How Can I Become a Biology Teacher?

Explore the career requirements for biology teachers. Get the facts about education and licensure requirements, job duties, 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 Biology Teacher?

Biology teachers provide instruction in the life sciences. They may teach at the middle school or the high school level. Because the field of biology is so broad, they may develop and give lessons in a wide range of subfields, including zoology, botany, anatomy, biochemistry, ecology, pathology, taxonomy and genetics. Coursework may be delivered in the form of lab assignments, small group discussions and hands-on labs. At the high school level, biology teachers may be responsible for preparing advanced students for standardized tests, such as the AP Biology exam. In addition to instruction, biology teachers may be required to supervise students outside the classroom, such as in the cafeteria, and they may support students in other ways, such as by sponsoring a science club or writing college recommendation letters.

The following chart gives you an overview of a career as a biology teacher.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree; master's degree may be required
Education Field of Study Biology
Key Skills Organizational skills; good written and verbal communication skills; creativity and resourcefulness; patience
Licensure Public school teachers must be licensed
Job Growth (2014-2024) 6% (for all high school teachers)*
6% (for all middle school teachers)*
Median Salary (2015) $57,200 (for all secondary school teachers, except special and career/technical education)*
$55,860 (for all middle school teachers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Degree Options for Biology Teachers

Two routes to becoming a biology teacher are to enroll in a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) in Biology or a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Biology, followed by a post-bachelor's teacher certification program in secondary education. In the first option, your biology education is combined with coursework in curriculum and instruction and a student teaching internship will be the final piece of the puzzle. In the second option, the bachelor's degree program focuses solely on biology and the post-bachelor's program includes the teaching internship. Because some states require teachers to hold graduate degrees, you might want to continue your education by enrolling in a master's degree program in education or biology.

Complete Your Student Teaching Semester

When you reach the student teaching phase of your degree program, your school will make arrangements for you to work in a classroom under the supervision of a licensed teacher. At first, you'll assist a teacher with duties like handing out assignments, making copies of homework sheets and study materials, grading papers and participating in learning activities. As you progress through the semester you will gradually take on more responsibilities and eventually teach classes without the help of the teacher. Your professors will closely monitor your teaching internship and, if convinced that you are qualified to teach, will recommend you for certification.

Get a Teaching License

Biology teachers in secondary schools are required by law to be licensed by their state. After you complete a bachelor's degree or teacher certification program, you can take the Praxis I and II exams, which all states use to assess a teacher's proficiency. The first exam is used to show your skills in general subjects and the second exam is to test your ability to teach biology. You'll need to pay the licensing fees; a criminal background check is also required. Some states might also require you to take other assessment exams or complete additional college courses.

Search for a Teaching Job

First, you'll need a professional resume that lists your job history, education, teaching experience, technical skills and accomplishments. It could also help to have affiliations with professional organizations that focus on education or biology; this shows employers that you are dedicated to teaching and professional development. You could start your job search by visiting school district websites, or websites dedicated exclusively to posting teaching jobs. Be sure to have your teaching credentials in order because schools will request college transcripts, Praxis exam scores and licensing credentials.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Trained teachers may look for middle and high school teaching jobs in other scientific subjects, such as chemistry, physics, math and environmental science. Another option is a teaching job at the elementary school level. Rather than focusing on a specific subject, elementary school teachers provide more general education with the goal of helping young children develop basic problem-solving and communication skills. The educational requirements for elementary school teachers are generally the same as for middle and high school biology teachers. Another related option is a supervisory job as a school principal, but it is important to note that these professionals usually need to have previous teaching experience and a master's degree.

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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