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Working As a Government Teacher

  • Training and Teaching Others
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work
  • Getting Information
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Coaching and Developing Others
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Angry People

  • $68,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Government Teacher Do

High school teachers help prepare students for life after graduation. They teach academic lessons and various skills that students will need to attend college and to enter the job market.

Duties

High school teachers typically do the following:

  • Plan lessons in the subjects they teach, such as biology or history
  • Assess students to evaluate their abilities, strengths, and weaknesses
  • Teach students in full class settings or in small groups
  • Adapt lessons to any changes in class size
  • Grade students’ assignments and exams to monitor progress
  • Communicate with parents about students’ progress
  • Work with individual students to challenge them, to improve their abilities, and to work on their weaknesses
  • Prepare students for standardized tests required by the state
  • Develop and enforce classroom rules and administrative policies
  • Supervise students outside of the classroom—for example, at lunchtime or during detention

High school teachers generally teach students from the 9th through 12th grades. They usually specialize in one subject area, such as math, science, or history. They may teach several different classes within that subject area. For example, a high school math teacher may teach courses in algebra, calculus, and/or geometry.

High school teachers may teach students from different grades throughout the day. For example, in one class they may have students from the 9th grade and then in the next class they may have 12th-grade students. In many schools, students are divided into classes on the basis of their abilities, so teachers need to change their courses to match the students’ abilities.

High school teachers see several different classes of students throughout the day. They may teach the same material—for example, world history—to more than one class if the school has many students taking that subject.

Some high school teachers instruct special classes, such as art, music, and physical education.

When they do not have classes, teachers plan lessons, grade assignments, and meet with other teachers and staff.

In some schools, teachers of English as a second language (ESL) and teachers of English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) work exclusively with students who are learning the English language. These students are often referred to as English language learners (ELLs). These teachers work with students individually or in groups to help them improve their English language skills and help them with assignments for other classes.

Students with learning disabilities and emotional or behavioral disorders often are taught in traditional classes. Therefore, high school teachers may work with special education teachers to adapt lessons to these students’ needs and to monitor the students’ progress.

Some teachers maintain websites to communicate with parents about students’ assignments, upcoming events, and grades. For students, teachers may create websites or discussion boards to present information and to expand a lesson taught in class.

Some high school teachers coach sports and advise student clubs and other groups, activities that frequently take place before or after school.

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How To Become A Government Teacher

High school teachers must have a bachelor’s degree. In addition, public school teachers must have a state-issued certification or license.

Education

All states require public high school teachers to have at least a bachelor’s degree. Most states require high school teachers to have majored in a subject area, such as science or history. Teachers typically enroll in their institution’s teacher preparation program and take classes in education and child psychology as well.

In teacher education programs, prospective high school teachers learn how to present information to students and how to work with students of varying abilities and backgrounds. Programs typically include fieldwork, such as student teaching. For information about teacher preparation programs in your state, visit Teach.org.

Some states require high school teachers to earn a master’s degree after earning their teaching certification.

Teachers in private schools do not need to meet state requirements. However, private schools typically seek high school teachers who have a bachelor’s degree and a major in a subject area.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

All states require teachers in public schools to be licensed or certified. Those who teach in private schools are generally not required to be licensed. Most states require teachers to pass a background check.

High school teachers typically are awarded a secondary or high school certification, which allows them to teach the 7th through the 12th grades.

Requirements for certification vary by state. In addition to requiring a bachelor’s degree, states require teachers to complete a teacher preparation program and supervised experience in teaching, typically gained through student teaching. States also typically require candidates to pass a general teaching certification test, as well as a test that demonstrates their knowledge in the subject they will teach. Some states require teachers to have a minimum grade point average as well. For information on certification requirements in your state, visit Teach.org.

Often, teachers are required to complete annual professional development classes to keep their license. Some states require teachers to complete a master’s degree after receiving their certification.

All states offer an alternative route to certification for people who already have a bachelor’s degree but lack the education courses required for certification. Some alternative certification programs allow candidates to begin teaching immediately under the supervision of an experienced teacher. These programs cover teaching methods and child development. After they complete the program, candidates are awarded full certification. Other programs require students to take classes in education before they can teach. Students may be awarded a master’s degree after completing either type of program.

