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How to become a science teacher

If you’re interested in combining your passion for science with teaching, then you’re in the right place. Discover how to become a science teacher today.

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Ever thought about being the spark that ignites the next Albert Einstein or Marie Curie? If so, then you should consider becoming a science teacher. While not everyone you teach will go on to become a world-renowned chemist, science is a core subject, and as a teacher you’re able to help lead the next generation of budding scientists. 

In this article, we’ll discuss how to become a science teacher, exploring everything from the qualifications you need to the average salary. Keep reading and find out more about the diverse and rewarding world of science education.

What is a science teacher and what do they do?

Whether you specialise in biology, chemistry, physics (or all three), as a science teacher, you’ll cover a broad range of disciplines that are tailored towards the age group and learning ability of your class. Your main duties will be around planning and creating lessons, teaching students, and setting homework in a school, college, or university.

If you want to be a science teacher, it’s important that you’re passionate about working with young people and helping them succeed. You’ll also need to be extremely knowledgeable about your chosen field of science.

Some of your main day-to-day duties will include:

  • Developing lessons, activities, and assessments to meet national education standards
  • Tracking student development and tailoring lessons for all backgrounds and abilities
  • Setting homework and providing constructive feedback
  • Working with other faculties and departments to develop learning objectives and ways of enhancing student wellbeing
  • Creating an inclusive teaching environment for all
  • Attending parent and teacher meetings

What are the different types of science teachers?

Typically, there are three main fields of science that you can specialise in. Depending on the type of school you work for and the age range of your students, you may need to teach all three.

  • Biology – learning about living things and how they work 
  • Chemistry – deals with the properties, composition, and structure of substances, and what happens when they change
  • Physics – focuses on the structure of matter and how things in the world around us work together

What qualifications do you need to become a science teacher?

Employers in the UK usually prefer an undergraduate degree in the area of science you want to teach. However, you can also get a bachelor’s degree in another relevant discipline. You’ll either need:

  • An undergraduate degree in science
  • To have completed a postgraduate teacher training course at a university or college

After your degree, a common way to get into teaching science is through a PGCE. This course will take up to two years to complete and will give you the professional skills and academic requirements needed to teach. It’s done under the School Direct Training Programme framework. 

Alternative training options include School-Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT), where you’ll learn teaching essentials through a simulated environment. Remember – it’s important to ensure that any route you choose offers PGCE credits. 

Other training routes into teaching include:

  • Class-based assessment – if you have teaching experience or have qualifications outside of the UK, you can teach a live class in front of an examiner who will determine your suitability.
  • Teach First – provides immediate professional placements within schools in the UK.

You’ll need to reach Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) by the end of your training to teach in primary, secondary, and special schools funded by local authorities in the UK. However, you don’t need QTS to teach in further education or early years.

Going to university and getting a relevant degree is recommended, but there’s another path to becoming a science teacher too. Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS) status means you won’t need degree-level credentials and is an alternative to QTS. However, you’ll need to meet the following criteria:

  • Be a member of the Society for Education and Training
  • Have achieved a teaching qualification at Level 5 or above
  • Hold a Level 2 maths, Level 2 English, and Level 3 science qualification
  • Must be teaching or training in a Further Education and Training setting throughout the Professional Formation programme
  • Identified a suitable supporter (someone you’ve worked with who has observed your teaching and learning practice)

What are the skills needed to become a science teacher?

If you’re interested in becoming a science teacher, there are some important soft skills you’ll need. These include:

  • An extensive knowledge of your chosen field of science and a passion for the subject
  • A passion for working with young people and supporting their development
  • The ability to stay calm under pressure
  • Good problem-solving skills
  • Excellent organisational skills 
  • Detail-oriented 
  • Excellent communication skills, both with students and fellow teachers
  • Empathy
  • Good leadership skills

How long does it take to become a science teacher?

Taking into consideration the time it takes to study for a degree at a university and complete a postgraduate teacher training course, you can expect it to take three to five years to become a science teacher.

This timeframe can change depending on whether you study part or full-time, any work placements you do, and what teacher training course you choose.

What are the typical working hours of a science teacher?

Your hours will depend on whether you teach at primary school, secondary school, or at college. Usually, you’ll be expected to work either:

  • 8.30 am to 3.30 pm five days a week
  • 9 am to 4 pm five days a week

Quite often, you’ll need to spend several more hours outside of these times to plan lessons, mark assignments, and take part in parent evenings and training courses.

How much does a science teacher make?

There are a few factors that’ll impact how much money you earn as a science teacher, like the place you work for, your experience, how senior you are, and the age group you teach. 

As a guide, in the UK, the average science teacher’s salary is £41,510.

Other salaries from around the world include:

What is career progression like as a science teacher?

How your career progresses as a science teacher will depend on who you work for and what age group of students you teach. For example, you may start life as a biology teacher at a secondary school, before getting a doctoral degree and teaching biology at a university. 

If you choose to stay at a particular school for a long period of time, you may have the opportunity to become head of the science department or even branch out to become a head teacher.

How to become a science teacher: additional learning

Regardless of whether you want to become a biology, chemistry, or physics teacher, we hope the advice we’ve shared in this article provides you with all the tools you need to start your teaching journey.

For additional learning support, why not check out the diverse range of teaching courses we offer at FutureLearn? From science teaching courses to STEM teaching courses, you can kick-start your teaching career today.

Online science teaching courses at FutureLearn

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