How to Become a High School Social Studies Teacher

Four Parts:Meeting the Minimum RequirementsGoing Through the Certification ProcessFinding and Obtaining EmploymentLearning More About Being a Social Studies Teacher

Becoming a high school social studies teacher can be a highly rewarding career choice. You'll work directly with your students to inform them about things like geography, history, government and current events.[1] Knowing what to expect from the position and how to obtain it, can help you become a successful high school social studies teacher.

Part 1
Meeting the Minimum Requirements

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    Obtain your bachelor's degree in education. All schools will require you to obtain at least your bachelor's degree in education. This degree will be proof that you are capable of delivering information to students using the current educational best practices. Make sure you've fully completed all of your course work and obtained your bachelor's degree before you seek certification or employment.[2][3]
    • Your electives should be based in social studies courses. These courses might include classes like history or sociology.
    • Talk with your advisor to see if you can make social studies courses your major or minor and still obtain your bachelor's degree in education.
    • You may be able to add an additional fifth year of educational studies if your bachelor's degree was completed in history or sociology.
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    Complete your period of student teaching. Many states and colleges will require that you undergo a period of student teaching. Student teaching will allow you to have practical experience in creating lesson plans and teaching a class. You will work with a veteran teacher and be able to learn from their professional experience. Check that you've met your student teaching requirements before applying for certification in your state.[4]
    • Your college may be able to place you at a school where you can begin your time as a student teacher.
    • Student teaching is unpaid.
    • You'll likely be a student teacher for an entire semester.
    • Learn from your time as a student teacher. Don't be afraid to make changes to things that aren't working.
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    Decide if you want to work in a public or private school. Public and private schools will have their own unique requirements for social studies teachers. While almost every state run school will require you to become certified to teach in that state, not all private schools will have such a requirement. Do some research into both options and decide which type of school you might want to work in.[5]
    • It's possible to work in a private school without becoming certified.
    • Private schools aren't always obligated to follow the same hiring standards as public schools.
    • Public schools will almost always require you to become certified.
    • Many public schools will require you to earn your master's degree at some point.
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    Become certified if you plan on working in a public school. No matter which state you plan on working in, you will need to become certified to teach in that state. However, each state will have its own unique certification requirements and methods. Make sure you fully understand and meet your state's teacher certification requirements.[6][7][8]
    • Check with your college to learn more about your state's requirements for qualifications.
    • You will need to have obtained your bachelor's degree before you can become certified.
    • Your state may require you to have taken some specific college courses.
    • Usually, your state will have an exam that you need to pass in order to become certified.
    • You can find a list of state requirements at
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    Have the right personal skills. Beyond the professional requirements and training, being a social studies teacher will require you to possess certain personal traits. These personal traits will help you engage your students and be a successful teacher. Take a look at the basic qualities and skills a high school social studies teacher should possess:[9]
    • Excellent communication skills.
    • Technological competency.
    • Ability to speak a second language.
    • Patience.

Part 2
Going Through the Certification Process

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    Obtain proof that you are ready to become certified. Before you can become certified in your state, you may need to submit some key documents. These documents will prove that you are prepared to take the exam and obtain your certification. Make sure you have the following documents ready before taking your examination: [10]
    • Official transcripts that demonstrate you've obtained your bachelor's degree
    • Any out of state certifications you may have
    • Letters of recommendation
    • Completed criminal background checks
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    Study the key areas of social studies content. Taking your certification exam will allow you to demonstrate your competency within the key subject areas of social studies. The exact structure of the test will vary from state to state. However, you might try reviewing some of these example subject areas to prepare yourself before the test.[11]
    • History
    • Geography
    • Economics
    • Civics, Citizenship, and Government
    • The Skills of Social Studies
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    Take your exam. After you are qualified to take the exam and have studied for it, you will be able to take the exam itself. The exact details of your exam will vary depending on the state you are taking it in. However, there are some basic tips that you can use to help you successful pass you exam.[12]
    • Leave yourself plenty of time to arrive at your testing location.
    • Carefully read and follow all directions on your test.
    • Keep a good pace during the test.
    • Double check your answers before handing in your exam for grading.

