There are many reasons why someone might decide to pursue becoming a high school teacher. Almost every one of us has had an inspirational instructor who contributed to the person who we are at this moment. We never forget the influence that these people have in our lives either. If someone were to ask you who the most important teachers were in your life, there is an excellent chance that you could name several of them right off the top of your mind.
Many of today’s teachers say that this is the impact that they want to make on the next generation of children. Just as there are excellent teachers who provide us with fantastic learning opportunities, there are several perks to this career option that make becoming a high school teacher a fun and possibly lucrative position.
You will discover that there is a lot of flexibility in this job, even if you are teaching classes based on a rigid schedule. High school teachers have the ability to put their curriculum on hold to make sure that each student understands the concepts being taught. You get to be the example of wisdom and compassion in a child’s life when they are away from home.
Here are some more of the critical pros and cons to consider if you are thinking about being a high school teacher one day.
List of the Pros of Being a High School Teacher
1. Your job schedule can be a significant advantage.
The job schedule of a high school teacher can be a major advantage if you enjoy having some time off during the summer. Even if you consider the extra hours that teachers work during the school year, you will still earn a full-time wage without putting in the same number of hours that most other jobs require. You also receive time during Thanksgiving, the winter holidays, and a week during the spring to enjoy.
That means you have some extra time to spend with your family and friends that would not be possible in other educational positions. Some teachers even decide to pursue a summer job or a favorite hobby as a way to re-charge between each school year.
2. It is easier to raise a family with the schedule of a high school teacher.
Once your children reach school age, then your schedule as a high school teacher becomes very similar to what your kids will follow in the district. There might be an hour’s difference if your family is still at an elementary age, but that is still easier to manage than what other parents are forced to juggle with their career responsibilities.
If your school district declares a snow day, then your job as a high school teacher allows you to stay home with your kids instead of taking a sick day or vacation time. That means you are also available for any after-school events, although you may be asked to chaperone some of them during the year.
3. Your job is rarely boring as a high school teacher.
Even if you find yourself teaching the same class seven times per day, each student and period provides a unique experience. Every day will bring its own set of rewards and challenges for you to enjoy or pursue. Because this is a job that you can never really master, the passion which you have for learning is something that you can inspire your students to follow as well. There are always new ways to present information, integrate new technologies, and pursue moments of professional development.
When you work as a high school teacher, you are following a career path where the learning never really stops.
4. There are positive experiences for you to find every day.
When you start working as a high school teacher, then you will discover that even the most challenging of days can still provide you with some positive experiences. You can have confidence in knowing that this career choice gives you a daily opportunity to help someone improve their life in some way. As former First Lady Laura Bush said once, the rewards which are available to you as a teacher are far greater than any challenges you face because you are given an opportunity to help children achieve their dreams.
5. You are going to make a positive difference in the lives of your students.
Your role as a high school teacher puts you into a unique position. It is one where your expertise can become a guiding light to a student who is struggling in the darkness. Although some adults take advantage of the situation for their own selfish needs, today’s teens will remember the positive impact you made on their lives for decades to come. There are going to be moments when you make a mistake or a lesson plan does not go as intended, but you will still find moments of epiphany waiting for you every day if you are willing to look hard enough for them.
6. Your income will continue to climb as a teacher.
Although being a high school teacher will not usually put you onto a financial path where you become a multimillionaire, you will earn a steady income in most school districts. When you consider the yearly increases that are available, wage hikes that come from your ongoing education, and other bonuses or incentives that may be available, you are salary will typically take an upward trajectory over time.
Even though your paychecks might seem small sometimes, the average public school teacher in the United States earns about 11% more than the average worker.
7. The benefits package that you receive is usually excellent as a high school teacher.
Working as a high school teacher will give you access to a unique set of retirement benefits in the United States. You can save more of your salary into a tax-advantage plan thanks to the structure of savings that are only permitted for positions like this one. If you were to save the maximum each year, then the amount you could stash away would be double of what the average American can manage. You will also receive an extensive health care package, vacation benefits, life insurance, sick time, and other perks that are typical of the general employment experience.
8. You have a reasonably high level of job security in this career.
Although the requirements are different in each state, you are almost guaranteed to have work available when you establish a reputation as being an excellent high school teacher. Downsizing can happen in some communities as families move away, but that just means you can move to a different school district to start teaching again. You will face layoffs much less often when you pursue an educational career, and even if they do happen, you can always transition to a different teaching job outside of high school sometimes.
9. You have the opportunity to do things differently.
Think back for a moment to the time when you were in high school. What were some of the things that you didn’t like about the experience? Where there some struggles in the classroom that a teacher might have been able to fix for you?
When you decide to be a high school teacher, then this is an opportunity for you to make the changes in your classroom that you would’ve liked to have seen when you were a teen. You get to decide how much time you spent listening, offering second chances, and incorporating the positive changes that can make a real difference in the lives of your students.
