7 Steps To Become a Chemistry Teacher

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published February 15, 2021

Chemistry teachers contribute to the education of future scientists, engineers and healthcare professionals. They provide a basic understanding of how the world works through the applications of chemistry and physics. Chemistry teachers complete education, teaching and licensing requirements according to the requisites of the institution where they intend to teach. In this article, we explain what chemistry teachers do and outline the steps to become a high school chemistry teacher.

What does a chemistry teacher do?

Chemistry teachers help students gain an understanding of chemistry and provide real-world applications to reinforce learning. They plan lessons on the basic concepts of chemistry, biology and physiology and assess student progress. Chemistry teachers assist students as needed to support both the understanding and application of scientific concepts.

In addition, chemistry teachers also:

  • Assist in other areas of the school

  • Use standard and unconventional methods to educate students in science and math

  • Create and maintain docs for lessons and update student records

  • Develop lessons that comply with state or national standards and testing

  • Modify lessons for ESL students

  • Provide hands-on instruction

Related: Learn About Being a Teacher

How to become a chemistry teacher

Becoming a chemistry teacher begins with deciding where you want to teach: public or private high schools, universities or research institutions. Requirements vary from state to state and it's always a good idea to check your state's essential education level, teaching experience or certification criteria for chemistry teachers.

Here is a list of seven steps to become a high school chemistry teacher:

1. Take high school chemistry courses

If you're still in high school, sign up for courses in physics, biology, geometry and calculus. Consider finding a part-time job in a pharmacy or similar field to better understand the applications of chemistry principles. The science courses taken in high school support your learning in a college environment and provide a good start to earning your bachelor's degree.

2. Earn a bachelor's degree

After completing high school, the next step is to earn a bachelor's degree in education or chemistry. High school chemistry teachers may choose to major in education and minor in chemistry. Students can take an accredited teacher education program alongside their regular studies or study independently after earning their degree. To be certain the program meets standards and requirements, choose one accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. Consider joining chemistry and science clubs or honor societies to increase your experience and invite opportunity for networking or job notices.

Keep in mind that some high schools may require a master's degree to teach chemistry, be sure to check your state's requisites for chemistry teachers.

College courses recommended for chemistry teachers are:

  • Biology

  • Physics

  • Calculus

  • General chemistry

  • Organic chemistry

  • Inorganic chemistry

  • Physical chemistry

  • Chemistry labs

Teaching preparation classes include:

  • Psychology

  • Instructional techniques

  • Student interaction methodology

3. Complete student teaching requirements

Before applying for a teaching certification, future chemistry teachers may need to fulfill teaching criteria, usually by completing an internship at local high school or working as a substitute. Practice teaching lets students understand the classroom experience from a teaching perspective and offers the chance to learn from other professionals. Check with your state to verify teaching requirements such as length of internship or specifics for teaching environments.

4. Apply for teaching certification

Teaching certification requirements also vary from state to state but most require teachers prove their qualification by passing examinations before issuing a certification. Keep in mind that if you move to another state, requirements may change and you may need to take exams again.

Once certified, states may require teachers attend continuing education courses to maintain their teaching license. Requirements vary, check with your local school board for details.

5. Earn an advanced degree

Some states require chemistry teachers to hold a master's degree while some students may pursue a master's degree to increase earning potential and teaching opportunities. Master's degree coursework tailors to those who are not teachers but hold a bachelor's degree in chemistry, or for certified teachers who want to expand their chemistry education. Earning a Master of Arts in teaching is common for bachelor's degree holders who want to teach. Typically, master's degree level chemistry teachers can teach at two-year colleges.

If teaching at a four-year college or university, a PhD in chemistry is usually required. This typically takes another six years after earning a bachelors and includes research and specialized coursework

6. Join a professional organization

After earning your degree and certification, consider joining a professional organization such as the Association of American Educators. Professional organizations provide opportunities to meet other professionals in your field to expand your network, hear about continuing education opportunities or be privy to job openings.

Some teachers may opt to join a professional union such as the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers to understand their rights and responsibilities as educators.

7. Build your resume

Design your resume to include your education, experience and job objectives. Include internship, teaching experience and coursework detail. Below, we include a list of essential skills to highlight on your resume or in your cover letter.

8. Search for job openings

Once you've got your degree and certification, search for job openings at your local schools or surrounding areas. Use Indeed's powerful search engine to begin your job search and find out what the school requires to teach chemistry.

Read more: The Essential Job Search Guide

Key skills for chemistry teachers

Chemistry teachers are adept in hard and soft skills that demonstrate their knowledge of science and its applications as well as their ability to teach.

Successful chemistry teachers include these vital skills on their resumes:

  • Classroom management. Effective chemistry teachers collaborate with other teachers and science colleagues to implement techniques to improve instruction. They attend continuing education courses designed to develop classroom management such as disciplinary action and organizational methods.

  • Instructional skills. Chemistry teachers collaborate with colleagues to develop effective lesson plans that engage students in learning and provide real-world application of science concepts. Effective teachers create expectations for their students, note student progress, and support students so they understand concepts. Chemistry teachers complete various workshops to develop instructional skills in the laboratory and classroom as well as effective testing and grading.

  • Lab experiments. Chemistry teachers encourage learning by demonstrating how and why a concept works and proven in a hands-on environment where teachers prepare solutions or reagents for demonstration. Teachers then assist students with their own lab experiments and provide support for lab experiments and answer questions about process or procedure.

  • Communication. Chemistry teachers often relate complex subjects and their communication skills demonstrate their ability to explain or translate an idea. Teachers work with school staff, administration, parents and students and need to communicate effectively with each group.

  • Enthusiasm. Successful chemistry teachers show enthusiasm for their subject and convey their excitement to their students. Enthusiasm creates an interesting and informative learning environment so students can embrace science topics and learn effectively.

  • Problem solving. Chemistry teachers practice problem-solving by identifying and addressing conflicts or issues. They teach problem-solving through the application and demonstration of scientific principles.

  • Time management. Chemistry teachers use time-management skills to ensure students have allotted time for lab work, lecture, demonstrations, homework and tests.

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