It’s often said that those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it and suffer its consequences, and that’s largely true. Over the course of history, those who have ignored the lessons of the past have themselves fallen victim to the same misconceptions, missteps, and consequences. That means that today’s high school history teachers have a more important job than ever: Teaching students not only about their immediate past, but about the course of modern human development and how the lessons from those past experiences can help them build brighter futures. Succeeding in this field requires a great deal of dedication to historical discovery and the right combination of college degrees, professional examinations, and state certifications.
A Matter of Degrees: How History Teachers Become Certified
In the race to restore America’s high rankings in global comparisons of various educational metrics, teachers have had to meet an increasingly large number of benchmarks and standards to become certified and remain within the profession. For the aspiring history teacher in the 21st century, that means pursuing a specialized course of study that blends the best of both history and modern education. In many cases, it also means pursuing graduate studies in either field, in order to meet state requirements and better serve today’s students. At the undergraduate level, students should pursue one of the following degree programs:
B.A. in History
A bachelor’s degree in history is often the gateway to numerous careers in the field, including teaching at the high school level. Students who choose such a degree will be exposed to the widest possible array of American, international, and early historical topics. With a broad education such as this, they’ll be able to speak about a large number of topics at length, ranging from the Great Depression to the Bronze Age and beyond.
B.S. in History Education
While a degree in history is a great way to enter the teaching profession, some states actually don’t consider this degree to be the right one for an aspiring educator. States like Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and California, require aspiring teachers to pursue a blended college curriculum in both history and education. As part of this program, students will learn all about various niches within history, while also learning about classroom management, instructional support, curriculum development, and child psychology.
The result of this program is a well-rounded teacher who can manage the classroom as effectively as they can manage their content knowledge. Since students pursue student teaching placement and meet with existing teachers, they’ll also develop a network for finding a full-time position after graduation.
In addition to picking one of the above college majors, students will also need to select a concentration that appeals to them. Every history student will be encouraged to specialize in a given segment of the field, including American, European, Asian, religious, or African history, among others. These specilalizations will serve as the basis for the student’s choice in electives and will especially qualify them for certain teaching positions at the high school level.
With the Right Degree, the Rest is Easy
With the right undergraduate degree in hand, aspiring high school history teachers will find it easy to choose the right graduate program, certification exam, and teaching position, to help further their career goals and educate the leaders of tomorrow. It’s a special reward that determined educators will enjoy throughout their long careers.