How to Become a Secondary School Teacher

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High school and junior high school teachers give stability, discipline, direction and knowledge to adolescents from a variety of backgrounds. A real passion for your area of expertise is essential if you want to help shape young lives and maintain your classroom authority.

Things You'll Need

  • Academic Counselings
  • Career Counseling
  • Postage Stamps
  • Envelopes
  • résumé paper
  • résumé software
  • Begin working with adolescents as soon as possible by volunteering in your local junior high or high schools as a teacher's aide and in church groups, teen educational outreach programs or sports associations. Contact your local school district or city parks and recreation department for details.

  • Document all your volunteer work and collect references from supervisors: You may be required to have as many as 80 volunteer hours completed before you are accepted into a teacher-credential program.

  • Earn a bachelor's degree in the specific subject area you want to teach, such as art, music, English, history, mathematics or biology. Consider obtaining a minor in physical education, music or a foreign language to make yourself more marketable to a school looking for teachers who can do more than one thing.

  • Find fifth year/postgraduate programs you can apply to for a single-subject teaching credential. Find out about entrance requirements, including standardized tests and prerequisite courses.

  • Complete your teacher credential program by taking graduate courses in education and your preferred subject area and by passing national teacher certification exams and those required for the state you want to teach in. At the same time, complete your supervised teacher training in your specific area of expertise in grade levels 8 through 12.

  • Establish an employment file in your graduating college's educational placement office, which will become your job-search headquarters. There you will find current job listings, and your file will be sent out to prospective employers on request.

  • Research and join professional organizations related to your specific area of teaching, such as the National Council for Teachers of English (NCTE).

Tips & Warnings

  • Keep in mind that credential requirements for special education, elementary education and kindergarten are significantly different from those for the single-subject credential.
  • Spend as much time as possible working with adolescents before you make the decision to devote the rest of your life to teaching them.

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