Chemistry teachers usually work at the high school, college and university levels. You'll typically need a degree in chemistry and training in teacher education in order to work in this field. Keep reading to learn more about academic requirements and career opportunities for aspiring chemistry teachers.
As a chemistry teacher, you'll teach chemistry-related topics, such as the properties and construction of matter, chemical reactions and organic compounds. If you have a strong background in mathematics and science combined with a desire to share your knowledge with others, teaching chemistry may be a good career choice for you. To succeed in this field, you should have patience and good communication skills, as well as a strong understanding of chemical processes and laboratory safety procedures.
At the middle and high school levels, you'll teach students the basics of organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, chemical analysis and chemical separation through a combination of lectures, coursework and lab experiments. At the college or university level, you may conduct research, submit findings to scholarly journals and solicit research grants, in addition to working with students.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted 13% growth in the employment of elementary, middle and high school teachers between 2008 and 2018 (www.bls.gov). Due to the high number of expected retirements and an increase in college enrollment during this time, the BLS predicted faster-than-average employment growth of 15% for professors. As of May 2010, middle school teachers earned an average salary of $54,880, while high school teachers earned $55,990. Chemistry professors at the postsecondary level earned an average income of $80,070 per year, according to the BLS.
There are degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate level, as well as certificate programs, that can train you to teach chemistry. Many schools offer programs that allow you to earn a bachelor's degree in chemistry and a certificate in teaching through a combination of coursework in chemistry and education. These programs usually include a student teaching component where you'll gain first-hand experience working in a classroom. In most states, licensure requirements for middle and high school teachers include completion of a bachelor's program with education courses, a teaching experience and an exam.
According to the BLS, a few states expect newly hired teachers to obtain a master's degree. Some schools offer master's programs designed for credentialed teachers. If you have a bachelor's degree in chemistry but lack teaching experience, there are also chemistry master's programs that can prepare you for licensure. Teaching at the college level typically requires a minimum of a master's degree. However, most university professors in this field hold a Ph.D. in Chemistry.