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Finding a Career as a History Teacher

Updated on November 4, 2014

A Decision is Required

So, you enjoy history and would like to teach that subject but don't know how to go about becoming a history teacher? The first thing to do is decide where you would like to teach history. High school? College?

Which do you choose?

See results

The High School Option

If you choose high school, you want to first check out where history fits into the curriculum in your state or locality.

In many places history has been merged into the social science curriculum so you will have to be prepared to teach other social studies courses intermixed with history.

In order to proceed, the next thing to check is the requirements for teaching in your state. You will need a bachelor's degree with a major or minor in history or some social science combination.

If you already have a bachelor's degree you will more than likely only have to take the additional history courses and teacher training courses in order to become certified.

If you do not have a degree you will have to enroll in a program that will lead to a degree in education with a major or minor in history. Be warned that the so called “teacher shortage” in most communities refers to a shortage of math and science teachers, not history teachers.

While math and science teachers just have to show up and get hired, teachers in subjects like history usually face a long job search.

The College Option

If you answered college rather than high school you will generally need a master's or, preferably a PhD degree in history before being considered.

Again, the field is very crowded, so be prepared to do a nation-wide search and move. One option is to work in another field and teach history part-time as an adjunct instructor.

Community Colleges are best for this as they tend to rely heavily on adjuncts for their faculty. Here, a master's degree is usually sufficient.

In the past working another job and teaching tended to limit your options as with most full time outside jobs you are only available to teach in the evenings or on weekends. However, with the rise of on line courses, there should be more jobs available because these jobs are not limited to specific times.

If you live in a city with one or more major universities, even adjunct jobs may be difficult to find as these jobs are popular with graduate students.

Here again, on line may be a way around this as you do not have to be physically present in the community where the college is located.

Many colleges are starting to expand on line programs and are looking for instructors. Check the Internet for schools offering on line courses and degrees, then start contacting those schools about teaching.

Also, you don't have to limit yourself to the U.S. as demand for education is growing abroad and, with English as a common second language, you may be able to land an on line job with a foreign school.

A Passion for History Helps

As I said at the beginning, this is a very crowded field which makes it difficult to find a job.

So, what do you do if you cannot find a job teaching history at a high school or college and still want to teach history?

You can always teach a non-credit course at a community college or some times at a local library, historical society, historical museum, etc. These are always part-time positions and you only get to teach if enough people register for the class.

Formal academic training is desirable but often not required. What is required is a thorough knowledge of what you will be teaching and a passion for the subject. People take these courses because they want to so there is an element of entertainment here as well as transfer of knowledge.

The college or other organization sponsoring the course usually cannot use tax dollars to subsidize the course and often see such courses as a way to help raise funds. However, you get to teach and get paid for your efforts.

Since your students take the course because they enjoy history, you have to make the class both enjoyable and rewarding for them. No dry academic lectures, but also no tests or term papers. Instead you share your knowledge and passion for the subject with them and get paid for doing what you enjoy. A win-win for both teacher and student.

Having read the Hub have you changed your mind?

See results

© 2006 Chuck Nugent


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    • profile image

      analyn 4 years ago

      i really love history

    • Chuck profile image

      Chuck Nugent 6 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      Ray - as I indicated in the Hub you might find a position as an adjunct (part-time) instructor at a college especially a community college. You could also try teaching non-credit history courses for a community college. Also, some of the new charter and other private schools might hire people with academic degrees but no education courses.

    • profile image

      ray 6 years ago

      Hey,I wanted to be a history teacher but is there any way that I could just teach with a history degree and no education classes. Thanks

    • profile image

      NICKII 6 years ago


    • profile image

      Paul 6 years ago

      I tried really hard to get hired as a social studies teacher in my home state. I studied to pass economics and psychology CLEP tests and became endorsed in ALL SOCIAL SCIENCES (9 different subjects!)and the best I could do was get two interviews. The job I eventually got was in BD Special Education. I love my job so I would encourage anyone looking into social studies teaching to ditch it and go into special education. One you have built up seniority in your school district you will be able to bid into a history teaching job. Do not think that if you are a coach you will be hired, either, since even that is not a sure job getter in this awful econonomy.

      Always remember why you went into teaching: for the kids, and not your ego. I felt pissed off at first that some idiots I knew were hired to teach history while I was stuck in a BD room. Then I came to understand my students and form a lasting, useful bond with all of them. I still study history and read about it. I post on on-line history forums. I am still an avid history buff, but I do not have to teach it to love it.

    • profile image

      Samantha 6 years ago

      That was really fun to read. Though I had thoughts about being a science teacher as well. Maybe I'll take both courses. Nicely done.

