Physics, biology, earth science, chemistry. These science courses are a vital part of education for middle school, junior high, and high school students all around the country. Science teachers are key in helping students around the U.S. learn vital lessons about how the world works, and be find a love of science.
A good science teacher is passionate about their subject and extremely well-versed in it. They enjoy learning more and want to help students not only learn, but understand science. Good teachers are patient, enjoy working with students, and have a commitment to helping students both in learning and with the rigors of school and life. It’s valuable for a good science teacher to be organized and prepared as they likely have many students they need to keep track of, dozens of tests and assignments to grade, and more. Good science teachers are also willing to get hands-on with experiments and projects to help demonstrate to students how science really works.
If you love science and are interested in becoming a teacher, it’s valuable to learn more about your options and get insight into the daily life of a science teacher. Discover how much science teachers earn, what their job responsibilities are, and how you can become one.
Science teachers have many important elements of their job description including:
Create lesson plans for students every day, based around the national and local school standards and curriculum for science education.
Come up with learning activities and experiences that help enhance student learning.
Understand different learning levels and styles for students and work to make lessons and curriculum that will engage diverse learners.
Create assignments and homework for students to learn from.
Write and grade tests and quizzes that help evaluate student learning.
Prepare students for standardized tests.
Develop a curriculum with other teachers in your department.
Create a safe environment where students feel confident learning.
Work with students and their parents about concerns, questions, and issues.
Continue your own learning by attending conferences and workshops to learn more about science and about education as a whole.
There are typically different job descriptions for middle school or junior high science teachers and high school educators. Younger grade teachers often focus on teaching broader scientific concepts and may have shorter class periods to work with. These middle grade science teachers are also often working with much younger students who may have more needs when it comes to understanding how to learn, correcting attitude behaviors, and behaving respectfully in class.
By contrast, high school or secondary science teachers often focus on a specific field of science, such as physics, biology, or chemistry, and really hone in on how these concepts and principles work. They work with students who are older, and are preparing for college. Chemistry and biology teachers are responsible for helping students be prepared for the SAT or ACT exam, AP testing, and other important college preparation. Physics and chemistry foundations may be key for students who want to pursue careers in math or healthcare as well. These teachers can also help students find a passion for a scientific subject that could lead to a career choice down the road.
Whether you are looking for a teaching job focusing on middle grades or high school students, science teachers are key in education as they help students learn about the world around them.
Science teachers tend to make a higher average salary than other kinds of teachers, often because they are in higher demand at schools. But the salary you can earn as a science teacher will greatly depend on where you are teaching, the years of experience you have, and your education.
High school teachers make an average base salary of around $61,000 per year. The lowest 10% of high school teachers earn a salary of around $40,000 per year, with the top 10% earning a salary of more than $99,000 per year. High school educators tend to see higher pay more than other, lower grade teachers because they have to be more skilled in their subject to teach the most advanced elements to students.
Middle school teachers earn an average yearly salary of $59,000 per year. The bottom 10% of middle school teachers earn an average yearly salary of around $36,000 per year, and the top 10% earn a salary of more than $96,000 per year.
Similarly elementary school teachers earn an average salary of $59,000 per year, with the bottom 10% also earning pay of around $36,000 per year and the top 10% earning pay of around $96,000 per year. Elementary school teachers are not specifically specialized in science or in any subject. Rather they learn how to teach all subjects to young students during the course of their day. Elementary education teachers can expected to teach students about the scientific method, climates and weather, photosynthesis, species classification, the food chain, and more.
At the end of the day, the area where you want to teach will be the biggest indicator of salary. Many states have specific pay requirements for teachers so you can know exactly how much you can expect to earn as you gain experience. In education the salary will depend on the school district, the classroom sizes, the subject you teach, and if you're at a public school or a private school. The type of public school where you teach can also greatly impact your pay—for example Title I public school classroom teachers may earn a higher salary due to additional funding their school receives. Teachers at a private school may see higher pay for their job because their school charges tuition instead of relying on funding for income. It's important to research your area when choosing a school and a job to see how the salary looks. Salaries for education jobs are public knowledge, so you can find the pay level relatively quickly.
It’s important to know that there are different educational degree requirements for different kinds of teachers. For example, if you want to be an elementary teacher, your degree will be very different than someone who wants to be a high school teacher.
Elementary teachers just need an elementary education degree and they will then be prepared to teach K-6 students. They need to be prepared to teach all subjects to students on a daily basis to young students.
Middle school teachers will need to earn a middle-school teaching degree in order to be qualified to teach. This kind of teaching degree doesn’t focus on a specific science specialization, but will rather prepare you for broader science concepts and classes. Middle school teachers may teach geosciences, earth sciences, physical science, and other broad subjects that embrace multiple science concepts. Middle school teachers can also earn a secondary education degree in order to be qualified to teach middle school age students.
High school teachers will need a secondary education degree in order to be qualified to teach. Secondary science degrees often focus on a specific science specialization, like biology. These degrees will dive deeper into the concepts of these science subjects to help teachers be ready to work with students on these challenging concepts.
While a bachelor’s degree is all that is required to become a teacher, many teachers see great benefits in earning a master’s degree as well. Teachers can earn a general science master’s degree, or a master’s degree in their chosen subject as well. These master’s degrees can help teachers stand out from the competition, be eligible for raises and promotions, and enhance their career.
All teachers are required to be licensed and certified in order to teach. Every state has unique requirements for their licensure so it’s vital to understand what is required in your state. In most states the requirements involve earning at least a bachelor’s degree, having a certain amount of hours of student teaching in a classroom, and passing a teaching exam. If you are attending WGU, your Program Mentor and other faculty will help you set up demonstration teaching, and understand what you need to do in order to get licensed in your state. WGU teaching programs can help you prepared to be licensed in any state in the U.S. so you will be prepared to teach anywhere!
If you’re considering a future as a science teacher, WGU could be the perfect first step. You can earn your degree in less time and for less money, and get into a classroom as the teacher sooner than you think.