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How to Become a History Teacher: A Step-by-Step Guide

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The world is full of fascinating people, places, and events. If you are thinking about becoming a history teacher, you have found your niche!

History teachers have the opportunity to learn about anything from ancient Rome to the Civil War. Then they get to pass their fascination with these topics on to their students.

This article will cover what you need to know to become a history teacher.

Whether you are just starting or want some advice on advancing your career as an educator, this article has something for everyone seeking to improve their lives!

What is a History Teacher?

A history teacher helps students learn about the past. They teach students about different people, events, and cultures from all over. History teachers can work in elementary schools, middle schools, or high schools. Colleges and universities also need history professors to teach at a higher level.

History teachers are responsible for the following roles on a typical day at school:

  • Prepare lesson plans for future classes
  • Present lessons based on lesson plans
  • Instruct students on a variety of historical events and themes
  • Administer and grade exams
  • Cover duties outside the classroom such as hall monitor or detention aide

All teachers must embrace flexibility throughout their planned day. Students’ needs often dictate the duties a teacher carries out. As a teacher, you must be open to new ideas and ways of teaching as not all students learn in the same manner.

How Long Does It Take to Become a History Teacher?

To become a history teacher takes an average of four years of study to complete a bachelor’s degree. This accounts for the time spent in college. After that, it’s simply a question of how long it takes you to secure your first position as a history teacher.

It takes time and effort to become a history teacher. The length of the process varies depending on your career goals, your current level of education, teaching experience, and other certifications you may need.

How to Become a History Teacher: A Step-by-Step Guide

For a clear understanding of what to expect, here are the steps you need to take to become a history teacher:

  1. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree in History
  2. Complete a Teacher Preparation Program
  3. Work as an Intern
  4. Sit for Your State’s Required Examination
  5. Apply for Your History Teacher’s License
  6. Apply for History Teacher Positions

We will cover each step of your journey in more detail below. Make a move towards your dream by learning how to become a history teacher.

Related Resource: How to Become a Teacher: A Comprehensive Guide

Step 1. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree in History

To become a history teacher, you will need a bachelor’s degree in history. Your degree provides the education and skills required to teach history to others.

To decide your specialty, first think about your current knowledge of history. Do you have a favorite historical era or topic? How far back do you want to go with the study of history?

The answers will help determine whether a bachelor’s degree in United States History is right for you. If not, other subject areas to consider are world history, maritime history, or an almost endless list of choices.

After earning your bachelor’s degree, you could enroll in a Master of Arts (MA) program. You will take advanced coursework and research opportunities specific to teaching at the secondary level.

You can also choose to pursue an education specialist degree which is often part of a Ph.D. program specifically designed for those who want to become college professors.

Related Resource: 12 Best History Major Jobs: Entry-Level & Career

Step 2. Complete a Teacher Preparation Program

To become a history teacher, you will need to complete a teacher preparation program. You can do this through an undergraduate or graduate degree program at a college or university.

If you don’t enroll in a teacher preparation program, you can still become a history teacher by completing an alternative certification program. Individuals with a bachelor’s degree in a different subject area can enroll in an alternative certification program. Most programs take a year to complete.

Step 3. Work as an Intern

Many degree programs offer student teaching placements, which allow you to work in a classroom under the supervision of experienced educators. You may also want to consider completing an internship program. These programs enable participants to work in a classroom setting and network with potential employers.

One of the best ways to become a better teacher is to work as an intern in a classroom. This allows you to see what it’s like to be a history teacher and helps you develop your skills. It’s also a great way to meet other history teachers and learn more about the profession.

You can find internships through Teach for America, AmeriCorps, or other programs that place teachers in schools. You can also search for internships on websites like or LinkedIn.

When looking for an internship, make sure you find one that matches your skills and interests. Internships can be paid or unpaid, but people opt for paid internships in most cases. This will give you some experience working in the classroom and help you learn about different teaching jobs.

Step 4. Sit for Your State’s Required Examination

Different states have different requirements for becoming a certified history teacher. In most cases, you will need to pass a state-level exam to work as a public-school history teacher.

This exam will likely test your knowledge of US history, world history, and the teaching profession. It would be best to familiarize yourself with the content and format of the exam before sitting for it.

Suppose you’re already a certified teacher in another area. In that case, many states offer an endorsement in social studies or history that allows you to teach these subjects at the high school level.

Step 5. Apply for Your History Teacher’s License

Once you’ve passed your state’s required exams, you can apply for your license. This process usually includes submitting your exam scores, transcripts, and verification that you have completed the teacher’s preparation program.

You will also need to pay a fee and may be required to complete a criminal background check.

After earning your license, it’s essential to stay up-to-date on the latest teaching methods and resources through continuing education.

Step 6. Apply for History Teacher Positions

With your credentials in hand, the time has come to find employment. Many teachers apply directly through a school’s website or use a teacher placement agency.

You may also want to look into substitute teaching in your local area before finding a full-time teaching position. This will help you get your foot in the door and connect with potential employers. If not, then look around the internet for open teaching positions in history.

