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Molecules and bonding. Atomic structure. Energy and thermodynamics. If you have a background in science and a passion for examining how the world around us works like one big science experiment, maybe you're an ideal candidate to become a chemistry teacher. Elementary and high school chemistry teachers have a tremendous effect on shaping the future of tomorrow's scientists, engineers, healthcare professionals and many others. And, because about 70% of American high school students are taking Advanced Placement and other chemistry classes, more chemistry teachers are needed across the United States, according to the American Chemical Society.
If you have up-to-date knowledge in general science and advanced physics and develop the skills that enable teachers to perform effectively in diverse classrooms, you can take advantage of the current need for physics teachers in elementary and high schools across the country. Remember the first time you learned about Newton's laws of motion and how they apply to our everyday lives? Maybe you had a great physics teacher in high school who conducted an experiment demonstrating how Archimedes principle can be used to solve problems of static fluids and fluids in motion. If all this is sparking your imagination, maybe it's time to get scientific about your future – become a physics teacher!
Teaching chemistry is not only a rewarding and meaningful career, it can provide a lot of fascinating fun for both you and your students. Whether you're mixing hydrogen peroxide with potassium iodide or putting out candles with carbon dioxide, chances are some of the most memorable experiments and meaningful experiences at your school will take place in chemistry class. So break out the white lab coat and dust off your Bunsen burner. Future scientists, doctors, engineers and innovators are waiting to be inspired by their middle school and high school chemistry teachers!
Starting your teaching career in the chemistry lab doesn't necessarily mean you'll spend the rest of your life handling beakers and flasks. In fact, you might be surprised to learn that Margaret Thatcher, Frank Capra, Dolph Lundgren, Terrence Howard and Kurt Vonnegut all graduated with chemistry degrees and went on to pursue wildly diverse careers. The point is, while many chemistry teachers love what they do and choose to do it until they retire, some polish up their critical thinking skills and acquired knowledge and pursue entirely new careers in a range of industries, including:
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for middle school and high school teachers is expected to grow about 6% from 2014 to 2024, which is near the average for all occupations. Employment may vary by region. Also, a growing preference for smaller student-teacher ratios is fueling the need for expanded faculties. On top of that, a significant number of older teachers reaching retirement age will create job openings for new teachers as they're hired to replace them.
As with many other occupations, the more education and certifications you have, the better positioned you'll be to take advantage of opportunities in the marketplace.
Most chemistry teachers work in public or private schools. Some work in traditional classrooms, while others spend parts or most of their days in labs. Your daily schedule will include time before and after school to meet with parents, students and other teachers. You may also spend time on evenings and weekends grading papers and preparing your lessons. Some teachers enjoy summers off, while others choose to teach summer programs. If you teach in a school district with a year-round schedule, you'll typically work about 8 weeks, followed by a break before starting a new session. Most schools also have a long, mid-winter break.
Ready to become a chemistry teacher? You'll find lots of professional organizations that offer a wealth of information to help guide your career. Here are a few places to get started.
Across the country, there are lots of great jobs available for chemistry teachers ready to make a difference in the lives of America's youth.
Whether you're teaching middle or high school chemistry, your salary will most likely be related to how much experience you have and the level of education you have achieved. The BLS reports the median annual wage for middle school teachers was $55,860 in May 2015. High school teachers earned slightly more: $57,200. The bottom line is that continuing your education with an advanced degree can positively impact how much you can earn as a teacher.
Breaking down the world around us into its smallest components requires a chain reaction of inspiration and education, starting with your bachelor's degree. Many states now require middle and high school teachers to have a degree with a specific focus in their area of expertise. So if your goal is to become a chemistry teacher, you'd be smart to look for a competency-based degree program designed to prepare teachers to be licensed in teaching grades 5–12. Aside from needing a valid teaching certification or license in the state where you live, it'll also help to have good communication skills, because you'll be discussing your students' needs with their parents as well as school administrators.
Thanks to innovative curriculums that leverage the power and capacity of web-based learning, it's now possible to acquire the knowledge and skills to become a chemistry teacher almost completely online. Some of these innovative curriculums even allow you to complete a sequence of demonstration teaching and in-classroom field experiences (student teaching).
To ensure you receive a quality education that will be recognized once you're ready to apply for your first teaching job, make sure you enroll in a superior program that has received NCATE accreditation, which leads to teacher licensure.
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