How to Become a High School Science Teacher

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Teachers are in high demand and the job is recession-proof. Science teachers are in especially demand since the schools are constantly competing with other, high paying science employers. With the high number of young students, the high number of retiring teachers and the lack of new candidates, the opportunities to teach science are at an all time high.

  • Enroll at a college. Take science classes and education classes. Take a year of general biology, a year of general chemistry, a year of general geology, a year of physics, a year of environmental science, and any other science classes that your school requires. Take every lab along with those science classes. On top of that, you'll need to take all of the general studies courses and classes necessary to graduate with a teaching certificate.

  • Learn the standards for your state. The standards are a list of the content that each state requires be taught in the classroom. These standards are also the basis of many topics on the statewide assessments. The standards ensure that each student meets certain basic requirements of literacy for a given subject area and are available on the department of education website for your state. As a science teacher, you are in luck since most states have similar standards. The standards will be grouped together by education level of the student and then further categorized into subject areas. These standards must relate to everything that is taught. This is easier than it sounds since every lesson will usually fit into several categories, naturally.

  • Take a shortcut to certification. In some states, an associates degree must be accepted in lieu of general studies requirements. If your associates degree is science related, it not only gives you a source of employment while you attend college, but it also can knock a few science courses out of the way in the process (check with the college that you will attend after the community college to make sure that the credits will transfer and get it in writing).

  • Some states have a special program some called the teacher in residence program. This program allows people hired as teachers to work as a teacher while they earn their certificate. There are a lot of conditions that teachers are required to meet for this program that basically add up to the requirements being very similar to becoming a traditionally certified teacher. The problem with this approach is that, depending on the state where you live, you will need to have a degree in the field you will teach and a teaching job in order to get into this program. This program is available only once in a lifetime for each candidate and has a time limit for completion.

  • Take the exam to become "highly-qualified" to teach under the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act. These exams are administered in each state. The national version of the exam (accepted universally) is known as the PRAXIS. Some states have their own version of the exam, though the PRAXIS is more desirable since it does not limit your options to one specific state.

  • Teach at a private school to avoid some of the state requirements. The school will review your qualifications and experience to make the decision to hire you. You will still have to take the test to be highly qualified (which is non-negotiable).

Tips & Warnings

  • Dual certification will increase you chances of being hired. Administrators love a teacher with coaching skills and who are willing to take up after school activities. Try to avoid this the first two years of teaching until you know what your capabilities are since there will be plenty of meetings and other encroachments on you grading and planning time. Get a second income. This may mean that you have to work more than one job or have a spouse willing to work outside the home or some way of cutting expenses. More and more, districts are trying to get teachers to pay for the materials that they use and as part of the teaching culture, teachers often buy supplies for their classrooms when districts will not cover it.
  • Only teach if it is something that you absolutely love. It must be part of your life mission since the rewards are, in large part, intangible.

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