How to Become a High School Teacher


Teaching at the high school level can be a very rewarding experience. You can influence students as they enter adulthood, dive deeper into specific content areas like U.S. History or Calculus, and integrate skills that will help teenagers thrive in and outside of the classroom.

To become a high school teacher, you will need requirements such as degrees and certifications as well as the ability to communicate and empathize with burgeoning young adults.

Personal Qualities

Teaching high school requires a slightly different skill set than teaching lower grade levels, which is why teachers in the United States are required to have a specific certification to teach secondary students (grades 6-12, generally). High school teachers work with young adults, and therefore have to integrate important life skills like collaboration, critical thinking, and time management. In a high school setting, students typically change classrooms throughout the school day and are required to be more independent. Managing a classroom of teenagers requires a different perspective, understanding, and approach than in an elementary school classroom. To be an effective high school teacher, an educator should be communicative, empathetic, open-minded, and open to giving students personal responsibilities. 

What Degree Do You Need to Become a High School Teacher

All states will require you to have an undergraduate degree to qualify for a teaching certification. If you have not yet received a bachelor’s degree, you may want to explore a “traditional path” and earn a degree in education. However, for many adults interested in becoming a teacher, spending four years to earn a bachelor’s degree is not a feasible pathway, especially for adults who have already earned a bachelor’s degree. 

If you have already received your bachelor’s degree in a subject other than education you can still apply for a teaching certification. You will be required to complete additional coursework in order to prepare to be successful in the classroom. You can typically complete this coursework through a certification program or an online master’s in education

It’s important to remember that only a government entity can grant you teaching certification. Regardless of what program you attend, you will have to apply for your certification through the local entity, typically the Department of Education in the state where you plan to teach. 

Choosing Your Subject

Another important step in becoming a high school teacher is determining what subject(s) you want to teach. Because you are teaching at the secondary level, it’s helpful if you have some qualifications in your desired subject. Extended experience in a particular industry, like technology or journalism, for example, may meet certification requirements in your state. Holding a bachelor’s or master’s degree related to the subject you plan to teach may also meet the requirements in your state. It’s best to consult your state licensing department to determine your requirements for a content-specific secondary teaching license. 

Once you have chosen what subject you would like to teach, most states will require you to pass state assessments and  prove subject competency.

Getting Your Teaching Certification

Most public and private high schools in the U.S. will require you to get a secondary teaching certification to become a high school teacher.

Certification requirements vary by state. Regardless of the program that you attend, you should check your local entity’s requirements for teaching certification so you can properly plan coursework, reciprocity, and content assessments.

You can see your state’s teaching requirements here.

Ready to become a high school teacher? Learn more about becoming a teacher with Moreland University here. Complete a request for information and our team will be in touch within 24 hours.

Where are you on your path to teacher certification?

Whether you are pursuing a teaching license in the United States or internationally, we can help. Explore our flagship online teacher certification preparation program to get you prepared to apply for a U.S. state teaching license in as fast as 12 months.


To issue a formal teaching qualification, most countries require a baccalaureate degree, a teacher preparation program, demonstration of subject knowledge, and a clinical teaching experience.

Baccalaureate Degree

Teacher Preparation Program

Subject Knowledge

Clinical Practice

Teacher Certification

online teaching preparation programs in the united states

United States

There are 51 states (including the District of Columbia) the offer teaching creditials in the United States. TEACH-NOW Teacher Preparation Certificate Program is approved in three states: DC, AZ and WV.

51 States Have Specific
Certification Requirements

Accredited Approved Certificate
Preparation Provider in
DC, AZ, and WV

Teacher Certification
in 3 States

Reciprocity Agreements Among
Most States + Recognition by
Most Countries

Additional Reading