What is a History Teacher?

N. Madison
N. Madison

A history teacher is an individual who teaches students about past events, generally at a high school or lower academic level. This individual teaches students about past civilizations, historical events, cultures, and political structures. He informs students about such things as the languages and religious practices of people who lived long ago. He also introduces and explains past wars, rulers, and major changes in society. A history teacher also covers such things as past styles of dress, work, food, celebrations, and home life.

High school history teachers likely majored in history in college.
High school history teachers likely majored in history in college.

Some history teachers choose to teach at the elementary school level. In some places, history teachers may teach elementary school students such subjects as ancient history, world history, and local history. They may cover important wars, rulers, and historical events that changed the world or a particular region. In other places, however, elementary school teachers do not teach just one topic to their assigned class. Instead, they must teach other basic subjects, such as science, math, and writing, in addition to history.

History teachers may teach several history classes per day, each focused on a different area of history.
History teachers may teach several history classes per day, each focused on a different area of history.

Often, history teachers who instruct in middle or high school teach history and nothing else. For example, a history teacher may teach several history classes per day at this level rather than remaining with one group of students for the entire day. Some teachers may teach just one history subject, such as world or ancient history, while others may cover several different history subjects over the course of one day, switching subjects each time a different group of students enters the classroom.

Some history teachers instruct students on a higher level, teaching history in college or graduate school. This type of history teacher is usually referred to as a history professor and covers highly specific history subjects. For example, a college-level history professor may teach medieval history, history of the Middle East, or European or American history. Some professors focus on one type of history or a specific time period while others teach a variety of courses and cover a range of historical time frames.

In most places, an individual needs a college degree in order to become a history teacher. For teaching in elementary school, an individual may need an education degree or a history degree with a minor in education. To teach in middle school or high school, teachers are usually expected to earn college degrees in a history-related subject. College professors typically earn advanced degrees in history, with many beginning their careers with Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees. Some colleges may also hire instructors who have master’s degrees, especially if they will be assisting other professors or teaching part time.

N. Madison
N. Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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Discussion Comments


@BrickBack - I heard that too. I understand that you could either have a history teacher education degree or a history teacher certification which are really the history teacher requirements.

I know that if you go for the history teacher certification you have to also take some education classes and opt for a certification exam. I know that the history teach salary is really about the same as the other subjects that are taught the only difference is that history teachers with advanced degrees like a Masters or a doctorate usually get paid more and if you reach the doctorate level and are teaching at an elementary or high school level then you would probably be able to be the head of the department and manage the other history teachers at the school.

I don’t think that a high school history teacher salary is any higher than the elementary school teacher’s salary. I think that the salary is based on the type of advanced degree that the teacher has.


I always loved history. It was actually one of my favorite subjects in school. I would imagine that being a teacher focused on history would be fascinating.

Unfortunately there are not too many history teacher jobs because those positions fill up rather quickly. I have a friend that has her history teacher certification which really involved thirty credits in the subject because she had a Bachelor’s degree in another subject and she said that finding a teaching position related to teaching history or social studies is hard to find.

She said that the teachers that are in most demand are the math and science teachers as well as the special education teachers.

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