High School Chemistry Teacher
Science and math subjects remain in demand in many high schools. In some areas of the U.S., increases in student enrollment and projected retirements should contribute to a favorable job market for teachers.
- Bachelor’s degree in chemistry
- Teaching certificate (requirements vary)
- Median annual wage: $55,050 (2012)
Teaching allows you to share your passion for chemistry with others. Many educators say the most satisfying aspect of their work is helping to shape the lives and minds of students. Successful high school chemistry teachers are well-organized and disciplined enough to apply structure to a flexible-but-demanding teaching schedule.
On an average day, high school chemistry teachers facilitate student learning and understanding of chemistry through guided inquiry, direct instruction, investigations, problem solving, and discussion. Teachers are also responsible for class preparation, classroom management, as well as developing and grading assessments, and meeting with students and parents outside class. High school educators may teach between four and six classes comprised of 20 to 30 students. They may also lead field trips, organize afterschool activities, and provide tutoring outside of class.
High school chemistry teachers often develop curriculum objectives for their classrooms using state and national science teaching standards, guidelines from national science organizations, and local input. Objectives are used as a planning guide for daily lessons that might include guided lectures, modeling laboratory investigations, projects, and group inquiry.
High school chemistry teaching jobs generally require a bachelor's degree in chemistry and proficiency in other sciences and math. Additional courses in education and a teaching certificate may also be required. Specific requirements vary by state and school-type.
High school teachers work in public, private, and parochial high schools, with several hundred to several thousand students from 9th to 12th grade. Schools are located within city limits, in the suburbs, and in more rural areas.
- Knowledge of chemistry and a variety of strategies for engagement, instruction, and assessment
- Knowledge of and training in chemical and laboratory preparation and safety
- Communication and interpersonal skills to work with other teachers, parents, and administrators
- 21st Biennial Conference on Chemical Education: 2010—A New Decade for Opportunity
- What it Takes to Become an Awesome Chemical Educator
- Teaching and Learning Guiding Principles
- Hiring and Promotion in Chemical Education
- Meeting the Challenges of Teaching Chemistry for General Education Students: Summary of the Fall 2007 ConfChem Conference
- Teaching High School Chemistry as a Second Career
- Report: The Physics Teacher: Chemistry and Physics Teachers Have a Lot in Common
Future Employment Trends
Despite budget limitations, science (particularly chemistry and physics) and math remain in demand in a considerable number of high schools. In some parts of the country, there is a severe shortage of qualified science teachers. In some instances, high school teachers may be asked to teach related courses (e.g. physics, mathematics) depending on the size of the school and course needs. Increases in student enrollments and projected retirements should contribute to a continued favorable job market for teachers.
Is This Career a Good Fit for You?
High school chemistry teachers agree that it is important to feel enthusiastic about the subject and to have a sincere interest in student development. They must have mastery of chemistry content and a variety of strategies for facilitating student engagement and deep understanding of that information. They are able to support students in making connections between classroom learning and the world around them. High school teachers must be willing to create an environment that enables all students to have an opportunity to learn chemistry. They should demonstrate patience flexibility, fairness, and humor.and. Teachers must also enjoy working with teenagers and the special challenges that come with that age group.
Excellent chemistry teachers are themselves lifelong learners and are willing to collaborate and share their expertise with other education and science professionals.