How to Become a High School Chemistry Teacher: Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a high school chemistry teacher. Research the job description as well as the education and licensing requirements necessary to start a career as a high school chemistry teacher.

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High School Chemistry Teacher

Secondary school chemistry teachers help high school students gain an understanding of chemistry and ready them for college-level coursework. They plan lessons and try to deliver them in an interesting and hands-on manner. Teachers also assign student work, evaluate that work, and assess students' overall progress. High school teachers might be responsible for students in common areas of the school, in addition to the classroom.

Teaching young people of all learning abilities can be challenging, and their work is typically not done when the school day ends. However, watching a student's personal successes within chemistry can be rewarding. These professionals typically work full-time, and most schools offer several breaks during the course of the year. The median annual salary for high school teachers was $57,200 as of May 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Career Requirements

Degree Field Chemistry, plus a teacher education program
Degree Level Bachelor's degree is required; some states require a master's degree following initial certification
Licensure and/or Certification State licensure, commonly called certification, is required
Experience Student teaching internship required
Key Skills Patience, instructional skills, communication skills

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Steps to Become a High School Chemistry Teacher

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Educators at the secondary school level usually major in the particular discipline that they will be teaching. Therefore, you would need a bachelor's degree in chemistry. You must also complete a teacher education program. Teacher education programs may be completed concurrently with the bachelor's degree program or independently after obtaining a bachelor's degree. The program should be accredited by an organization such as the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. When enrolled in college, you have to fulfill a student teaching experience at a local high school.

Success Tip:

Take work as a substitute teacher while in college. While substitute teachers are generally expected to hold at least a bachelor's degree, some counties only require substitute teachers to hold a minimum amount of credit hours from a 4-year university. Working as a substitute teacher could offer the opportunity to gain experience in the classroom and work on the skills needed to be successful as a teacher. Additionally, being a substitute teacher allows you to learn from experienced professionals.

Step 2: Obtain Certification

Apart from a bachelor's degree and student teaching field experience, the rules for certification vary by state. Each state typically evaluates educators through an examination process to confirm they're qualified, but the exams required may differ. After earning a bachelor's degree, completing student teaching, and passing state exams, you should be ready to submit an application for teacher certification. Rules to remain licensed can also vary, but typically require continuing education classes. Some states also expect secondary school chemistry teachers to obtain a master's degree to maintain certification.

Step 3: Complete a Master's Degree

Although education beyond a bachelor's degree is not mandatory in every state, it is something every secondary school chemistry teacher should consider. A 2-year master's degree in either education or chemistry would be appropriate for a high school chemistry teacher. Many master's degree programs are tailored to individuals who have earned bachelor's degrees in chemistry, but are not certified; other programs are for certified teachers who want additional chemistry education. A Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) is a common option for bachelor's degree holders who would like to acquire certification. Sometimes high school chemistry teachers with bachelor's degrees enroll in master's degree programs to further their careers or earn a higher salary, even if their state does not require education beyond a bachelor's degree.

To become a high school chemistry teacher, you'll need at least a bachelor's degree in chemistry, along with student teaching experience, and you'll have to meet any licensing requirements.

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