Secondary and Higher Education

A secondary education degree leads to a rewarding career in teaching intermediate and high school students in a chosen subject matter. Getting into a secondary education degree program is just the first step in the process

to become a high school teacher. Education degree recipients often have to become certified their state by taking a state standardized test and proving they meet the other requirements of the state to receive their professional teaching certification. Becoming a high school teacher is a stable career path with a slower than average growth rate over the next decade. 

Subject Matter Expertise

Secondary education majors have two majors while obtaining their degree--education and subject matter. The subject matter will be their area of expertise and the subject they will teach. Elementary educators teach them subjects. Secondary education can choose one of the following subject for their specialty. 

  • English
  • History
  • Social Studies
  • Science (Biology, Chemistry, etc)
  • Languages (French, Spanish, German, etc.)
  • Business (typing, career development, etc)
  • Home Economics
  • Reading
  • Mathematics
  • Music
  • Art

Admission Requirements

Admission requirements vary from school to school and even state to state as the college frame their education degree requirements on the state's teacher regulations. Admission requirements may be more or less tougher than the college general admission requirements Attending a college in New York prepares the student to teach in the same state and if the student moves from that state, they will need to become certified to teach in their new state of residence. 

Student Teaching

Most states require that future secondary education teachers to spend at least on semester in a classroom teaching. Students will implement teaching strategies and create lesson plans. Both Pennsylvania and New York Departments of Education require a full semester.  Students in secondary degree programs are exposed to their future careers often through mandatory assignments.  

Background Checks

Each state requires that students submitted to background checks, including criminal and child abuse. These clearances are mandatory before an education degree student enters the classroom. New York, Pennsylvania, California, Texas and several other states require that anyone employed by school districts also be fingerprinted. 

Career Advancement

Secondary education teachers earn a secondary education certification, which shows they are knowledgeable in teaching practices and their chosen subject matter. Teachers do not have to stay in the classroom. Advancement opportunities include the following positions:

  • Principal
  • Vice principal
  • Superintendent
  • Supervisory roles (librarians, guidance counselors, instructional coordinators, etc)
  • Professor (with advanced degree)
  • School administrator
  • Post-Graduation Salary Information

    Teachers earn more as they gain more experience and education. Thus, entry level teachers earn considerably less than their more experienced counterparts. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay of U.S. secondary teachers is $53,230 per year. 

    Secondary education is a degree for those who relish the challenge of molding the future generation. A strong desire to teach is essential for success as an education major. Secondary education teachers are required to keep abreast of the latest teaching techniques through periodic training, such as in-service and college credits. Students, who complete an education degree program, often find the resulting employment rewarding. 

    Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, High School Teachers

    Pennsylvania Department of Education, Teacher Certification

    Office of Teaching Initiatives, New York State Education Department, Fingerprinting.

    Office of Teaching Initiatives, New York State Education Department, Substitute Teaching.

    National Science Board, Science and Engineering Indicators 2004, Elementary and Secondary Education, Teacher Quality


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