10. This job allows you to change the future of education.
Over the past 20 years in the United States, politicians have tried to put their fingerprints on the nation’s educational institutions as a way to make learning relevant while leaving behind a legacy of their work. None of their efforts matter if good teachers are not in high schools helping to instruct a specific curriculum well communicating their passion for learning. This career opportunity gives you a real chance to change the future.
List of the Cons of Being a High School Teacher
1. You must be diligent about your financial situation as a high school teacher.
Most school districts do not pay their teachers during the summer break. That means you will earn the entirety of your salary during the regular school year. You will need to set enough money aside during the year to make it through the summer if you don’t want to work a part-time job. Even when you take enough time to plan your savings strategy, an emergency expense could quickly wipe away what you have without another chance for a paycheck until the start of the school year.
Some school districts even reduce the amount of wages you receive during the months or pay periods where there is an extended holiday break. This disadvantage does not always apply, so you will want to check with your school district about their payment schedule to see if you can still get a check during the summer.
2. There are some students who you will struggle to reach.
You will also find that there are some students who do not have a passion for learning, even though you are ripping your hair out trying to find a way to reach them. There are plenty of a-ha moments which are exceptionally rewarding when you work as a high school teacher, but there are also times when you will stay up late at night because you are frustrated about how one of your students chooses to perform in your classroom.
It is essential to remember that you are building a platform of learning for your students as a high school teacher. You can show these teens the way, but you cannot force them to follow the path.
3. Your job requires a high level of commitment.
Do you remember the feeling that you had when you were in school when you knew that the bell was about to ring? That was a signal which said you were going to get to go home and enjoy the rest of the afternoon. When you start working as a high school teacher, it is nice to have the summers off. What many people do not realize is that your job requires you to report early to school and stay late most days.
Teachers are also the most likely profession in the United States to take work home with them each night. You have lessons to plan, papers to grade, and essays to review for up to seven different classes if you work in the typical high school schedule. There are times when there just isn’t enough minutes in the day to get everything done.
4. The pay scale is less than competitive in many American markets.
People do not choose a career as a high school teacher because their ambition is to become wealthy. You get into this job because you want to make a positive influence in the lives of children in your community. When you compare the work that is necessary of a good teacher; however, the wages you earn are not reflective of the responsibilities you have. The median salary in the United States is about $55,000, which is the average income for all careers in the country. When you consider all of the unpaid hours you work completing mandatory tasks, the per-hour rate that you earn can be less than minimum wage. There are even unpaid conferences and training opportunities that you must sometimes attend when you choose this career option.
5. Your working conditions can sometimes be challenging as a high school teacher.
High school teachers are sometimes required to take disciplinary actions towards the teens who are disruptive in the classroom. Many people who choose this career option also feel like it is their responsibility to take action if they believe that a child is in trouble in their home. There are a surprisingly significant number of families in each community who are facing severe problems every day.
You are going to encounter issues of poverty, hunger, and abuse with your role as a high school teacher. When you are dealing with a large class size, up to seven periods per day, and a shifting calendar, it can be challenging to stay in control of each student relationship.
6. High school teachers are at an increased risk of targeted violence.
According to information provided by the American Psychological Association, 10% of teachers in the K-12 educational system in the United States report that they have been threatened with injury by one of their students in the past year. 6% of teachers even said that they had been physically assaulted by one of their kids.
20% of the teachers who say that they were the victim of a physical attack, threat of violence, or verbal abuse did not report the incident to their school administrators. 14% even said that they didn’t tell their colleagues what happened.
7. Teachers are under high levels of scrutiny in the United States.
When you work as a high school teacher, then you will find out very quickly that this career option will place you under a lot of scrutiny. Because children in the United States are lagging behind the rest of the world with their academic achievement scores, your work could be evaluated based on the way your students perform on test instead of the way they perform in class.
Testing intelligence is sometimes the only consideration of a school district when they are trying to achieve specific metrics or standards for funding. Creative or emotional intelligence is not even part of the educational package in some circumstances. This structure can make it very difficult to get your work done when a student requires an alternative form of learning.
Are You Ready to Become a High School Teacher?
Malala Yousafzai is attributed to the following quote: “One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world.” When you decide to pursue a career as a high school teacher, then no one really knows where your influence will eventually stop.
Here is a case in point. The most influential teacher in my life was our music instructor in high school. His name was Mr. Dann. Not only have I put the lessons he taught me into the pieces like this which discuss the pros and cons of various subjects, but it has also been something that I have shared in leadership conferences, conversations with extended family, and many other elements of life.
His words of inspiration continue to echo through time as others share them as well. The pros and cons of being a high school teacher should focus on this one element. Your goal is to make the life of each student better in some way every day. Even though there are challenges to face during the year, including personal financial issues in some situations, you will still find a treasure trove of rewards waiting to be discovered. Now is the perfect time to go find them.
Crystal Lombardo has been a staff writer for Future of Working for five years. She is a proud veteran and mother. If you have any questions about the content of this blog post, then please send our editor-in-chief a message here.