Secondary school teachers (NOC 4031)

High opportunity occupation

About this job

Secondary school teachers prepare and teach academic, technical, career preparation and specialty subjects in secondary schools. This group includes heads of departments.

People in this occupation:

  • work in public and private secondary schools
  • also work in technical institutes, vocational schools and language schools
  • must be resourceful, creative, empathetic patient and highly organized
  • must also have highly developed communication, interpersonal and instruction skills
Common job titles
  • department head, secondary / high school
  • librarian-teacher, secondary / high school
  • reading clinician - secondary school
  • teacher - Aboriginal school community
  • teacher, academic subjects
  • teacher, adult education


Secondary school teachers:

  • prepare and present course material to students, in keeping with an approved curriculum
  • teach students using an organized plan of lectures, classroom discussions, audio-visual presentations, and/or laboratory, shop (workshop) and field studies
  • assign, mark and grade homework and tests
  • check student progress, determine student needs on an individual basis and discuss findings with parents and school officials, as needed
  • may teach and evaluate students through distance or online courses
  • develop and implement special programs for any students requiring remedial help
  • attend staff meetings, educational conferences and teacher training workshops
  • may counsel students on course selection, as well as career prep and personal matters
  • may supervise student teachers

Special duties

Secondary school teachers may specialize in mathematics, English, French, special education or second language instruction or in vocational and trades subjects like hairdressing or auto mechanics.

Work environment

Workers may teach in classrooms, labs, libraries, workshops, gymnasiums and outdoors. They also typically perform other tasks, such as lesson preparation, grading and administrative tasks, outside of regular work hours.

Hours vary depending on time required for lesson preparation, grading, etc. Most teachers work a standard 10-month school year and have time off during school holidays: two months in the summer and time off at Christmas and spring break.

Some aspects of this job can be stressful and working with youth can be challenging. Teachers are required to stand for extended periods of time, which may lead to back problems. Teachers may also develop voice distress. Science labs and workshops can pose various hazards.

Workers increasingly use technology and may use computers for grade calculation, attendance and lesson development.

Insights from industry

Since this is a very large occupational group, many positions are expected.

The expansion of career training has opened up new opportunities for secondary teachers in areas such as business office management, agricultural technology, food services, restaurant and hotel service and management, applied physics, environmental studies, construction, drafting, mechanics, textile and clothing production, health and social services. Individuals who have expertise in these areas will have an advantage when applying for specialty positions.

There is a shortage of trained teachers in some areas of the province (i.e., rural areas), but a surplus of trained teachers in others. Secondary teachers specializing in advanced math, physics, chemistry, French and French immersion tend to be in higher demand throughout B.C. As well, an increasing need for teachers is expected in fields such as business education, technology education, home economics, special needs and ESL.

School districts in northern B.C. frequently have trouble filling general teaching positions, so demand for workers in this region will be higher.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

Recent graduates typically work part time, on-call substituting for regular teachers or on a short-term contract for several years before they are considered for a permanent position. They also usually teach junior level courses.

Graduates with experience and further education may progress to more specialized positions, such as school counsellor or teacher-librarian.

Experienced teachers tend to instruct senior level courses and may take on other responsibilities such as acting as department heads or program coordinators. Other advancement opportunities include promotions to vice-principal or principal, other administrative positions, superintendents or specialists work at the school district level.

Additional resources