How to Become a History Teacher

how to become a history teacher

Many people are interested in becoming a History teachers but feel overwhelmed by the process. Want to become a History teacher but need help figuring out where to begin? You’ve come to the right place! In this article, we’ll go over what History teachers do, how to become a certified History teacher and common career paths for History teachers. We’ll also discuss other topics, such as History teachers’ salaries and the skills and traits needed to be an effective History teacher.

Teaching History can be a fulfilling and long-lasting career. Teachers across all subjects are in high demand right now, so if you’ve been thinking about a career as a History teacher, now is the perfect time!

What is a History teacher?

A history teacher teaches a variety of Historical topics and historical events to lead students to become more informed citizens. History teachers can work in public, private, charter, or specialized schools such as liberal arts academies.

Types of History Teachers

History teachers typically work at the middle or high school level. They usually teach courses focusing on a certain time period or geographic location, such as U.S. History or World History. High school History teachers may also teach advanced placement or dual credit History classes.

What does a History teacher do?

History teachers use state standards to plan and teach engaging, effective, and developmentally appropriate lessons. They also use assessment strategies to monitor their students’ progress. A History teacher’s job description also involves following state and federal educational policies, such as providing accommodations or modifications for students with disabilities.

How to Become a History Teacher

Becoming a history teacher involves a similar process across most states. This typically includes earning a bachelor’s degree, completing a teacher preparation program, and taking required certification exams.

Earn a bachelor’s degree, preferably in History, Education, or a History-related field.

Earning a bachelor’s degree is the first step in becoming a certified teacher. Many History teachers major in History or another social science field, such as Government or Sociology. Others choose to major in Education with a minor in History. The courses cover different periods, cultures, locations, skills, and theories.

Complete an approved educator preparation program.

An educator preparation program includes education courses and field experience in the classroom (often referred to as student teaching). If you’re still in college, check with your academic advisor for information on educator preparation programs; many colleges have programs that can be completed while you work towards your degree. If you already have a bachelor’s degree, you must complete an educator preparation program for alternative certification. Wanting to teach in Texas? 240 Certification has an affordable, state-approved alternative certification program that can be completed in 12-18 months!!

Pass your state’s required testing and credentials

To become a certified History teacher, you must take at least two certification exams: one for teaching practices and one specific to History or Social Studies. Depending on your state, you may also need to take additional tests, such as a General Knowledge exam.

Different states use different certification exams. Many states use Praxis or NES exams. Other states like Texas and Florida use their exams like the TExES or FTCE. Worried about whether or not you’ll be able to pass your exams? Teacher certification exams can be surprisingly difficult, even for History students. Still, study guides and practice tests can help you become familiar with the exam format, content, and style of questions. 240 Tutoring has study guides, free practice tests, and exam overviews for several History and Social Studies exams, including:

TExES Social Studies 7-12 (232)

TExES History 7-12 (233)

TExES Social Studies 4-8 (118)

FTCE Middle Grades Social Science 5-9 (038) 

FTCE Social Science 6-12 (037)

GACE Middle Grades Social Science (015)

NES History (302)

NES Social Science (303)

Praxis Social Studies: Content Knowledge (5081)

Praxis World and U.S. History: Content Knowledge (5941)

And many more!

After passing your certification tests, you’ll need to apply for certification in your state. This usually involves a fee, paperwork, and a background check. For additional information on certification applications, check your state’s Department of Education website.

Apply for a History teaching position.

Once you have completed your teacher preparation program and passed your certification exams, it’s time to apply for jobs! One of the best ways to find up-to-date job openings is by looking on school districts’ employment websites, but you can also find job listings on sites such as Indeed, SchoolSpring, or ZipRecruiter.

In some states or districts, you may be able to apply for jobs and start teaching while you work towards your certification. In these cases, you will be hired under a probationary contract and have a specified time to pass your certification exam. Remember, however, that you’ll still need a bachelor’s degree in these cases.

Tip: Try working as a substitute teacher while you work towards your degree or certification. This will give you valuable experience, and administrators are often more likely to hire someone they’ve already become familiar with. 

Helpful Skills for History Teachers

Effective History teachers possess many of the following skills and traits:

  • Strong Communication Skills – Successful History teachers know how to communicate effectively with students and other teachers, administrators, and parents.
  • Innovation Skills – The most effective teachers always look for new ways to make their lessons more engaging and effective. History teachers should strive to plan creative and innovative lessons that spark an interest in History in their students.
  • Patience – Patience is a crucial trait for teachers of any subject or grade level. Working with children or young adults can be challenging at times, but with patience and understanding, it is an incredibly rewarding career.
  • Organization – History teachers typically see many students daily. At the middle and high school levels, you will have several different class periods and may even teach two or three different courses. Organization skills are key for lesson planning and keeping records of each student’s progress.
  • Collaboration – History teachers collaborate with other teachers in their department to plan lessons and monitor overall student progress. Some History teachers may even collaborate with teachers of other subjects to plan interdisciplinary units or projects. Be prepared to work with your fellow teachers for the benefit of all students.

