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Heads up, teachers! By middle school, students are ready to learn how the world works and how to solve problems. That's when science education becomes critical to helping them understand the world they live in through observation and experimentation. Unfortunately, there aren't enough qualified middle school science teachers to help fuel their curiosities and inspire their interest in space science, earth sciences, life sciences, chemistry, and physics.
With today's heavy focus on the importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) in elementary and middle school curriculums, it's a great time to acquire the specialized knowledge to become a science teacher. In fact, there's a national initiative (100Kin10) to recruit, prepare, and retain 100,000 STEM teachers by 2021.
Graduate programs in science education are available for licensed teachers who have a bachelor's degree and are ready to take their careers to the next level. Start by earning your master's degree with a middle school certification in science built into the curriculum. You'll study basic science principles, physical sciences, life sciences, Earth and space sciences, and the role of science and technology and their impact on society. Once you've mastered a comprehensive understanding of content that middle school science teachers are expected to know and understand, you'll be on your way to inspiring America's next generation of engineers, space explorers, computer scientists ... or science teachers!
With a master's degree, a background in general science, and the knowledge and skills to inspire young minds, becoming a science teacher can be a very satisfying career in and of itself. It might even put you on track to pursue a position such as school principal, instructional coordinator, or other career in K–12 education.
But what if your passion for a particular area of science such as ecology, energy, or chemistry evolves into a desire to pursue a professional interest beyond the classroom walls? The good news is that continuing your education makes almost anything possible in today's world. With a scientific background and the right academic credentials, the career possibilities are many:
According to the EnCorps STEM Teachers Program, there is a crisis-level shortage of science and math teachers in American schools, and the demand is so high, teachers often teach outside of their areas of expertise. This, coupled with a national initiative to recruit, prepare, and retain 100,000 STEM teachers by 2021, has created an unprecedented opportunity for today's middle school teachers to update their credentials with the science knowledge and teaching skills to mold the minds of the next generation.
Why is the sky blue? How deep is the ocean? What is renewable energy? As a middle school science teacher, these are the kinds of questions you'll be confronted with on a daily basis. Your students will be curious about how the world works, and your responsibility will be to supply their inquisitive minds with relevant information to spur their enthusiasm for learning more.
Beyond conducting experiments and devising interesting lesson plans, your day-to-day activities will also include time before and after classes meeting with parents, students, and other teachers. You may also spend time on evenings and weekends grading papers, broadening your understanding of the latest developments in science and technology, and thinking of new ways to teach science that are accurate, meaningful, and engaging.
If you’re a licensed teacher with a bachelor's degree ready to leverage your interest in science with the growing demand for qualified science teachers, these organizations offer a wealth if information, resources, and support.
The nationwide shortage of middle school science teachers is creating thousands of opportunities for those with the knowledge, skills, and credentials to make a difference in school districts across America. Check out some of the current opportunities!
There's often a direct correlation between your level of education and the salary you can expect to earn as a middle school science teacher. Increasingly, school districts are seeking candidates with advanced degrees and are paying them more than job seekers with bachelor's degrees. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates middle school teachers with a bachelor's degree, including science teachers, earned a median annual wage of $56,000 in 2013. However, their counterparts with master's degrees earned $68,000, a significant 28% premium for their advanced knowledge and credentials.
Clearly, in this day and age, a science teacher's salary can benefit from having an advanced degree on the resume. It pays to continue your education, because the more you know, the higher your salary can go!
99% of the teachers surveyed say that ‘effective and engaged’ teachers are absolutely essential or very important to ensuring student academic achievement."
According to National Academies reports, in the crucial middle-school preparatory years, 93 percent of fifth- through eighth-graders are being taught physical sciences by teachers with no physical science degree or certificate. That's remarkable ... and unacceptable. It also presents a huge opportunity if you're ready to take your current teaching career and turn it up a degree. If you have a love of science and passion for teaching, America's future generations of engineers, environmentalists, oceanographers, and computer scientists need you. Think about becoming a middle school science teacher!
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