Although the requirements for becoming a high school teacher are essentially the same within each state, teachers may specialize in a number of different fields. One very important field teachers can concentrate on is health.
High school health teachers, in addition to being mentors for young teenagers, can help students learn about drug abuse, sexually-transmitted disease prevention, good nutrition, mental health, and the development of good personal hygiene.
How Does One Become a High School Health Teacher?
The steps that one can follow can include (depending on state-by-state unique requirements):
Find and apply to a college or university with a good academic reputation and a BA/BS in health science.
You will have to take a number of life science courses. In fact, you will have to take at least one course in all fundamental sciences (biology, chemistry, physics, etc.) since subsequent science courses build on the basics you will learn therein. The courses you take should be approved by an academic body like the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).
These credit-granting teaching-experience scenarios offer you the unique opportunity to try out the profession before you fully immerse in it; it also helps you prepare for the job by working with an experienced teacher.
Take special tests required by your state; these may differ, depending on what area you specialize in.
Health teachers, for example, may need to demonstrate competence in their particular field, in addition to other tests given to all teachers. You generally have to pass these exams after obtaining your degree.
Apply to the state for licensing or certification.
You will not be able to teach formally until you get your license/certification. In addition to the above-mentioned criteria/steps, you may also have to undergo certain qualifying processes—i.e., pass a background check, submit to urine/blood drug tests, prove residency status (if applicable), prove you are legally qualified to work in the US, etc.
For those who possess a BA/BS but not the required education courses, a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) might be an alternative way to qualify for certification. Obtaining a graduate degree, furthermore, may enhance your employment chances as well as opportunities for advancement.
Something else you can do (in addition to amassing letters of recommendation) is obtain national certification. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), for example, offers the National Board Certification in young adult and adolescent health instruction. This is a plateau, though, that you can reach for only after having under your belt 3 years of experience and a teaching certification/license.
What Do High School Health Teachers Do On a Day-by-Day Basis
Needless to say, being a high school teacher these days can be a very demanding and hectic job.
In addition to collaborating with teaching staff and other school personnel, you will be expected to provide extra help to those students who need it; prepare and submit lesson plans that must be approved by administrators; maintain order/control in your classroom; discipline students, as needed; keep track of class materials and equipment; keep attendance records; meet with parents when necessary; attend special conferences/seminars; help out with school functions and events; attend professional development classes; attend PTA meetings, when possible; and, if you have any time left over, teach.
What Are Some Questions to Ask If Considering HS Health Teaching?
Typical questions to ask include:
- Does the college/university possess accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education?
- Is the teacher preparation degree accepted by your state’s department of education?
- Are there exams you will have to pass as part of your program or licensing process (e.g., the Praxis I and II)?
- What are the grade levels you will be qualified to teach—the whole spectrum of 9th to the 12th?
- What duties beyond teaching will the district expect you to perform (beyond the obvious)?
- How does the employment picture look for health teachers?
All in all, the picture looks bright for high school health teachers. This is true, among other reasons, because the healthcare industry is expected to produce many jobs in the future—thus the need for teachers in the field.
With an average salary of about $54, 270, roughly 71,900 more jobs to be added, and a job growth rate of about 6.9% between 2010 and 2020, high school teaching, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, is a promising field to delve into. You need to make sure, though, that you meet all the requirements, if you want to join such a distinguished group of professionals.