Common career paths for History Teachers

Many History teachers work as classroom teachers throughout their careers, although they may move to different schools or grade levels. Other History teachers go on to become department leads or even History curriculum writers. Curriculum writers may work within a school district or for outside curriculum companies.

Some teachers may move into school administration roles such as counselors, assistant principals, or principals. These roles will require a Master’s degree and additional certifications. Others may even choose to teach at the college level, which typically requires a master’s degree or even a Ph.D.

History teacher salary and job outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the median salary for teachers is $61,350 at the elementary level and $61,820 per year at the high school level. However, this will vary greatly by different states and areas within each state. For example, History teachers in New York, New Jersey, or Pennsylvania metropolitan areas can make nearly $95,000 annually. In contrast, History teachers in nonmetropolitan areas of Missouri will have an average salary closer to $44,000.

Regardless of your location, the job outlook for history teachers is promising. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics predicts that from 2021 to 2031, elementary and high school teacher positions (including History positions) will increase by 4% and 5%, respectively.

History teacher FAQs

How long does it take to become a History teacher?

This will vary based on where you’re currently at in your career.

  • If you are just starting college, you must earn a bachelor’s degree, complete an educator preparation program, and take certification exams. From the start of college to passing your certification exams, this will usually take about 4 – 6 years, depending on how quickly you earn your bachelor’s degree. Many colleges include an educator preparation program and student teaching internship with your degree plan.
  • If you already hold a bachelor’s degree and work in another field, you must complete an alternative certification program and pass your certification exams. Most alternative certification programs take about six months to two years to complete. Planning to teach in Texas? 240 Certification has an affordable, state-approved alternative certification program that can be completed in about 12-18 months!
  • If you already teach another subject, you will likely need to register and take the necessary History certification exam. This can be done relatively quickly if you are adequately prepared for the exam. Passing the required exam(s) will qualify you as a certified History teacher, but remember that many schools may prefer candidates with a History background or History degree.

What is the salary range for History teachers?

The salary range for History teachers varies greatly based on your location and years of experience. Teacher salaries can range from $33,000 to over $100,000! The good news is that school districts often publish their teacher pay scales on their website, making it easy for you to see whether or not a job will meet your income requirements. Generally speaking, you can expect a higher salary in states with a higher cost of living or in larger metropolitan areas.

Teachers’ salaries are typically based on years of teaching experience, so your salary usually increases yearly. If you’ve taught in the past, this should count toward your years of experience.

Can I teach History without a History degree?

Yes! Many History teachers have degrees other than History. Many History teachers have degrees in a social science field, such as Economics, Anthropology, or Political Science. Other History teachers, particularly those who become teachers later in their careers, may have different degrees. The most important thing is that you have a bachelor’s degree and are certified to teach History in your state. While a History degree will undoubtedly help prepare for your career and certification exam, it is not a requirement in most school districts.

Are there benefits to earning a master’s degree?

Under some circumstances, having a master’s degree may be beneficial. Some schools may prefer that their teachers have master’s degrees, and most school districts have a slightly higher salary for teachers with master’s degrees.

Another reason to get a master’s degree is if you would like to move into other educational roles, such as a curriculum writer. If this is the case, you may want to consider a master’s degree in an area outside of History, such as a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction.

However, remember that a master’s degree may not always be worth the additional cost and years of school. While it’s true that salaries are higher for those with master’s degrees, it is usually only a small difference. If you plan on being a classroom teacher for several years instead of moving into a new role, it may be best to hold off on a master’s degree.

What certification do I need to become a History teacher?

The certification requirements for History teachers vary by state but typically require a general teaching certification plus a History certification. The History exam you take may vary based on the grade level and topics you plan to teach.  For example, in Texas, you must take the TExES Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities EC-12 and either the TExES History 7-12, the TExES Social Studies 7-12, or the TExES Social Studies 4-8.

Your college or alternative certification program will be able to direct you to the exams you need in your state. You can also check our free test series resources for articles on common teacher exams and free practice tests. 

What other certifications can I get to advance my career?

Some schools or districts prefer that their teachers have additional certifications, such as Special Education or Foundations of Reading.

If you want to move into an administrative role later in your career, you’ll likely need to earn a Master’s degree and take additional exams such as the TExES Principal as Instructional Leader.

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