How to Become a High School Educator: Career Advice & Information

Overview & Salaries


High school teachers teach, usually, grades nine through twelve in the United States. They teach specialized subjects, such as English, history or math, and prepare students either for further education—college, community college or technical school—or for the workplace. They also take responsibility for teenagers at a time when they’re growing up fast, helping to instill positive attitudes and values and prepare them for the wider world.


Annual salaries for high school teachers will vary depending on your experience, education level, and expertise. In 2013, the average annual salary for high school teachers working in the U.S. was $58,260 per year.

For more information on what parts of the country have the most opportunity for high school teachers, click through to our Best Places to Work tab for information on the number of people employed and the average salary in each state.

Discover the Best Cities and States to Work in High School Teaching

Texas has the greatest number of high school teachers, with 100,500 teachers earning a yearly average salary of $51,850. California is second, where 85,910 high school teachers earn an average salary of $69,260.

The metro areas employing the most high school teachers are:

  • New York-White Plains (33,560)
  • Chicago-Joliet (28,610)
  • Los Angeles-Long Beach (24,450)

The metro areas employing the highest concentration of high school teachers are:

  • Hanford-Corcoran, CA (18.69 jobs per thousand)
  • McAllen, TX (17.22 jobs per thousand)

The metro areas employing the best-paid high school teachers are:

  • Nassau-Suffolk, NY (average annual salary $96,250)
  • New York-White Plains, NY (average annual salary $77,750)

Employment and Salary Information for High School Teachers

Use our interactive map below to find out which areas of the United States are currently experiencing the greatest amount of growth and job availability for graduates looking for a career as a high school teacher. The associated information has been gathered from Bureau of Labor statistics, representing data collected in 2012.

Why Become A High School Teacher?

Everyone says that few jobs are more rewarding than teaching, but it’s worth spelling out just what the benefits of teaching are—for you and the students.

  • Work with young people. It’s not for everyone. But if it is for you, then high school is one of the best possible ways to work with young people—and in high school they’re a bit older and have stronger thoughts and opinions of their own.
  • The demand is there. There are a lot of kids to teach. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates there were just over 955,800 high school teachers in the U.S. in 2012.
  • Decent pay. The average salary for high school teachers is $58,260 per year.
  • Set students up for life. High school education allows you to teach vital skills that will shape the rest of their lives. That’s a big responsibility, but also very rewarding.
  • Vacations. Yes, teachers work hard, and they need the breaks between school semesters for grading and planning lessons, so it’s not all a vacation for them. But still!

High School Teaching: What You Need To Know

Many people remember great high school teachers from their own schooling, but a lot of a teacher’s work is done before they step inside a classroom. A working knowledge of these skill sets will help to set you apart from other candidates.

  • Lesson Structuring and Planning
  • Classroom Management and Discipline
  • Subject-Matter Knowledge
  • Public Speaking and Communication
  • Working with Teenagers

Feel like you’ve got a lot to learn? Get more information about high school teaching careers, degrees, and applicable courses from one of the schools below.

Degree Options for High School Teaching Careers

Bachelor’s degree

High school teachers must have a bachelor’s degree in a particular subject area, such as English, math or science. Public school teachers are also required to hold a state-issued certification or license, showing that they know their subject area, and can create a good learning environment for kids. Private schools often, but don’t always, require their teachers to be publicly certified too.