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Science Teacher Career Guide

How to Become a Science Teacher

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. find a love for science and learn vital lessons about how the world 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. 

Will There Be Teaching Jobs When Schools Reopen

What Is a Science Teacher?

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.

What Does a Science Teacher Do?

Science teachers have many important elements of their job description. They:

  • Create lesson plans for students every day, based on 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 that help students learn.
  • Write and grade tests and quizzes that help evaluate student learning.
  • Prepare students for standardized tests.
  • Develop a curriculum with other teachers in their department.
  • Create a safe environment where students feel confident learning.
  • Work with students and their parents to resolve concerns, answer questions, and address issues.
  • Continue their own learning by attending conferences and workshops to learn more about science and about education as a whole.

 

Science Concepts Taught by Grade.

Elementary

While some may refer to these areas of study as botany, biology, and meteorology, often general science teaching at the elementary school level is all wrapped into social or earth science and explained in simpler terms. Foundational elements in each subject are taught. Elementary school students learn about the following in science:

  • Basic observations and experiments
  • The water cycle
  • Rocks
  • Plants 
  • Animals
  • Weather

Middle School

Middle school students learn about a number of different scientific areas of study. Often multiple concepts are grouped into one class. For instance, students may have an earth science class that touches on areas of chemistry, physics, and geology. In general, it is common for middle school students to gain a basic to intermediate understanding of the following sciences and skills:

  • The scientific method
  • Cause and effect
  • Matter and energy
  • Basic genetics 
  • Basic physics
  • Basic biology
  • Basic chemistry

High School

High school students build on the knowledge they gained at the middle school level. The classes are also more advanced, giving students the analytical skills needed for the ACT and SAT. Science courses in high school also tend to be more centralized within one scientific discipline. For instance, you’ll see chemistry, biology, and physics as standalone courses instead of integrated with other subjects into generalized classes. Many high schools offer both AP and non-AP courses in Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. Common high school science courses include:

  • Biology 
  • AP Biology
  • Chemistry
  • AP Chemistry
  • Physics
  • AP Physics
  • Geology
  • Environmental Science
  • AP Environmental Science

How Do I Become a Science Teacher?

To become a science teacher, you’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree. It’s important to know that there are different educational degree requirements for different levels of teachers. For example, if you want to be an elementary science teacher, you may pursue a general elementary education degree, which would vary from the degree a prospective high school teacher would earn.

Education to become an elementary school science teacher

Elementary teachers just need an elementary education degree to be prepared to teach K-6 students. They must be ready to teach all subjects to young students on a daily basis.

Education to become a middle school science teacher

Middle school teachers 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 rather prepares graduates to teach 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 to be qualified to teach middle school-aged students

Education to become a high school science teacher

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 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’s required to become a teacher, many teachers see great benefits from 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. These master’s degrees can help teachers stand out from the competition, be eligible for raises and promotions, and enhance their careers.

Best Degrees for Science Teachers

Science Education (Middle Grades) – B.S.

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for...

An online teaching degree and teacher...

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for aspiring middle school science teachers. Leads to teaching license in all states that have a middle-grades general science teaching license.

Specific grade levels you are qualified to teach will vary depending on teaching certification in your state.

  • Time: 69% of grads earned this science teaching degree within 36 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,770 per 6-month term, plus a one-time fee of $350 to cover the cost of an at-home science lab.

Candidates for this online science teaching degree often include:

  • Aspiring junior high or middle school science teachers who currently lack a teaching license
  • Substitute teachers
  • Career-changers with a passion for science
  • School paraprofessionals
  • Others who feel the call to teach

This science teaching degree program includes coursework in the following areas: general education, foundations of teaching, science, mathematics, pedagogy, science education, field experience, and a teacher performance assessment. It requires in-classroom observation and a term of full-time demonstration teaching.

Science Education (Secondary Physics) – B.S.

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for...

An online teaching degree and teacher...

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for aspiring middle or high school physics teachers.

Leads to teacher licensure. Specific grade levels will vary depending on teaching license options in your state.

  • Time: 67% of grads earned this online physics degree within 36 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,770 per 6-month term, plus a one-time fee of $350 to cover the cost of an at-home science lab.

Candidates for this online teaching degree often include:

  • Aspiring junior high or high school physics teachers who currently lack a teaching license
  • Substitute teachers
  • Career-changers with a passion for physics
  • School paraprofessionals
  • Others who feel the call to teach

This physics teaching degree program includes online courses in the following areas: general education, foundations of teaching, general science, mathematics, physics, pedagogy, and science education. It requires in-classroom observation and a term of full-time demonstration teaching. Graduates of this online teaching degree program will be eligible for teaching certification.

Science Education (Secondary Biological Science) – B.S.

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for...

An online teaching degree and teacher...

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for aspiring middle or high school biology teachers.

Leads to teacher licensure. Specific grade levels will vary depending on licensure in your state.

  • Time: 76% of grads earned this online biology degree within 42 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,770 per 6-month term, plus a one-time fee of $350 to cover the cost of an at-home science lab.

