Science Teacher Career Outlook & Job Description
A science teacher can be certified to teach middle school, high school or college. At higher grade levels, classes may focus on a specific program such as biology, earth science, animal science, chemistry or physics. Teaching science requires hands-on experiments and investigations and provides students with opportunities to learn science concepts through multimedia materials, field trips, and non-conventional teaching approaches. It is a teacher’s job to implement appropriate science class curriculum and foster an active learning environment which encourages student participation.
Science education should begin with an introduction to basic science-related concepts early in a child’s education. Elementary teachers can instill an appreciation for how and why things work the way they do by creating hands-on learning centers where students use the senses to observe, investigate, and discover. Middle school science is a crucial time for capturing a child’s love for the subject. Earth and life science are the key classroom topics. At this grade level, the majority of science concepts are presented in a laboratory setting. The classroom environment should accommodate both group and individual experiences. High school and college science teachers present complex concepts in instructional and investigational settings. The science lab is used to investigate chemistry, biology, and physics topics. Students are required to understand laboratory safety rules and how to use equipment. Lesson plans should develop an understanding of complex systems, generate new ideas, make predictions, and apply standard scientific law to solve problems.
Science Teacher Requirements and Common Tasks
Science teachers are responsible for preparing class lesson plans based on the current guidelines and grade level. This includes daily instruction outlines, classroom assignments, special projects, homework, and tests. A teacher must update student records to show attendance, grades, and conduct in accordance to school, district, and state policies. A teacher also needs to observe and evaluate each student’s performance. At times, parent and student conferences are conducted to discuss student progress or concerns. A teacher should have excellent written and verbal skills and be able to communicate effectively with students, parents, and colleagues. Science teachers must be detail oriented, effective at problem solving, and have excellent teaching skills. They are also responsible for administering appropriate disciplinary action as allowed by district guidelines. Outside the classroom, school teachers will need to participate in the department and school district meetings. A teacher may also be involved in extracurricular activities, such as athletics and social events.
Education requirements vary with each state; however, a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a science field, plus a teaching certificate, is usually the standard requirement. College level instructors may need a master’s degree or doctorate.
Science Teacher Salary and Job Outlook
Many science teacher jobs should be available to new teachers in the next several years, as employment opportunities for teachers are projected to increase 13 percent through 2018. Teaching job opportunities vary significantly between area and grade level. Rural and inner-city schools will have the greatest demand for qualified educators, because teacher turnover is highest. This high turnover rate is linked to low salary, remote locations, and school budget cuts. Suburban schools have less teacher turnover, but opportunities for skilled teachers are available. The average annual salary for a teacher is between $47,100 and $51,180 as of data gathered in May 2008. The bottom ten percent of teachers earned between $30,970 to $34,280, and the top ten percent made $75,190 up to $80,970. Education, experience, and grade level are the key factors that determine salary.
Science Teacher Interview
See our interview with Meg Jacobson, President of the Colorado Association of Science Teachers for insights on what it is like to teach science, lessons learned from three decades of teaching, and advice for aspiring science teachers.
Top Science Teacher Blogs
Reading blogs by science teachers can provide excellent insights on what it is like to work as a science teacher from the prospective of current science teachers. Our list of Top 50 Science Teacher Blogs provides a resource for learning more about a career in science education and the latest education issues that top science teachers are talking about.
Science Education Teaching Degrees and Programs
- B.A. Science (5-12, Chemistry)
- M.A. Teaching - Science (5-9 or 5-12)
- B.A. Science (5-12, Geosciences)
- M.A. Science Education (5-12, Chemistry)
- And more...
- M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction: Science
- M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction: Teacher Leadership
- M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction: Career and Technical Education (CTE)
- M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction: Methods & Curriculum
- And more...
- B.S. in Elementary Education: Science (Leads to initial teacher licensure)
- M.A. in Teaching - Professional Learning Communities (Does not lead to initial teacher licensure)
- M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction: Technology (Does not lead to initial teacher licensure)
- B.S. in Secondary Education: Business Education
- And more...
- Master of Education: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education
- MA in Teaching: Advanced Studies in Secondary Education- National Board Preparation
- Doctor of Education/Curriculum and Instruction
- Doctor of Education in Ed. Leadership/Educational Technology
- M.A. in Education/Secondary Teacher Education
- B.S. in Education / Elementary Education
- And more...