What's the Job Description of a Chemistry Teacher?

Explore the career requirements for chemistry teachers. Get the facts about education and licensure requirements, salary, and potential job growth to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Science, Technology, and International Security degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is A Chemistry Teacher?

Chemistry teachers provide education in this broad subject. For middle and high school students, teachers may offer comprehensive courses that provide an overview of the field, covering basic topics such as atoms, chemical bonding, chemical reactions, gas behavior and acids and bases. At the college level, chemistry courses may be offered in more advanced specialization areas, including organic chemistry, biochemistry, physical chemistry and computational chemistry. At every level, teachers usually deliver the material through a combination of lectures and lab projects. In addition to their teaching duties, college professors are also expected to conduct advanced chemistry research and publish their findings in academic journals. They may also serve as research mentors for chemistry graduate students.

Check out this chart to learn what is expected of chemistry teachers, how to become one, and what you might earn.

Middle School Chemistry Teacher High School Chemistry Teacher Postsecondary Chemistry Teacher
Degree Required Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree Master's degree or Ph.D.
Education Field of Study Chemistry
Secondary education
Chemistry
Secondary education
Chemistry
Training/Certification Required State-approved teacher certification required for public school jobs State-approved teacher certification required for public school jobs None
Key Skills Chemistry knowledge, teach effectively Chemistry knowledge, communicate concepts clearly Advanced chemistry knowledge, teach effectively, research
Job Growth (2014-2024) 6% (for all middle school teachers)* 6% (for all secondary school teachers)* 13% (for all postsecondary teachers)*
Average Salary (2015) $58,760 (for all middle school teachers)* $60,440 (for all secondary school teachers)* $86,070*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Education Do I Need to Become a Chemistry Teacher?

If you want to teach chemistry in college, you need to have a master's degree, preferably in chemistry or a related science field. Some employers may seek professors with a background in teaching as well.

You must have a teaching certificate in order to teach high school or middle school chemistry in a public school. To obtain this certificate, you need a bachelor's degree in chemistry plus a state-specified number of credit-hours in education. You must also pass a state-approved certification test. Most bachelor's degree programs for chemistry teachers include the necessary education courses; some even include certification preparation and testing as part of the program. Although student-teaching is sufficient to meet experience requirements for most secondary school jobs, a few require a year or more of post-graduate experience.

What Skills Do I Need?

To teach well, you need strong oral and written communication skills. You should also be resourceful about locating experts in the field or looking into local museums and colleges to round out your lessons. Good interpersonal skills allow you to work well with superiors, colleagues, students and parents. A passion for science, math and chemistry in particular can improve your career success and prowess in the classroom.

What Would My Duties Be?

As a chemistry teacher, you create and maintain lesson plans with regard to the physical and natural sciences. You work with students in the classroom while marking their work, providing grades and creating progress reports. Chemistry teachers lead classrooms and must keep order over a group of students, but may also meet one-on-one with students or arrange meetings with other administrators as well as parents. Projects, experiments and field trips may factor into a chemistry curriculum; you may need to plan and execute these activities and other extracurricular events.

What Salary Could I Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) reports that the average salary for postsecondary chemistry teachers was $86,070 as of May 2015. The average salary for all middle school teachers at that time was $58,760, while for all secondary teachers it was $60,440.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Another teaching option is a job as an elementary school teacher. These instructors do not usually specialize in a particular topic; instead, they help young children build their thinking and problem solving skills in order to prepare them for future academic success. Like middle and high school jobs, a bachelor's degree and license or certification is required for an elementary school teaching job. An alternative chemistry-related job is work as a professional chemist. Depending on their level of education, trained chemists can find jobs in research institutions, testing laboratories, chemical manufacturing plants and pharmaceutical companies.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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