    • profile image

      seth kennedy 6 years ago

      Im a senior in high school this year and want to be a history teacher and this hub was very informative thanks

    • profile image

      campbell 6 years ago

      i say hello

    • profile image

      mawii 7 years ago

      I really LOVE history and i love to watch history chanel most of the time, i'm an 8th grader and i want to be a doctor [it's my lifelong dream] but i wouldn't mind teaching history :) my problem is if i study hard to become a doctor and then dont make it, i will feel ashamed of myself completely and well teaching would feel like a second choice and well i love it too much so that after trying to do another thing i'll be have to been stuck with this... thinking about this makes me wanna cry :'P

    • Chuck profile image

      Chuck Nugent 7 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      Jack - talk to an adviser at the college. I suspect you could major in History and minor in education or some other combination.

      Also, teacher licensing requirements vary from state to state and the state in which the college you are planning to attend may not have a license category for history teachers. Instead, they may have combined history teaching in the public K-12 system with other social science or humanities disciplines. In this case the college probably has a broader education major that combines history with courses from other social science and/or humanities department courses that meets the requirements of that state's licensing.

      Of course, if you are not planning on living and working in that state then you should check the requirements for teacher licensing in the state in which you plan to reside after graduation to make sure that you can teach history in that state with the degree you receive from the college you are planning to attend.

      Failure to do this checking may result in your having to spend additional time and money taking more courses in history after graduation in order to meet the requirements of your state's K-12 history teaching license.

      Finally, as I pointed out in this Hub, even if you invest all of the time and effort into meeting the license requirements for the teaching license, you had better have a career plan B as the supply of qualified (i.e. those who have met the requirements for a license to teach history in a state's public K-12 system) far exceeds the number of history teaching positions available in these systems.

      Good Luck.

    • profile image

      jack 7 years ago

      the colledge i wish to attend does not have a history education program. so woud i have to get a teaching cirtification and a history degree.

    • profile image

      Emma Jess 7 years ago

      I'm Unsure Wat I Want To Do I Want To Teach History But I Want To Study Photography But I'm Unsure.


    • profile image

      Kathryn 7 years ago

      I have always wanted to be a high school history teacher, but these comments are leaving me so discouraged and upset. I can't imagine myself having any other career besides one involving history, and to hear that there are no jobs out there almost brings me to tears. Why is it that a football coach would be more qualified to teach history than someone with a masters degree in the subject. I am close to completing my undergraduate degree, and I would like to think that there is some hope that a job is out there. I sure hope I have a better experience than those of you haven't been able to find a job.

    • profile image

      Olivia  7 years ago

      I love this because i do want to be a history teacher. And, reading this was just fun! Thank you for having this page. Now i really know what to do when I graduate from High School this year.Thank you, this only makes me know for sure that i am going to become a teacher!

    • profile image

      Tyson Granger 7 years ago

      Thank's buddy

    • profile image

      Visitor 8 years ago


      Ask the Tutor what being a history teacher has meant to her. This page is helpful to history students/teachers or parents.

      Online history tutoring page (all grade levels are considered) - Content Focus: American-European-Ancient History.

      Patient and experienced tutor has two BA degrees in education and two MA degrees in history.

      Plus - Ten years or more experience tutoring home school students in history.

    • profile image

      8 years ago

      I used this in a school reserch paper. Sweet!

    • profile image

      Amanda 8 years ago

      After reading this, I only feel reassured. I'm on a 5-year Master's Plan on History, and I only feel more encouraged to do what I've wanted to do. I have always loved History, and I had the best History teacher my junior and senior years of high school. He strengthened my love of it and taught in a different, entertaining way. I can only hope to be as good as he is. I hope to graduate one day and visit him at my old high school so he can see what his "most interested" student has become.

      Believe me, if you have a passion and you want to show it to the world, become a teacher. You can touch so many lives and spark so many thoughts in people that didn't even know existed until you taught them.

    • Chuck profile image

      Chuck Nugent 8 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      create a page - Thanks for the suggestion. This could be a very good way to follow one's passion for teaching history while making money at the same time. Many parents are concerned about their childrens' educational progress and are turning to tutors to help their children.

      Thanks again for the suggestion.


    • create a page profile image

      create a page 8 years ago from Maryland, USA

      I am a former history teacher with a degree in history with social sciences, and I have also been trained in the field. May I suggest that persons who have expressed their desire to teach history consider tutoring history if they are unable to teach in a classroom setting for whatever reason. It may be a great way to combine your passion with a desire to earn money on your terms, that is, where and when to teach as well as the fees to be charged.

      Parents usually look for tutors that can help their child or children maintain or improve their grades in school.

    • Steve R McDowell profile image

      Steve R McDowell 8 years ago from Atlanta

      Very interesting hub!

      My wife actually wants to teach high school math, but she has a fondness for particular parts of history. I, personally, can't stand learning or teaching history because it's too much about knowing this fact or that fact. I prefer learning methods as opposed to facts... because for some reason, I just can't remember straight facts for anything! Even names of people I see everyday escape me rather often, let alone names of people I've never met and hardly care about, lol

      However, it is a respectable field of study, and I often have to rely on my wife when I need to know something about the past. I wish I was more into history, but I'm just not.