Training

In order to receive certification, teachers need to undergo a period of fieldwork, commonly referred to as student teaching. During student teaching, they work with a mentor teacher and gain experience teaching students in a classroom setting. The amount of time required varies by state.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Teachers must collaborate with other teachers and special education teachers. In addition, teachers need to discuss students’ needs with parents and administrators.

Patience. Working with students of different abilities and backgrounds can be difficult. High school teachers must be patient when students struggle with material.

Resourcefulness. High school teachers need to explain difficult concepts in terms students can understand. In addition, they must be able to engage students in learning and adapt lessons to each student’s needs.

Advancement

Experienced teachers can advance to be mentors or lead teachers. In these positions, they often work with less experienced teachers to help them improve their teaching skills.

With additional education or certification, teachers may become school counselors, school librarians, or instructional coordinators. Some become assistant principals or principals. Becoming a principal usually requires additional instruction in education administration or leadership. For more information, see the profiles on school and career counselors, librarians, instructional coordinators, and elementary, middle, and high school principals.

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Government Teacher Typical Career Paths

Average Length of Employment
Certified Teacher 4.9 years
Math Teacher 4.2 years
Journalism Teacher 3.9 years
Teacher 3.9 years
Teacher Advisor 3.7 years
History Teacher 3.3 years
Economics Teacher 3.1 years
Class Teacher 2.6 years
8th Grade Teacher 2.5 years
Humanities Teacher 2.5 years
Literacy Teacher 2.3 years
Government Teacher 2.0 years
Geometry Teacher 1.8 years
Student Teacher 0.7 years
Top Careers Before Government Teacher
Teacher 14.5%
Internship 4.5%
Instructor 3.9%
Director 2.8%
Law Clerk 2.8%
Secretary 1.7%
Top Careers After Government Teacher
Teacher 21.6%
Owner 3.4%
Principal 3.4%
Internship 3.4%
Director 2.7%

Do you work as a Government Teacher?

Top Skills for A Government Teacher

  1. Classroom Management
  2. Government Curriculum
  3. Lesson Plans
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Develop a classroom management plan that addresses any disciplinary problems that may arise.
  • Created and implemented the United States History and Government curriculum for the 11th grade students at RCMCS.
  • Worked collaboratively with colleagues to develop challenging and engaging lesson plans.
  • Developed lesson plans and instructional materials for US History and African American History.
  • Worked directly with the Director of the Social Studies Department to ensure class structure was according to the school/state standards.

Government Teacher Demographics

Gender

Male

52.6%

Female

34.6%

Unknown

12.8%
Ethnicity

White

57.9%

Black or African American

15.3%

Hispanic or Latino

13.3%

Asian

9.0%

Unknown

4.6%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

41.7%

Portuguese

8.3%

Chinese

8.3%

Somali

8.3%

Greek

8.3%

Arabic

8.3%

Cantonese

8.3%

Tamil

8.3%
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Government Teacher Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

13.5%

University of Houston

7.7%

University of Arizona

7.7%

University of California - Berkeley

5.8%

University of Texas at Austin

5.8%

Grand Canyon University

5.8%

University of Connecticut

3.8%

Iona College

3.8%

University of South Florida

3.8%

Northern Arizona University

3.8%

University of Pennsylvania

3.8%

University of West Florida

3.8%

Harvard University

3.8%

Liberty University

3.8%

Clemson University

3.8%

University of Central Oklahoma

3.8%

Queens College of the City University of New York

3.8%

Northern Michigan University

3.8%

East Carolina University

3.8%

University of North Texas

3.8%
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Majors

Elementary Education

13.1%

Education

13.1%

Political Science

10.9%

History

10.9%

Educational Leadership

10.4%

Law

6.0%

General Education, Specific Areas

3.8%

Sociology

3.3%

Curriculum And Instruction

3.3%

Business

2.7%

Fine Arts

2.7%

Secondary Education And Teaching

2.7%

Public Policy Analysis

2.7%

Educational Technology

2.2%

Social Sciences

2.2%

International Relations

2.2%

Special Education

2.2%

Criminal Justice

2.2%

Management

1.6%

Health Care Administration

1.6%
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Degrees

Masters

44.4%

Bachelors

32.0%

Other

10.0%

Doctorate

8.3%

Certificate

4.1%

License

0.8%

Diploma

0.4%
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