Part 3
Finding and Obtaining Employment

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    Look for vacant positions. Once you've obtained your bachelor's degree and have become certified to teach in your state, you can begin looking for open positions. There are many methods that you can use to find current vacancies. Take your time and find a few positions that meet your needs, before applying to them.[13]
    • You can search on-line for positions, using some of the major job posting websites.
    • Some websites will cater specifically to education careers.
    • You can search on a specific school's website to look for openings.
    • You could utilize your college's employment center to see if they can help you find any openings.
    • Use your own personal network to learn about new openings.
    • Start substitute teaching to gain experience and make contacts.
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    Apply for the position. Once you've found a position that you feel would be a good fit for you, it's time to apply. Carefully follow the school's directions when you are submitting the documents they ask for. Keep some of these tips in mind when applying to help you stand out and land an interview:[14]
    • Send all documentation requested by the school when you apply.
    • Make sure your cover letter and resume are up to date and cater to the position and organization you are applying for.
    • Highlight your skills and the reasons why you are a good fit for the position.
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    Interview for the position. After you've applied for the position you may be offered an interview. This interview will allow the hiring team at the school to assess your skills and qualifications. It will also allow you to learn more about the school and decide if it's the right place for you. Keep some of these basic interviewing tips in mind when you attend your interview:
    • Bring your professional portfolio. This can be a good way to showcase your skills and achievements when you get an interview.
    • Before the interview, study up on the school you are applying for.
    • Your interview may have multiple rounds.
    • Some interviews may require you to teach a class and demonstrate your ability.
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    Obtain your master's degree if needed. Some schools will require you to continue your education and obtain your master's degree in education. Many schools will allow you a certain amount of time to complete your degree while you are working for them. You will need to carefully balance your work and your studies as you move towards meeting this requirement.[15][16]
    • Generally, you will be allowed five years to obtain your master's degree.
    • Your master's degree will provide additional skills and current methods for you to use in the classroom.
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    Keep your skills and qualifications up to date. Even after you've obtained a position and your master's degree, you'll still need to keep your teaching skills sharp. Many schools will require you to undergo continuing education courses. Make sure you are attending the required professional development courses and keeping up-to-date with the newest teaching methodologies to help you become a successful teacher.[17]
    • You'll want to frequently attend teacher workshops.
    • Professional development can help you discover new ways of engaging your students.
    • Continuing education can teach you more about classroom management techniques.

Part 4
Learning More About Being a Social Studies Teacher

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    Know what to expect when it comes to salary. Learning what you are likely to be paid as a social studies teacher can help you decide if the job is right for you. Knowing the average pay-rate can also help you during negotiations when you are being hired. Do some research and learn more about what the average rate of pay for social studies teachers is in your area.[18]
    • The national average income for social studies teachers was about $57k in 2015.
    • The highest paid high school teachers earned up to $91k per year.
    • The lowest pay rate for high school teachers was about $37k a year.
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    Learn more about the outlook for high school social studies teachers. Before you consider obtaining the training and education for any position, it's a good idea to learn how widespread that position will be in the future. Learning more about the projected growth rate for high school social studies teachers will let you know if it's the best time to get involved with this profession.[19]
    • The amount of high school teachers in the US is expected to grow by about 6%.
    • Between 2014 and 2020, many high school teachers are expected to retire, opening up new positions.
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    Discover the core duties of a high school social studies teacher. To help you learn if becoming a high school social studies teacher is right for you, you may want to review some of the core duties of that position. Knowing what daily tasks you will be doing will let you know which skills you already posses and which ones you may need to acquire. Take a look at some of the basic duties that high school social studies teachers will regularly have:[20]
    • Create lesson plans for your classes.
    • Assess students and address their needs.
    • Teach children in varying group sizes.
    • Adapt lessons to class size and student needs.
    • Grade homework and assignments.
    • Keep parents notified of their child's progress.
    • Motivate and work with children individually.
    • Create and enforce classroom rules and provide supervision for the class.

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Categories: Teaching