High School Chemistry Teacher: Job Info & Requirements

Mar 26, 2019

A chemistry teacher presents concepts related to chemistry to high school students in public or private schools. Read further details about this profession to decide whether it's the right one for you.

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Career Definition for a High School Chemistry Teacher

The duties of a chemistry teacher include creating lesson plans, preparing and delivering lectures, creating and supervising laboratory activities for students, evaluating student performance, maintaining classroom records, meeting with parents, teachers and other professionals and participating in campus events. Depending upon the expectations of the employing school, additional research, supervisory or organizational duties may also be required of a chemistry teacher.

Education Bachelor's degree in chemistry and teaching certification
Job Skills Enthusiasm for science, ability to inspire students, creative thinking, problem solving, time management
Median Salary (2017)* $59,170 (secondary school teachers, except special and career/technical education)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 8% growth (high school teachers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Typically, a bachelor's degree in chemistry and certification to teach in high school, sometimes referred to as a single-subject certification, is necessary for teaching chemistry. These two requirements, as well as a semester of student-teaching, are usually completed simultaneously. Licensing is required by all states to teach in the public school system; however, it is not needed for private schools. Because requirements vary, potential students need to contact the Board of Education within the state where they will be teaching.

Required Skills for a Chemistry Teacher

Arguably, the most important duo of skills for a chemistry teacher is enthusiasm for science and the ability to inspire the same enthusiasm in high school students. Additional skills necessary for success as a chemistry teacher are creative thinking, problem solving and managing one's time well.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) classified job opportunities for high school teachers to about as fast as the average for all occupations, with 8% growth expected from 2016 to 2026. However, the BLS reported that, due to a shortage of math and science teachers, chemistry teachers should expect good opportunities. In 2017, annual earnings for the majority of secondary school teachers ranged between $39,080 and $95,380, and the median salary was $59,170; however, earning potential for teachers can be increased due to many factors, including need for the subject taught.

Alternate Career Options

Similar career options within this field include:

Postsecondary Teacher

Much faster than average employment growth of 15% was forecast by the BLS for postsecondary teachers, in general, during the decade from 2016-2026. Usually a Ph.D. with a specialization in a specific field of study is required, although positions at community colleges and technical schools may be secured with a master's degree. Research and publication of scholarly works may be required, in addition to teaching vocational or academic subjects to postsecondary students. Salaries vary, depending on subject matter and type of institution; in 2017, the annual median wage for postsecondary chemistry teachers was $77,190, per the BLS.

Chemist and Materials Scientist

Although not necessarily teaching in a classroom, these scientists often direct other scientists and technicians about testing procedures in the course of their work. They study the molecular and atomic levels of substances to develop new products and test those in current use. The annual median salary for this field, in general, was $76,280 in 2017, with materials scientists earning the top wage, according to the BLS. Average job growth of 7% was projected by the BLS from 2016-2026 for chemists and materials scientists.

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