K-12 Education

What it is

Teaching humanities or social science subjects to children and youths in formal K-12 school settings, and less obviously, participating in the K-12 education process from outside the classroom, such as through tutoring, teacher professional development or curriculum development.

Starting points

With experience teaching kids, and geographical flexibility, a humanities or social science PhD can get a teaching job in an independent/private school. With extra credentialing, one can also teach in public schools. Charter schools are founded on models that can be like private or like public schools, so requirements can vary accordingly. Depending on your geographical area, you may be given an emergency credential if your subject is in demand. Tutoring provides yet another starting point: you can work for a tutoring company, or freelance. Some organized homeschooling families hire freelance teachers to teach small groups of students of multiple ages.


Though salaries tend to be modest, with successful performance, teachers can move up through multiple pay grades and can eventually become head of their department, a humanities or social science curriculum coordinator, or with still more credentialing, perhaps ultimately Principal or Head of School. Teachers do have school vacations and holidays off (although that varies by school).


All humanities and social science disciplines are welcome in the K-12 world.

Personality and outlook

Obviously you must really enjoy teaching kids and youths! And you must be versatile because you will probably teach subjects other than your own. Extroversion is extremely helpful because no matter what your exact role, you will constantly be interacting with students, parents and colleagues. Still, some introverts find ways to make it work.


Seek out paid and volunteer experiences that involve this kind of teaching. Take a child development course or two. Do informational interviews and classroom observations with humanities or social studies teachers in your local area. Inquire about subbing. Learn about the hiring processes of public and private schools.

Real Life Examples