Learn How to Become a History Teacher

History in the making: discover the joys of teaching history whatever time period you specialize in.

What Does a History Teacher Do?

history teacher with students

History teachers usually teach at middle school, high school and college levels. Although classroom curricula vary depending on the level and course you're teaching, you'll have plenty of opportunities to share your knowledge of past and current events, and your passion for learning.

Like any other teacher, a history teacher creates a fun learning environment using textbooks and outside resources, including primary and secondary materials, and relevant interactive media.

Other typical duties may include the following:

  • Preparing lesson plans, and grading homework, tests and essays
  • Compiling notes and delivering engaging, coherent lectures
  • Accumulating specialized materials for outside reading and homework
  • Coaching teens and young adults individually and in group settings
  • Studying and utilizing the most appropriate learning strategies
  • Engaging the class in stimulating discussions
  • Conducting research and publishing your findings

Depending on your institution's curriculum and the age of your students, you may end up teaching history as well as social studies courses.

Where Can I Expect to Work?

Although teaching history is a competitive field and may require a nationwide job search to find employment, giving yourself the flexibility to teach social sciences alongside history will greatly improve your chances of finding employment. As a history teacher, you may find yourself in one of these settings:

  • secondary schools, such as middle and high schools
  • colleges and universities
  • historical societies and museums

What Kind of Training Do I Need?

To become a high school history teacher, you'll need a bachelor's degree in education along with a major or minor in history or social science. If you already have a bachelor's degree without an emphasis in history, you will most likely need to take additional history and teacher-training courses to meet your state's teaching requirements.

Some states require all teachers to earn a master's degree. Check with the Department of Education in your state for requirements in your area.

To teach history at the community college level, you will need a minimum of a master's degree, but if you are interested in teaching at a university, you'll need a PhD or EdD in order to be considered.

Are There Certification Requirements?

Although each state has its own teacher certification guidelines, teaching history in middle or high school always begins with a four-year degree. If you already hold a bachelor's degree but lack the history and/or teaching credentials, you can earn a fifth year master's degree in one year or simply complete state requirements at a local college or university. Some states require completion of continuing education courses to stay certified. These course requirements differ from state to state. However, continuing education is a great way to improve your skills, maintain certification and increase your salary.

"Not Just the Facts, Ma'am"

  • As a classroom teacher, you will cover U.S. history, world history, civics, geography, social studies, and possibly economics. Many of these topics are ripe for discussion and perhaps even debate, especially if the curriculum ties in with current events.
  • As a history teacher, you have a rare opportunity to encourage your students to think independently about the world in which they live and make a difference that lasts well into the next generation.