Become a Science Teacher: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a science teacher. Research the job description and the education and licensing requirements to find out how to start a career as a science teacher. View article »

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  • 0:00 Should I Become a…
  • 0:53 Career Requirements
  • 1:37 Earn a Bachelor's Degree
  • 3:01 Get a Teaching License
  • 3:49 Complete a Master's Degree

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Video Transcript

Should I Become a Science Teacher?

Individuals who wish to specialize in science will probably choose to teach in either middle school or high school, since most elementary teachers provide instruction in all content areas. Teachers organize lesson plans, usually according to a state or national curriculum guide. They then present the lessons in an engaging manner and assign corresponding student work and projects. Teachers evaluate student work on a regular basis and on a state-mandated schedule.

In college, individuals can complete teacher-training classes and obtain a bachelor's degree in one of the physical sciences. Teachers must also pass specified examinations and acquire state teacher certification before applying for a job. Some states may require educators to earn a master's degree following certification.

Career Requirements

Median Salary (2015) $56,310 (for all secondary school teachers, except special and career/technical education)
$54,940 (for all middle school teachers, except special and career/technical education)
Degree Level Bachelor's degree required, some states require a master's degree
Degree Field Education in a specific scientific field
Licensure or Certification Teacher certification required
Experience Student teaching internship required
Key Skills Patience; instructional and communication skills

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Science teachers may either major in science or in a single specific branch of the sciences. Biology, chemistry, earth sciences, and physics are some of the usual subject areas studied in elementary, middle, and secondary schools. Numerous colleges and universities include education as a major. Science teachers can major in education, but can also minor in education and major in a science field. Teacher education programs may be completed concurrently with the bachelor's degree program or separately after obtaining a bachelor's degree. Education programs include classes in instructional techniques, child development, and the philosophy and psychology of learning. While enrolled in a college or university, a potential science teacher will have to carry out an internship or supervised work program at a local school. One should seek a program accredited by an organization such as the National Council for Accreditation of Science Teachers.

Success Tip:

Work as a substitute teacher while in college. Having a job as a substitute teacher enables you to acquire practical experience in the classroom. It can also cultivate the skill set required to be successful as a teacher, such as sound communication and classroom management. Working as a substitute teacher also allows aspiring educators to learn from experienced professionals.

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Step 2: Get a Teaching License

Licensing, also known as certification, is normally necessary to teach in a public school. Public school teachers at all grade levels are required to fulfill specific guidelines instituted by their state's Board of Education and pass a licensing exam to receive a teaching license. Besides a bachelor's degree and student teaching field experience, the criteria for certification varies by state. After completing a bachelor's degree program, student teaching and passing any professional exams dictated by his or her state, one should be able to submit an application for teacher certification. Regulations to remain licensed can also differ, but can incorporate continuing education coursework. Some states also expect science teachers to acquire a post-baccalaureate degree.

Step 3: Complete a Master's Degree

Future educators with an undergraduate degree in physical science or a non-education field may need to take additional coursework in education before seeking their teaching credential. Even though this is not a must in every state, it is something all science teachers should consider. Master's degree programs require about two years to finish, and one will receive a master's degree in either a science field or education, depending on the program. A variety of master's degree programs are available for those who have earned a bachelor's degree in a science field but are not certified, or for educators certified in different subjects who desire a science certification. Sometimes science teachers with bachelor's degrees enroll in a master's degree program to advance in their careers, even though their state does not demand education beyond a bachelor's degree.

Success Tip:

Consider national certification. While not considered necessary by all states, teachers can earn professional certification in their particular discipline. National certification grants science teachers the opportunity to showcase their knowledge and proficiency. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) offers certification in both early adolescent and young adult science instruction. According to the NBPTS, criteria include three years of teaching experience along with a valid teaching license.

Obtaining a bachelor's degree in a science-related field, securing a teacher's license, and then obtaining your master's degree is a great way to secure a position as a science teacher.

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