No matter what path you choose, make sure you keep track of where and when you send out applications. Make sure you follow up after a few weeks to see if they’ve had a chance to review your application.

When you are looking for a teaching job in history, it’s essential to tailor your resume and cover letter to fit the position that you’re applying for. For example, if you’re seeking a high school teaching job, make sure you list all of your experience working with students in that age group.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a college position, make sure your resume includes your most recent and relevant research projects.

What Skills Can Help Me Succeed as a History Teacher?

To be successful as a history teacher doesn’t mean just meeting all the educational requirements. Your job will be easier if you possess certain soft skills.

The following are eight essential skillsets for history teachers.

Have Integrity as a History Teacher

As a history teacher, you are responsible for teaching your students about the past. They will be looking to you for guidance and information, so you must maintain high standards of integrity.

Your students will also learn from your values. Make sure the lessons you teach in the classroom reflect your firm personal beliefs and morals.

Integrity is one of the essential qualities of any teacher. When your students know you are honest and trustworthy, they will be more likely to respect you and take your lessons seriously.

Some ways to maintain integrity in the classroom include being open and transparent with your students, setting expectations and rules up front, and being consistent with punishments.

Building trust with your students is key to being a successful history teacher.

Be a Dependable Person

When you become a history teacher, you are responsible for teaching the material to your students. This means you need to be reliable and ensure both the administration personnel and your students can depend on you.

Students need to know they can rely on you to help them learn and grow. In addition, parents will also look to you as a role model for their children. They will want to know that their children are in the hands of someone they can trust.

Strict Attention to Detail

Besides a good attitude and dependability, an excellent history teacher also has to have a high level of attention to detail.

Creating lesson plans requires attention to detail. History teachers must ensure the historical accuracy of each activity and assignment they make. As a source of information, teachers must get the facts rights.

Detail-oriented teaching requires adherence to a strict timeline. History teachers must plan each day or week of instruction and stick to that schedule to complete their plan for the school year.

A good history teacher will use detail-oriented skills to avoid common pitfalls, create engaging lessons, and build positive relationships with their students. It takes hard work but is well worth it in the end!

History Teachers Should Be Active Listeners

Active listening from a teacher benefits all students. Teachers can take in what their students are saying to ascertain their understanding and build on it. This means that they can keep a class on track by responding to student input.

It also helps create a positive classroom environment where all voices count. To be an effective history teacher, you must develop the ability to listen actively.

Analytical Thinking Skills

One of the essential skills that history teachers need is analytical thinking. This involves breaking down complex information into smaller pieces and understanding how each part fits together.

History teachers need to see the big picture and understand the individual elements. This skill is essential for analyzing historical documents and understanding their significance.

Teachers with analytical thinking skills can help students think critically about historical events. By employing analytical thinking in their lessons, history teachers get their students to develop critical thinking skills. This essential skill benefits all students, not just in history class but in all parts of their lives.

Good Writing and Reading Comprehension

Teachers rely on reading, writing, and speaking to succeed in their craft. No matter what subject or grade level you teach, these are essential skills to have as an educator!

The most successful teachers share these three traits. They read often, frequently write (even if it is just giving feedback on an assignment), and speak in front of a group.

Good Research Skills

A history teacher must research effectively to find the best sources for their lessons. They also need to synthesize information from various sources and present it in an engaging way to students. Good research skills are essential for any history teacher.

If you want to become a better history teacher work on your research skills. Some ways to do this include:

  • Develop and practice your research skills
  • Seek opportunities to use the library and search online resources like scholarly articles related to your topic of choice
  • Check facts carefully

A history teacher must always have accurate information when presenting their subject matter in class!

Good Memory

A history teacher must have an excellent memory to remember all the dates, people, and events they teach. Good memory is vital for any teacher, but it is significant for history teachers.

They need to recall specific details about historical events and share them with their students. If a history teacher cannot remember what they are teaching, students will not learn from them.

Education Needed to Become a History Teacher

To become a history teacher, consider the following education requirements:

A Bachelor’s Degree in History

Although you don’t need to major in education to become a history teacher, you will need to have a bachelor’s degree in history. This will give you the necessary knowledge and skills to teach your students about historical events and figures.

If you want to work in an international setting, a master’s degree will serve you better. However, if you are interested in working with the government or secondary schools, your bachelor’s degree will be enough.

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A Master’s Degree in History

It’s becoming more and more common for teachers to have a master’s degree in the subject they’re teaching. Not only does this make you more qualified to teach, but it also shows that you’re passionate about your craft.

If you don’t have a master’s degree, consider pursuing one. It will be worth the time and effort. Most high schools and colleges require a graduate degree to teach history.

There are quite a few benefits to getting your master’s degree in this field. First, you’ll be able to understand the content better. This will make it easier for you to teach and help your students learn.

