All About Secondary Education Teacher Careers

entrance to high school building
entrance to high school building

If you’ve always known you want to become a teacher to share your knowledge, why not become a middle-, junior- or high-school teacher? Math, science, reading, English, foreign language, the arts: you name it. Secondary teachers help young adults succeed in school, work and life.

Depending on the school district you teach in, you can teach kids in grades 6 through 12, so from age 12 to 18. The age you teach depends on the group you relate to most. Some people know they want to teach younger students, while others prefer high school.

Secondary education teachers are subject-matter experts, and they have special training so they can effectively impart their knowledge to different types of learners. Whether you choose English composition and literature, math, biology, chemistry, physics, and another subject, you’ll need to adapt it to the students in each grade level.

Like teachers at other grade levels, middle- and high-school teachers follow a curriculum, develop lesson plans, teach classes in their subject matter, and correct their students’ work. They also communicate with parents, fill out report cards, and give individual students the specialized attention they need.

What You’ll Study

A bachelor’s degree in secondary education will teach you how to be a successful teacher.

First, you’ll get a deeper knowledge of your content area. State departments of education generally require that teachers be highly qualified, so this is the first step.

Then you’ll study pedagogy (the art of teaching), goal setting and student evaluation. You’ll also learn about customizing your teaching to reach all your students.

To become a high-school teacher, you’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree in secondary ed. Most people finish their bachelor’s degree in four years, but some take longer, especially if they need to work while going to school. But don’t forget the many convenient online options for getting a bachelor’s degree in secondary education.

In secondary education programs, you’ll take the same general requirements as other undergraduates, but you’ll also get special teacher training and specialize in your content area. Here are just some of the classes you’ll take:

  • Introduction to Educational Thought
  • Teaching in a Diverse Society
  • Learning Theory in Practice
  • Teaching Adolescents
  • Teaching HS English
  • Using Computers in Education
  • Classroom Management
  • Legal and Ethical Issues for Teachers

Teacher Certification for Secondary Ed Teachers

Once you complete your degree program and fulfill your student teaching requirements for the state in which you want to teach, you’ll need to think about getting your teacher certification and perhaps even an additional endorsement in the area in which you want to specialize. Common endorsements include English, social studies, science, physical education, special education, English as a Second Language, and educational administration. Endorsements typically require passing the Praxis Subject Exam, as well as other state requirements.

High School Teacher Salary Information

Amid debates on teacher pay, many teachers with a passion to change students’ lives and contribute to the education of our next generation pursue teaching careers regardless of expected compensation. Their commitment is admirable. However, you might be surprised to learn that a high school teacher salary isn’t as low as some would have you think.

Average Annual High School Teacher Salaries

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics, the median national annual salary for high school teachers is $62,360. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.

Teacher Benefits and Perks

A sometimes-forgotten component of high school teacher salaries is the great benefits that teachers get for their hard work. Public secondary school teachers enjoy some of the most comprehensive benefits packages offered today. Good health and dental insurance as well as generous pension plans supplement the above-mentioned teacher salaries to comprise an attractive overall package.

In some areas, teacher shortages have districts vying for qualified candidates. These understaffed schools have been known to offer additional perks such as subsidized housing, continuing education credit and on-site childcare.

How to Increase Teaching Salaries

Most school districts increase teaching salaries according to the number of approved continuing education credits they’ve accumulated and the number of years they’ve been teaching. Teachers with master’s degrees or national certification often have higher salaries. A charter school teacher salary will vary depending on your particular school’s charter.

Private school teachers generally earn less than public school teachers but have other benefits like smaller class size. Some teachers earn extra income teaching summer school, tutoring or performing other jobs in the school system, and many teachers earn $75,000 or more toward the end of their tenure without any supplemental income.

Whether becoming a teacher is a lifelong dream or a recent interest, researching teacher salaries can help you set accurate expectations and form attainable goals.

Teacher Salary Comparison: How Secondary Teachers Stack Up

Take a look at how secondary education teacher salaries compare to other grade levels or areas of expertise, such as educational administrator or special education teacher.

Career Median Annual Salary
Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education $62,360
Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education $61,690
Postsecondary Teachers, All Other $76,920
Special Education Teachers, All Other $63,950
Education Administrators, Kindergarten through Secondary $101,320

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics, 2022

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