Today’s schools are focusing on becoming competitive in math and science. As a result, the demand for high school science teachers is expected to grow over the next few years according to US News. The educational path towards becoming a high school biology teacher can be quite different than the path to becoming an elementary science teacher.
Best Degree for Becoming a Biology Teacher
In order to teach in an elementary school, many states require the teacher to pursue a degree in teaching, education or early childhood development. However, in order to teach biology in high school, it is often recommended that the potential teacher earn a bachelor’s degree in biology or another life science. In addition to biology, some schools may offer degrees in biology education and biological sciences. Earning a double major in biology and education may offer a competitive edge with potential employers.
Many states are beginning to recommend or require teachers pursue master’s degrees. A master’s degree in biology can lead to the ability to be certified as a highly qualified teacher. In addition, the master’s degree may also allow the teacher to also conduct research in life sciences for colleges, universities or hospitals. This may help teachers advance in their careers and look more appealing to potential employers. A master’s degree in biology can also act as a foundation towards earning a doctorate in biology, as well as a post-baccalaureat teaching certificate. This teaching certificate allows one to teach both biology and general science in a high school setting.
Becoming a High School Biology Teacher
Every state has different requirements for becoming licensed as a high school teacher. However, the process has a few consistencies across all states. First, the individual must earn a bachelor’s degree in biology or a related field. A second major in education or a teaching certificate in biology can be added to the original bachelor’s degree.
During college, many future teachers are required to participate in a teacher-training program. This program may ask participants to participate in student teaching or other forms of classroom teaching experience. This internship is often unpaid and supervised, although some programs offer a small stipend to student teachers.
Following the completion of the degree, many states require the teaching applicant to successfully pass a professional teaching exam. This exam may also include questions relating to the teaching speciality, such as biology or general life science. Finally, once all educational and testing requirements are completed, the applicant may be granted a teaching license. Some states also request that teachers also complete national certification procedures obtained through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS).
All states require high school biology teachers in public and charter schools to be licensed. However, in some private schools, high school biology teachers may not be required to earn state licensure, although the teacher should be able to demonstrate a high level of science knowledge and teaching experience. Often, those biologists actively engaged in scientific research or university-level teaching are sought out by private schools for teaching positions.
Teaching biology in high school does not require one to earn a bachelor’s degree in education. Many high school biology teachers have degrees in biology or life science. This makes teaching high school biology a great choice for both college students and experienced biologists who may be looking for a career change.