    • profile image

      Raul 8 years ago

      I was seriously thinking about ditching my career in I.T.(which promises good pay in the long run) to a path in teaching history. I've liked history since I was a kid but I think its going to have to remain a hobby.

    • Chuck profile image

      Chuck Nugent 8 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      Billy, thanks for visiting and for your comment. I, too, have a degree in history. I love the area and have used the knowledge in my career but, given the market for history teachers, never entered the field as a teacher.

      Thanks again,


    • profile image

      billy 8 years ago

      after reading this concise post about history teacher job prospects and given the current economy of the nation I believe I would do much better going down a different road. (and I already have a degree in history!)

    • profile image

      Lizaro 8 years ago

      I thought about switching careers from a Graphic Designer (another saturated field) to teaching history. I guess this helps put things into perspective. I have considered teaching computer technology in a high school setting too. I wonder how competitive that is as well?

    • profile image

      Twin XL 9 years ago

      Great hub, very informative. Thanks.

    • profile image

      RAY714 9 years ago

      I'm taking AP History next year in 10th grade. I hope that someday I will teach at Harvard

    • profile image

      crr 9 years ago

      I agree with dooves comment, There just are not a lot of jobs in this field. I have been certified for more then four years. In that time I sent my resume to more then 600 schools. A lot of the schools where I had interviews were in the worst schools of my city. The position they were going to hire me for was, of all things an english position. After seeing that the job was unconditional, I left before I was hired. I looked into the Catholic schools and it is hard to find a history job here too. After a awhile I felt it unnecessary to try to get a 25,000 a year job. Also let me tell you, the process of getting a teaching cert. was the hardest thing I have done in my 33 years of life. I mean this from a political standpoint, not an academic one. One person told me not to be a history teacher because there are no positions. I however was raised to believe that if you work hard enough you will get what you want. Well I looked hard, I had good references, however I could not procure a job. The sad thing is when I asked my university if there are any teaching jobs in history they said no. Then why are you certifying people in this field if their are no jobs?!?!? Teaching shortage: math + science+LD+BD yes. History+English no. Now I am trying to move on, I am looking to break into the IT field so I can earn some money. I still like history but I think I will have to just volunteer. Again thanks Doov for telling the truth

    • profile image

      Joe 9 years ago

      I am in a Manual Labor Union for New York City and I bust my butt all day long for close to 9 hours a day. I left school when I was 19 because I really couldn't stand it anymore and felt the roof caving in on me. Now that I'm 21, I feel like an education is extremely imporant and I was thinking of becoming a Public School teacher.I love History and would like teaching it too... Just wanted to see what you guys think for a person in my position.. Thanks

    • profile image

      devyn the girl.. 9 years ago

      hi im in the 10th grade and my mom told i need to start lookin at what i want to a first i wated to be a pediatrician but i have todo my 4 yearz in college n then 6 more n i hate skool...but love children my next job was teachig...just want to know what you guys things about teaching is it hard to become a teacher or is it even worth it???

    • profile image

      Doov 9 years ago

      Unless you have connections in a school district, don't bother. You will simply bust your butt, invest time, energy and money, towards a field where ~300 applicants vie for any job. My biggest regret in my young life is wasting time following my "dream." Dreams are for little girls, go and make some money.

    • profile image

      vietnamese translation services 9 years ago

      I like history, but I don't think I can teach history!

    • Jack Burton profile image

      Jack Burton 9 years ago from The Midwest

      I came thisclose to going to college to be a high school history teacher but the Lord had other plans for me. I sometimes wonder how life would have turned out otherwise.

    • profile image

      jeff 11 years ago

      thanks for destroying my dreams.

    • profile image

      Lara 11 years ago

      Cool post! I found it interesting!

    • profile image

      Don 11 years ago

      It's great! I found it interesting!

    • profile image

      George 11 years ago

      Wow! I learned something new!

    • profile image

      Terry 11 years ago

      Great hub. And good advice!

    • profile image

      Tory 11 years ago

      Great hub!

    • profile image

      Larry 11 years ago

      Awesome! I learned something new!

    • profile image

      Bob 11 years ago

      Thanks! It helped me a lot!

    • profile image

      Hal 11 years ago

      Nice post! Very informative!

    • profile image

      TFW 11 years ago

      Good sound advice. Since I recently retired I've considered going back to my first academic love- US Military History- So now to explore the waters and see what rises to the surface in our local area.

    • glassvisage profile image

      glassvisage 11 years ago from Northern California

      Wow that's really good information!

    • Chuck profile image

      Chuck Nugent 11 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      Thanks, Jimmy

    • jimmythejock profile image

      James Paterson 11 years ago from Scotland

      great advice chuck and a great hub.....jimmy


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