High School Biology Teacher: Career and Salary Facts
Explore the career requirements for high school biology teachers. Get the facts about education and certification requirements, salary, and potential job growth to determine if this is the right career for you.
What Is a High School Biology Teacher?
High school biology teachers provide instruction in the life sciences for students between ninth and twelfth grades. Through a combination of lectures, lab projects and small group discussions, they teach students about many different subject areas within the broad field of biology, including ecology, botany, zoology, biochemistry and genetics. They also grade assignments and supervise students inside the classroom and in other school settings, such as the cafeteria. At some schools, biology teachers may provide preparation courses for standardized tests, like the AP Biology exam.
The following chart provides an overview of a high school biology teaching career.
|Degree Required||Bachelor's degree; some states require master's degree|
|Education Field of Study||Secondary education with a major in biology|
|Key Responsibilities||Prepare lesson plans, teach classes and labs, evaluate student progress, grade homework and tests|
|Certification||Many states require secondary education/high school certification; state-sponsored general teaching certification may be required|
|Job Growth (2018-2028)||4% growth (for all high school teachers)*|
|Median Salary (2018)||$60,320 (for all high school teachers)*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
How Do I Become a High School Biology Teacher?
To become a high school biology teacher, you can pursue a degree in secondary education. Some states require you to have a bachelor's degree, while others require you to have a master's degree in education. Degree programs in education could train you in curriculum development, student assessment, learning models and theories of pedagogy. Other areas of study could include research in education, student diversity and professional development.
Alternatively, you could pursue a degree in biology instead of a degree in education. A degree in biology could train you in areas like molecular ecology, pathogenic bacteriology, immunology and conservation biology. You could also study pharmacology, insect ecology, wildlife management, biology of cancer and statistics for biology. If you earn a degree in biology instead of in education, you may have to complete an alternative teacher training program after graduation. Such a program is meant for those whose degrees are in the subject they wish to teach but who lack the necessary pedagogical training.
What Are the Job Duties?
As a high school biology teacher, you might be responsible for working with other teachers to develop curricula, enforcing behavioral codes, supervising lab activities, maintaining scientific equipment and developing lesson plans. You may also keep records of grades and attendance, help students with academic or personal problems, develop administrative policies, evaluate students' work, participate in parent-teacher conferences and incorporate multimedia into your lessons and lectures.
How Is the Job Outlook and Pay?
Due to an increase in the general population, the employment rate for secondary teachers was expected to grow 4% between 2018 and 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS also reported that job prospects may be better in rural and urban districts. The median annual salary for secondary teachers was $60,320 as of May 2018. The middle 50% of earners in this field made $47,980-$77,720 (www.bls.gov).
What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?
Individuals who are interested in teaching can also find jobs as elementary or middle school teachers, instructing children between kindergarten and eighth grade. Middle school teachers may specialize in a particular subject, like biology or another science, while elementary school teachers usually provide more generalized instruction to help younger students prepare for future academic success. An alternative option for biology enthusiasts is a job as a zoologist or wildlife biologist. These professionals usually conduct biology-related research; a bachelor's degree is enough for an entry-level job, but higher levels of education may be necessary for more advanced positions.