have at least a bachelor's degree. In addition, teachers in public schools must earn a teaching certification. This ensures that they have been properly trained in their college coursework.

What Is a Teaching Degree?

A teaching degree enables graduates to be qualified to teach. In addition to a degree in education, some states require that candidates successfully pass teacher certification exams in order to obtain a teaching license or certificate. From there, they can become classroom teachers in public schools. High school teachers who wish to work in private or non-traditional schools may only be required to earn a teaching degree. Teaching degree programs help teacher candidates learn about how to engage a diverse group of students in acquiring the knowledge and skills necessary to meet and exceed the academic standards. Most teaching degree programs also include a student teaching component where teacher candidates implement their skills under the supervision of a mentor classroom teacher.

What is a Teaching Certificate?

In order to earn a teaching certificate, graduates need to have completed their bachelor's degree and completed a teacher training program. Additionally, they need to pass a background check and possibly additional tests that show their subject matter competency. To retain their teaching certificate, classroom teachers are required to participate in professional development each year.

Can I Become a Teacher Without a Teaching Degree?

Most states offer alternative routes to teacher licensure or certification. Those who pursue alternative certification generally have a bachelor's degree in a field other than teaching or education but may lack some of the education and pedagogy requirements of a traditional teaching certificate. These alternative programs allow teachers to get into the classroom immediately while simultaneously taking classes in education and earning their teaching degrees.

What Does it Take to Become a High School Teacher?

In addition to having a strong desire to mentoring youth and a passion for teaching a subject matter, secondary school teachers must be patient. They will work with students who may be experiencing the challenges that adolescents face in their journey to adulthood. High school teachers must remain calm in difficult situations, and they should be able to help any struggling students. Teachers in high schools should also have excellent communication skills. Not only will they be communicating their knowledge and expertise about the subject matter that they teach in an engaging and relevant manner, they will also be interacting with other teachers and administrators as well as families.

If you are ready to take on the challenging and exciting role as a high school teacher, join us at Grand Canyon University. Our esteemed College of Education offers numerous degrees in secondary education, including programs in history, English and biology.

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