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Quick Facts: High School Teachers
2016 Median Pay $58,030 per year
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2016 1,018,700
Job Outlook, 2016-26 8% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 76,800

What High School Teachers Do

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

Work Environment

High school teachers work in either public or private schools. They typically 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 must have 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 $58,030 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Employment of high school teachers is projected to grow 8 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Rising student enrollment should increase demand for high school teachers, but employment growth will vary by region.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for high school teachers.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of high school teachers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about high school teachers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What High School Teachers Do About this section

High school teachers
High school teachers generally specialize in a subject, such as English, math, or science.

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 in the subjects they teach, such as science or history
  • Assess students to evaluate their abilities, strengths, and weaknesses
  • Teach students in full class settings or in small groups
  • Adapt lessons to any changes in class size
  • Grade students’ assignments and exams
  • Communicate with parents about students’ progress
  • Work with individual students to challenge them, to improve their abilities, and to work on their weaknesses
  • 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 subject area, such as math, science, or history. They may teach several different classes within that subject area. For example, a high school math teacher may teach courses in algebra, calculus, and/or geometry. Others may teach the same material—for example, world history—to more than one class if the school has many students taking that subject.

High school teachers may teach students from different grades throughout the day. For example, in one class they may have students from the 9th grade, and then in the next class they may have 12th-grade students. In many schools, students are divided into classes on the basis of their abilities, so teachers need to change their courses to match the students’ abilities.

When they do not have classes, teachers plan lessons, grade assignments, and meet with other teachers and staff.

Some high school teachers instruct special classes, such as art, music, physical education or English as a second language (ESL). ESL or English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) teachers work exclusively with students who are learning the English language. These students are often referred to as English language learners (ELLs). 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. Therefore, high school teachers may 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. They may use websites to communicate with parents about students’ assignments, upcoming events, and grades. For students, teachers may create websites or discussion boards to present information and to expand a lesson taught in class.

Some high school teachers coach sports and advise student clubs and other groups, activities that frequently take place before or after school.

Work Environment About this section

High school teachers
High school teachers who specialize in science class may spend some of their day working in a lab.

High school teachers held about 1.0 million jobs in 2016. The largest employers of high school teachers were as follows:

Elementary and secondary schools; local 84%
Elementary and secondary schools; private 13

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

Watching students develop new skills and gain an appreciation for knowledge and learning can be very rewarding.

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.

Work Schedules

High school teachers generally work during school hours, which vary from school to school. However, they often spend time in the evenings and on weekends grading papers and preparing lessons. In addition, they may meet with parents, students, and other teachers before and after school. Plus, teachers who coach sports or advise clubs generally do so before or after school.

Many work the traditional 10-month school year and have a 2-month break during the summer. They also have a short midwinter break. Although most do not work during the summer, some may teach in summer programs.

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.

How to Become a High School Teacher About this section

High school teachers
High school teachers need to explain difficult concepts in terms students can understand.

High school teachers must have a bachelor’s degree. In addition, public school teachers must have a state-issued certification or license.

Education

All states require public high school teachers to have at least a bachelor’s degree. Most states require public high school teachers to have majored in a subject area, such as science or history. Teachers typically enroll in their institution’s teacher preparation program and take classes in education and child psychology as well.

In teacher education programs, prospective high school teachers learn how to present information to students and how to work with students of varying abilities and backgrounds. Programs typically include a student-teaching program, in which they work with a mentor teacher and get experience teaching students in a classroom setting. . For information about teacher preparation programs in your state, visit Teach.org.

Some states require high school teachers to earn a master’s degree after earning their teaching certification and obtaining a job.

Teachers in private schools do not need to meet state requirements. However, private schools typically seek high school teachers who have a bachelor’s degree and a major in a subject area.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

All states require teachers in public schools to be licensed or certified in the specific grade level they will teach. Those who teach in private schools typically are not required to be licensed.

High school teachers typically are awarded a secondary or high school certification, which allows them to teach the 7th through the 12th grades.

Requirements for certification or licensure vary by state but generally involve the following:

  • A bachelor’s degree with a minimum grade point average
  • Completion of a teacher preparation program and supervised experience in teaching, which is typically gained through student teaching.
  • Passing a background check
  • Passing a general teaching certification test, as well as a test that demonstrates their knowledge in the subject they will teach.

For information on certification requirements in your state, visit Teach.org.

Teachers are required to complete annual professional development classes to keep their license or certification. Some states require teachers to complete a master’s degree after receiving their certification and obtaining a job.

All states offer an alternative route to certification or licensure for people who already have a bachelor’s degree but lack the education courses required for certification. Some alternative certification programs allow candidates to begin teaching immediately under the supervision of an experienced teacher. These programs cover teaching methods and child development. After they complete the program, candidates are awarded full certification. Other programs require students to take classes in education before they can teach. Students may be awarded a master’s degree after completing either type of program.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Teachers must collaborate with other teachers and special education teachers. In addition, teachers need to discuss students’ needs with parents and administrators.

Patience. Working with students of different abilities and backgrounds can be difficult. High school teachers must be patient when students struggle with material.

