How Do I Become a Science Teacher?

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue as a science teacher. Read on to learn more about career options along with salary and licensure information. Schools offering Teaching - Math & Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Science Teacher?

Science teachers teach science subjects -- like biology, chemistry and physics -- to students in middle school and high school. At the middle school level, they may teach general science courses that cover multiple topics within this broad field. At the high school level, teachers may specialize in a particular scientific subject, and they may also teach courses in particular subfields, such as ecology, anatomy or zoology. They commonly combine lectures, textbook readings and lab experiments to get the material across to students; sometimes, they design curricula that include outdoor field observations. In addition to providing direct instruction in scientific fields, science teachers supervise students in the classroom and in other settings, like the cafeteria. They may also provide additional student support, such as by sponsoring a science club, organizing a school science fair or writing college recommendation letters.

The following chart gives you an overview about entering this field.

Middle School Science TeacherHigh School Science Teacher
Degree Required Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Science, education Major in science, minor in secondary education
Key Responsibilities Prepare lesson plans and teach science classes; supervise students in classroom and other school areas; grade student homework and tests; conduct conferences with parents Prepare lesson plans, including labs; teach classes and lead lab procedures and experiments; grade student school work, labs and tests; conference with parents regarding student progress and conduct
Licensure and/or Certification Public school teachers must be licensed or certified Public school teachers must be licensed or certified
Job Growth (2014-2024) 6% for all middle school teachers* 6% for all high school teachers*
Median Salary (2015) $55,860 for all middle school teachers* $57,200 for all high school teachers*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Degree Programs for Science Teachers

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that, at the minimum, you'll need to get a bachelor's degree to be a science teacher at middle or secondary schools ( Options include education degrees such as a Bachelor of Science in Science Education, Bachelor of Science in Middle Grades General Science or a Bachelor of Science in Education (B.S.Ed.) with majors in a secondary school science. These degree programs typically incorporate teacher education programs that satisfy certification requirements.

If you want to teach at a high school you could choose a bachelor's degree program in the branch of science you want to teach, such as biology or chemistry. This could be a good option because many schools prefer to hire teachers who have bachelor's degrees in their subject. If you choose this route you'll also have to complete an approved teacher education for program to qualify for your state teaching license.

The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) accredits schools of education and maintains a list of accredited institutions on its website ( An approved teacher education program usually includes a student teaching internship. The BLS reports that some states require teachers to hold master's degrees so you might also want to consider enrolling in a graduate program.

Practice Teaching

You'll get hands-on teaching experience during your student teaching internship. You could be partnered with a science teacher in a middle or secondary school, learning what it's like to manage a classroom and honing your teaching skills. At first, you would be an observer, watching a teacher develop lesson plans, giving lectures and assessing individual student performance. When you're ready, you'll teach classes on your own.

Work Towards Certification

You should check your state's board of education to see what requirements you'll need to meet for certification as a licensed teacher. According to the BLS, all public school teachers in the U.S. need to be licensed. Private schools may hire a teacher who is not licensed, but will still generally require job candidates to have a bachelor's degree.

The path towards certification generally begins with completing an approved teacher education program and taking teacher assessment exams, which assess your teaching abilities. The Praxis II exam is often used to assess a secondary teacher's subject knowledge ( You'll also have to submit your college transcripts, pay certification fees and pass a criminal background check. Some states offer special programs for licensing teachers who haven't fulfilled the usual requirements, especially for hard-to-fill teaching positions.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Individuals who want to work in education may consider a job as a principal or other school administrator. These professionals play leadership roles in schools; duties include managing staff and directing the curriculum to support the academic needs of students. It is important to note that, in addition to a bachelor's degree and licensure, principals need to have a master's degree as well. Another option for individuals who want to share their passion for science is a job as a curator or museum technician at a science museum. They set up exhibits and hold workshops for the public and for school groups. A bachelor's degree is the minimum educational requirement for one of these jobs.

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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