• OPPORTUNI TIES — Despite budget limitations,
science and math subjects remain in demand in
many high schools. In some areas of the United
States, increases in student enrollment and
projected retirements should contribute to a
favorable job market for teachers.
• EDUCATION NEEDED — Typically a bachelor’s degree
in chemistry, a teaching certificate (requirements
vary by state), and proficiency in other sciences and
math are required. Additional courses in education
may also be required. Specific requirements vary by
state and type of school.
• SALARIES — Median annual wage: $55,050 (2012).
• WORK SPACE — 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.
Become a High School Chemistry
Introduce Chemistry Concepts and Inspire Future Careers
BY ACS STAFF
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 comprising 20 to 30 students each. They may
also lead field trips, organize after-school 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 organiza-
tions, 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.
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.
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.
Future employment trends
Despite budget limitations, science (particularly chemistry and
physics) and math remain in demand in a considerable number
of high schools. Increases in student enrollments and projected
retirements should contribute to a favorable job market for
The job market for chemistry teachers is competitive. 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.
Lisa M. Balbes of Balbes Consultants LLC also
contributed to this article.