Candidates for this online teaching degree often include:

  • Aspiring junior high or high school biology teachers who currently lack a teaching license
  • Substitute teachers
  • Career-changers with a passion for biology
  • School paraprofessionals
  • Others who feel the call to teach

This biology teaching degree program includes online courses in the following areas: general education, foundations of teaching, general science, mathematics, biology, pedagogy, and science education. It requires in-classroom observation and a term of full-time demonstration teaching.

Science Education (Secondary Earth Science) – B.S.

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for...

An online teaching degree and teacher...

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for aspiring middle or high school earth science teachers.

Leads to teacher licensure. Specific grade levels will vary depending on teaching license options in your state.

  • Time: 69% of grads earned this middle school teaching and high school teaching degree within 42 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,770 per 6-month term, plus a one-time fee of $350 to cover the cost of an at-home science lab.

Candidates for this science teaching degree program often include:

  • Aspiring junior high or high school geoscience teachers who currently lack a teaching license
  • Substitute teachers
  • Career-changers with a passion for earth science
  • School paraprofessionals
  • Others who feel the call to teach

This geosciences teaching degree program includes online courses in the following areas: general education, foundations of teaching, general science, mathematics, earth sciences, pedagogy, and science education. It requires in-classroom observation and a term of full-time demonstration teaching. This high school teaching degree program prepares you for teaching licensure in any of the 50 states.

Science Education (Secondary Chemistry) – B.S.

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for...

An online teaching degree and teacher...

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for aspiring middle or high school chemistry teachers.

Leads to teacher licensure. Specific grade levels will vary depending on licensure in your state.

  • Time: 71% of grads earned this online chemistry degree within 42 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,770 per 6-month term, plus a one-time fee of $350 to cover the cost of an at-home science lab.

Candidates for this online chemistry degree program often include:

  • Aspiring junior high or high school chemistry teachers who currently lack a teaching license
  • Substitute teachers
  • Career-changers with a passion for chemistry
  • School paraprofessionals
  • Others who feel the call to teach

This chemistry teaching degree program includes online classes in the following areas: general education, foundations of teaching, general science, mathematics, chemistry, pedagogy, and science education. It requires in-classroom observation and a term of full-time demonstration teaching. Earn a chemistry degree online and be eligible for a teaching certification.

Teaching, Science Education (Secondary) – M.A.

An online master's teaching degree and teacher certification...

An online master's teaching degree and teacher...

An online master's teaching degree and teacher certification program for aspiring middle or high school science teachers who already have a bachelor's degree in a non-teaching field.

Leads to teacher licensure. Specific grade levels will vary depending on licensure in your state.

  • Time: 69% of graduates finish this secondary science teaching degree within 18 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,935 per 6-month term.

Candidates for this high school teaching degree program often include:

  • Aspiring junior high and high school science teachers who currently hold a bachelor's degree but lack a teaching license
  • Substitute teachers
  • Career-changers with a passion for science
  • School paraprofessionals
  • Others who feel the call to teach

This graduate-level secondary science teaching program includes the following areas of coursework: foundations of teaching, science education, pedagogy, field experience, research, and a teacher performance assessment. It requires in-classroom observation and a term of full-time demonstration teaching. You'll be prepared to teach in middle school or high school settings, based on teaching certification in your state.


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What Skills Does a Science Teacher Need?

Science teachers should be good at making complex topics relatable to students. They should also be skilled at problem-solving, able to work with students of varying personalities, and effective at demonstrating concepts through experiments and hands-on activities. It’s especially critical for a science teacher to be able to maintain control of their classroom because science experiments can involve potentially hazardous situations and materials.

There are several other soft skills science teachers need to succeed, including patience, the ability to correct disruptive student behavior, and the tact to work with a specific age group. Teachers of younger students need to help engage students, work in shorter class periods, and work to help students behave respectfully in class. Teachers of older students will work with students who are older and preparing for college. These teachers help with critical preparation such as the SAT, ACT, and AP tests. These teachers can also help students find a passion for a scientific subject that could lead to a career choice down the road. 

How Much Does a Science Teacher Make?

$62,870

-High school science teachers make an average of nearly 63,000 per year

-Middle school teachers can expect to earn a similar average annual salary of $60,810 per year

-Elementary school teachers make less on average, with salaries coming in at around $60,660 per year.

What Is the Projected Job Growth?

8%

The job outlook for science teachers is strong. At the high school level, the market is projected to grow at 8% from 2020 to 2030. This aligns with the average for other jobs. The elementary school level follows suit, with a 7% projected growth over the same period. The same trend is true for middle school science teachers.

Do I Need a Certification to Become a Science Teacher?

Yes

Every science teacher must be certified to teach in their respective state. To become certified you’ll need a certain number of hours of demonstration teaching. You’ll also need to be familiar with any other specific licensing and certification requirements in your specific state. It’s likely you’ll need to pass the Praxis exam and subject assessment. You should also be ready for a detailed background check. Our teaching programs will help you prepare to earn your teaching license and certification regardless of which state you’re teaching in.

Interested in Becoming a Science Teacher?

Learn more about degree programs that can prepare you for this meaningful career.

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