Also, you will be seen as a more valuable asset in the eyes of school administrators and peers. They’ll instantly know you’re dedicated enough to get your master’s degree to further your career. A master’s degree also leads to more job opportunities and higher pay rates than just a bachelor’s degree.

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Master’s or Doctorate Degree

If you want to teach history in college, you must pursue a master’s or doctorate. You’ll have the option of earning an MA in history with a concentration that fits your interests and career goals.

To teach at a university, you will want to pursue your Doctorate in History.

Beneficial Fields of Study for Becoming a History Teacher

Many subject areas would benefit someone looking to become a history teacher. The most crucial factor is to find a program that will allow you to specialize in the field of history that interests you.

A few examples include History, Liberal Arts, and Education. While having an undergraduate degree in one of these areas is ideal, it is not always necessary.

Special Certifications Needed to Become a History Teacher

You require at least a four-year degree to become a history teacher. Additionally, you need to be certified for middle or high school teaching in your state.

Suppose you already have a bachelor’s degree but lack the history or teaching qualifications. In that case, you may complete a fifth-year master’s program in a single year.

Otherwise, you may undertake and complete state requirements at a local community college or university. Some states require you to complete continuing education courses to maintain your accreditation.

Course demands differ from one state to the next. In some states, you must pass a competence test such as PRAXIS II in history. Each state has its own set of criteria to meet this objective. Continuing education enhances your abilities, maintains your certification, and boosts your earnings.

Career Outlook for History Teachers

The work environment for history teachers is typically pleasant because they work with students and other supportive colleagues. It can be stressful at times, though there are fewer demands on the job than that of a teacher in an English or Math classroom.

Generally, this path won’t subject you to significant stress if you become a history teacher. The work is steady, and job security is high.

According to research, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects a 1.7% employment rise for history teachers. With a lower than average increase in job availability, a good education can give you an edge.

Most teaching jobs are in public schools, which means you may have to move from your hometown to secure a position. However, with the growth of online and virtual learning, history teachers have more opportunities than ever before.

Related Resource: 17 Best Alternative Jobs for Teachers

Benefits of Becoming a History Teacher

Teaching history allows you to share your love of the subject with future generations while developing critical transferrable skills. You learn how to communicate effectively, develop lesson plans, and manage a classroom when you teach history. These skills are valuable in any field and help you stand out from the competition.

Be a Positive Role Model

History teachers have the opportunity to inspire their students. Being a positive role model can increase your self-confidence and give you an improved sense of purpose.

Develop an Understanding of the World

When you teach history, you develop a greater understanding of the world. This can help you better understand current events and make informed decisions about the future.

Decent Pay

History teachers typically enjoy a healthy salary and benefits. While we’ll discuss more on salary below, it’s important to note that history teachers can enjoy a comfortable life.

A decent salary and the opportunity to make a difference for our youth are just two of the expected benefits that history teachers enjoy. If you’re passionate about sharing your knowledge with others, then this might be the perfect career for you!

History Teacher Salary

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), history teachers can make a decent living. The median yearly salary is $85,630, with the top 10% of high school history instructors earning approximately $141,860 per year.

It’s also worth mentioning that the average annual salary varies by your state of employment, the size of the employer, and your education and experience.

Advancement Opportunities for History Teachers

Career advancement opportunities for history teachers are plentiful. After gaining several years of experience, many history teachers become administrators or curriculum specialists.

Some may even become professors at a college or university. However, the most common career advancement opportunity is to move into a teaching position at a higher-grade level, such as a middle school teacher moving up to become a high school teacher.

No matter what path you choose, always continue to learn and grow as a history teacher. There are many professional development opportunities available, both online and in-person.

What You’ll Need to Advance as a History Teacher

Master’s Degree in History

Pursuing this program gives you the skills and knowledge you need to teach students about US history, world history, and civics.

In addition to coursework in history, many programs also require students to complete a student teaching internship. This will allow you to work in a classroom and gain experience teaching history.

Some programs also offer a certification program to become certified history teachers. You don’t require certification to teach history. Still, it may be helpful if you want to pursue a career in education administration or teaching at the college level.

Doctorate Degree in History

If you want to become a history professor or administrator at the university level, you’ll need to pursue a Doctorate in History. A doctoral degree allows you to conduct original research in your field of study and prepares you for teaching and administrative positions at the college level.

It’s important to note that not all jobs in higher education require a doctorate. Suppose you’re interested in teaching history at the community college level or working as a historian in another field. In that case, a master’s degree may be all you need.

Take That Step

There are a lot of steps you need to take to become a history teacher. You’ll have to go through at least four years of school and training before you can finally work as a teacher, but it is worth it! Helping students learn about the past could be the best career path for you.


Many great online history programs will help you prepare for your teaching career. You can find programs that focus on history or any other subject you are interested in.

After you’ve become certified, it’s time to find a job! Start by checking out job postings on job board websites.

The best way to find a job that’s right for you is to network with other professionals in the field. Attending teacher conventions and meeting people at social events are great ways to make connections that could lead to your new career as a history teacher.

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