Resourcefulness. High school teachers need to explain difficult concepts in terms students can understand. In addition, they must be able to engage students in learning and adapt lessons to each student’s needs.

Advancement

Experienced teachers can advance to be mentors or lead teachers. In these positions, they often work with less experienced teachers to help them improve their teaching skills.

With additional education or certification, teachers may become school counselors, school librarians, or instructional coordinators. Some become assistant principals or principals. Becoming a principal usually requires additional instruction in education administration or leadership. For more information, see the profiles on school and career counselors, librarians, instructional coordinators, and elementary, middle, and high school principals.

Pay About this section

High School Teachers

Median annual wages, May 2016

High school teachers

$58,030

Preschool, primary, secondary, and special education school teachers

$54,720

Total, all occupations

$37,040

 

The median annual wage for high school teachers was $58,030 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $38,180, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $92,920.

In May 2016, the median annual wages for high school teachers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Elementary and secondary schools; local $58,740
Elementary and secondary schools; private 51,810

High school teachers generally work school hours, which vary from school to school. However, they often spend time in the evenings and on weekends grading papers and preparing lessons. In addition, they may meet with parents, students, and other teachers before and after school. Plus, teachers who coach sports or advise clubs generally do so before or after school.

Many high school teachers work the traditional 10-month school year and have a 2-month break during the summer. They also have a short midwinter break. Although most do not teach during the summer, some may teach in summer school programs which they are paid for.

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.

Union Membership

Most high school teachers belonged to a union in 2016.

Job Outlook About this section

High School Teachers

Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26

Preschool, primary, secondary, and special education school teachers

8%

High school teachers

8%

Total, all occupations

7%

 

Employment of high school teachers is projected to grow 8 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as average for all occupations. Rising student enrollment should increase demand for high school teachers, but employment growth will vary by region.

Employment growth for public high school teachers may depend on state and local government budgets. If state and local governments experience budget deficits, school boards may lay off employees, including teachers. As a result, employment growth of high school teachers may be reduced by state and local government budget deficits. Conversely, budget surpluses at the state and local level could lead to additional employment growth for high school teachers.

Job Prospects

From 2016 to 2026, a significant number of older teachers will reach retirement age. Their retirement will create job openings for new teachers.

Many schools report that they have difficulty filling teaching positions for certain subjects, including math, science, English as a second language, and special education. As a result, teachers with education in those subjects or certifications to teach those specialties should have better job prospects. For more information about high school special education teachers, see the profile on special education teachers.

Opportunities are likely to be better in in urban and rural school districts than in suburban school districts. Flexibility in job location may increase job prospects.

Employment projections data for high school teachers, 2016-26
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Secondary school teachers, except special and career/technical education

25-2031 1,018,700 1,095,500 8 76,800 employment projections excel document xlsx

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

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 Help 2016 MEDIAN PAY Help
Career and technical education teachers

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. They teach academic and technical content to provide students with the skills and knowledge necessary to enter an occupation.

Bachelor's degree $54,020
Elementary, middle, and high school principals

Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals

Elementary, middle, and high school principals manage all school operations, including daily school activities. They coordinate curriculums, oversee teachers and other school staff, and provide a safe and productive learning environment for students.

Master's degree $92,510
Kindergarten and elementary school teachers

Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers instruct young students in basic subjects, such as math and reading, in order to prepare them for future schooling.

Bachelor's degree $55,490
Middle school teachers

Middle School Teachers

Middle school teachers educate students, typically in sixth through eighth grades. They help students build on the fundamentals they learned in elementary school and prepare them for the more difficult curriculum they will face in high school.

Bachelor's degree $56,720
Postsecondary teachers

Postsecondary Teachers

Postsecondary teachers instruct students in a wide variety of academic and technical subjects beyond the high school level. They may also conduct research and publish scholarly papers and books.

See How to Become One $75,430
Preschool teachers

Preschool Teachers

Preschool teachers educate and care for children younger than age 5 who have not yet entered kindergarten. They teach language, motor, and social skills to young children.

Associate's degree $28,790
School and Career Counselors

School and Career Counselors

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

Master's degree $54,560
Special education teachers

Special Education Teachers

Special education teachers work with students who have a wide range of learning, mental, emotional, and physical disabilities. They adapt general education lessons and teach various subjects, such as reading, writing, and math, to students with mild and moderate disabilities. They also teach basic skills, such as literacy and communication techniques, to students with severe disabilities.

Bachelor's degree $57,910
Teacher assistants

Teacher Assistants

Teacher assistants work under a teacher’s supervision to give students additional attention and instruction.

Some college, no degree $25,410
Adult literacy and GED teachers

Adult Literacy and High School Equivalency Diploma Teachers

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

Bachelor's degree $50,650
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, High School Teachers,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/high-school-teachers.htm (visited November 01, 2017).

Last Modified Date: Tuesday, October 24, 2017

What They Do

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Work Environment

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How to Become One

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Pay

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State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

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Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2016 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2016, the median annual wage for all workers was $37,040.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2016

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2016, which is the base year of the 2016-26 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2016-26

The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026. The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.

Employment Change, 2016-26

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2016-26

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2016 to 2026.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

2016 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2016, the median annual wage for all workers was $37,040.