Biology is the study of all living things and includes many subdisciplines, such as zoology, botany, ecology and genetics. Teaching jobs in biology vary from middle school to university, and requirements for education and certification or licensure may differ by state or institution.
Biology in Middle School
Although some middle school teachers teach a variety of subjects to a single class, the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that middle school teachers may also concentrate on a single subject, such as biology. You must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and complete a teaching internship. If you teach in a public school, you will also need a state-issued certification or license, according to the BLS. Many states require that you major in a content area, such as biology or a related discipline. In some states, you must complete your master’s degree after you become certified. Regulations may differ in private schools.
Moving Up to High School
High school teachers are much more likely to teach only one or two subjects, the BLS reports. In addition to biology, for example, you might teach a general science class or a related topic, such as environmental science. You must earn a bachelor’s degree with a major in the area you teach and complete an internship or residency. Like middle school teachers, high school teachers must usually be certified or licensed in public schools and some may be required to earn master's degrees.
The Postsecondary Level
In postsecondary institutions such as community colleges and universities, requirements change. A master’s degree in biology may be acceptable in community colleges, but many universities require a doctorate. Although an internship or residency isn’t required, some institutions prefer to hire faculty with teaching experience. Postsecondary teachers are more likely to have an opportunity for tenure, which prevents a professor from being fired without just cause. In addition to teaching, you might have the opportunity -- or even be required -- to perform research in a university setting.
Money and Job Growth
Job prospects for teachers between 2010 and 2020 vary according to the educational setting and location, according to the BLS, but will be approximately or less than the 14 percent average for all occupations. Demand for middle school teachers is expected to grow 17 percent, with higher growth in the South and West. High school teachers can expect a much lower growth rate of 7 percent, especially in the Northeast, with more jobs expected in the South and West. For-profit colleges and universities will offer the best prospects for postsecondary teachers, although the average growth rate will be approximately 17 percent. Salaries for teachers in middle schools averaged $56,280 in 2012, while high school teachers earned $57,770. The BLS separates postsecondary teachers by subject, and reports postsecondary teachers of biological sciences made $87,060 in 2012.
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Biological Science Disciplines
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Middle School Teachers
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: High School Teachers
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Postsecondary Teachers
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: May 2012 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates United States
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