How to Become a High School Teacher


If you're interested in a rewarding career that demands patience, allows you to share knowledge that you are passionate about, and allows you to play a key role in the development of teenagers, then a career as a high school teacher might be perfect for you!


Did we mention, high school teachers usually get summers off?


Below we've outlined what you'll need to succeed in this profession. We've also included helpful occupational information, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!



Education Needed to Become a High School Teacher

To become a high school teacher (also known as a "secondary school teacher")in Canada, you need four years of post-secondary education leading to a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) degree. Students enrolled in B.Ed. programs must typically choose at least two subject areas of concentration. Specific requirements may vary from province to province.


In Canada and the United States, most Bachelor of Education or Teacher Education (also known as Teacher Preparation) programs involve learning how to properly and effectively present information to students, as well as how to work with students of varying abilities. Programs typically include fieldwork, such as student teaching.


In the United States, the requirements are slightly different, and vary from state to state. All states require public high school teachers to have at least a bachelor’s degree. Many states require high school teachers to have majored in a specific area, such as biology or math. During their undergraduate years, prospective teachers enroll in their higher education’s Teacher Education program and may take classes in education and child psychology, as well.


Note: Some states, provinces or specific school boards require high school teachers to have a Master’s degree in Education in order to teach





General Job Description

High school (secondary school) teachers are responsible for teaching academic, vocational or specialized subjects, and preparing all related materials. Secondary school teachers may be employed by public or private secondary schools or school boards.



Typical Duties of the Job

• Prepare subject material for presentation according to an approved curriculum

• Use lectures, discussions, audio-visual and media presentations, laboratory studies and field studies to teach secondary students

• Assign, review and grade homework

• Evaluate the progress of students and discuss the results with school officials and parents

• Determine the individual needs of students when applicable

• Participate in staff meetings, educational conferences and teacher training workshops

• May be involved in the supervision of student teachers

• Ensure students are behaving in a manner that is consistent with the school's code of conduct



Personal Characteristics Needed to Be Successful

If you’ve been given the opportunity to work as a high school teacher, you are not necessarily guaranteed success in your career. The most important factor in whether or not you will be successful is your attitude and personality. Below are some characteristics of successful high school teachers.


• Must enjoy working around teenage students

• Must have disciplinary abilities

• Must have exceptional organizational skills

• Must be punctual

• Must have enthusiasm and knowledge in chosen area of instruction

• Must be willing to work outside of normal working hours

• Must be responsible and trustworthy

• Must have an appreciation or tolerance of different cultures

• Must be patient when dealing with students with different abilities

• Must be able to communicate instructions clearly



Salary Level

There are many factors that can impact the salary level and benefits package of high school teachers, including their level of experience, their level of education, the school board that employs them and many others. In fact, many provinces and states pay high school teachers according to a grid system based on their number of years of university and their number of years of teaching experience.


High School Teacher Salary - United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary of High School Teachers is $53,230 (2010 figures).


Salary - Canada: According to the 2016 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey (the latest figures available at the time of writing - September 21, 2019), Albertans in the Secondary School Teachers occupational group earn an average annual salary of $73,966. Meanwhile in B.C., WorkBC states that the annual provincial median salary of high school teachers in that province is $74,277. Unfortunately, no similar statistics were available from reliable sources for other Canadian provinces or territories at the time of writing.





Career Advancement Opportunities

As high school teachers accumulate more experience, education and training they may be eligible to move into certain opportunities as they become available, including:


• Department head within the school, or with an external school

• School administrator, such as principal

• Member of the school board

• Educational consultant for the school board

• Coordinator of a particular subject area in a large school or school system



Typical Working Conditions

Work Setting: High school teachers typically work in a public school or private school setting. Some may teach in religious schools, while others may teach in secular schools. The size of school they teach within and the size of their classes can vary greatly depending on the school district, enrollment of the school and other factors.


Some high school teachers may work on a part-time or substitute basis, a short-term contract basis, or a permanent full-time basis. The employment status of a high school teacher can vary depending on their level of experience, their career ambitions (as some may choose to remain part-time or substitute teachers) as well as the availability of employment opportunities. Typically, the more experienced and educated a high school teacher is, the more likely they are to be hired for the position of their choice.


Work Environment: The job of a high school teacher is one that can be very rewarding; as they can play a key part of a student’s intellectual, personal and academic development. On the other hand, high school teachers can experience high amounts of stress at times, as they must cope with and discipline unmotivated and disrespectful students, as well as their parents.


High school teachers may also experience great amounts of frustration, as they may operate within a school or a school district that lacks crucial supplies and learning tools, such as computers and up-to-date textbooks.


Work Schedule: High school teachers generally work normal school hours. However, they often spend time in the evenings and on the weekends grading assignments and preparing lesson plans. Teachers must also meet with other teachers, school administrators, parents and students on occasion, meetings that typically take place in the mornings before school or in the evenings. Some teachers may be involved in coaching sports teams or acting as an advisor or a supervisor for school clubs, which typically involves spending time at the school outside of normal hours.


Many high school teachers work during the 10-month school year and are afforded a 2-month break during the summer, although some high school teachers may also be involved with teaching programs during the summer months. Teachers also typically have breaks during the winter and springtime as high schools normally take breaks during these times.



Who Employs Them?

High school teachers are typically employed by the following organizations:


• Private secondary schools

• Public secondary schools

• Vocational schools

• Hospitals



Job Board

Our job board below has "High School Teacher" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.




Similar Careers in Our Database

Listed below are jobs that are similar in nature to "high school teacher", as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.



Special Education Needs Teacher

University Professor

Early Childhood Educator

Elementary School Teacher




Please use the references below to find more information on the various aspects of this profession.


Occupations in Alberta:Secondary School Teacher.” (February 1, 2012). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved December 20, 2019.

Education, Training, and Library:High School Teachers.” (December 5, 2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved December 20, 2019.

Explore Careers:Secondary school teachers.” (January 24, 2018). WorkBC website. Retrieved December 20, 2019.



Scholarships for Becoming a High School Teacher

Scholarships in our system are organized by field of study. The fields that are relevant to this profession are listed below on our "Relevant Fields of Study" section below. Any scholarships found within those fields will be suitable, all of which can be found on our Scholarships page.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Relevant Fields of Study

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point for setting the educational foundation needed for this career. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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High School Teacher