Science teachers play an essential role in preparing young people for stable, well-paying careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, STEM Job Growth 2016-2026 grew three times faster than non-STEM Job Growth 2016-2026 in the first decade of this century. Despite the growing importance of STEM education, shortages of science teachers exist in some areas. With a bachelor’s degree in science education, you can pursue certification as a middle or high school science teacher, as well as enter several related fields as a science educator.
Earning your degree online offers flexibility, enabling you to balance school with the demands of work and family. Online programs sometimes offer lower tuition rates and reduce the need to live near campus or travel to classes, making them more affordable than on-campus programs. This guide outlines affordable online bachelor’s in science education programs, Job Growth 2016-2026 and salaries for science educators, course options, and financial aid opportunities.
Although earning a science education bachelor’s degree online does not guarantee a particular salary, postsecondary teachers earn an average annual salary of $55,000-$60,000. Teaching is not the only career option for these degree holders. Many organizations need science educators, including museums, science centers, publications, nonprofits, and healthcare providers. Projected Job Growth 2016-2026 is faster than the national average for many science education positions.
High school science teachers teach subjects including biology, chemistry, and physics to students in grades 9-12. These teachers plan lessons and lab experiments, teach lessons, and evaluate student learning. Teachers prepare students for college-level coursework and sometimes teach college-level material in advanced classes. They often take on additional school roles, including faculty committee member, coach, adviser, or mentor.
Middle school teachers teach science to students in grades 6-8. Responsibilities include lesson planning, teaching lessons on basic scientific concepts and methods, and grading papers. These teachers prepare students for high school science classes. Middle school teachers usually work collaboratively with other teachers to meet diverse student needs.
CTE teachers work in secondary schools, community colleges, and technical schools to teach a variety of technical and vocational subjects. They teach the skills students need to enter occupations in industries such as healthcare, computer science, and auto repair. These teachers prepare lessons that include hands-on activities, monitor student equipment use, and evaluate student progress.
Health educators work for healthcare providers, hospitals, nonprofits, and community agencies. They design and deliver lessons on health-related subjects intended to promote wellness and teach people how to manage specific health conditions. These educators often teach adults and sometimes create instructional materials, oversee health education programs, and train health instructors.
Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Salaries for secondary science teachers vary by state and cost of living. Large states such as Texas, California, and New York employ the most secondary teachers. In rural Alaska, where the cost of living is 28% higher than the national average, secondary teachers make an average salary of $85,420, the highest in the nation. Experience and education also impact Job Growth 2016-2026 openings and salaries. Qualified science teachers, especially those with expertise in specific subjects, such as physics, are in high demand.
A science education degree online typically includes general education courses as well as course requirements for the major that provide a solid foundation in pedagogy and science. To become a licensed secondary science teacher, graduates must demonstrate completion of specific education and science courses, such as biology and chemistry. The specific courses required in each state vary, and course offerings vary by school. Check with your prospective school for specific course offerings and degree requirements. Below are common courses offered in a bachelor’s in science education program.
This course introduces the applications of psychological principles to teaching and learning. Students explore psychological research findings and issues in educational psychology.
This course introduces techniques for creating a safe, inclusive classroom for all students. Participants explore the qualities and needs of diverse learners and exceptional students and learn to differentiate instruction to meet those needs.
Effective classroom management is an essential skill for any teacher. This course introduces strategies for creating a safe and positive learning environment for all students. Participants articulate their teaching philosophy and classroom procedures.
Teachers use assessment to measure student learning and set data-driven goals. This course introduces strategies for creating, scoring, and interpreting classroom assessments using relevant technology and curriculum standards.
This course introduces teaching methods specific to science. It explores core science concepts, technology integration, and teaching strategies, including safe laboratory practices. Participants learn how to plan standards-based science instruction.
As you explore science education programs, you should consider degree options, costs, and requirements. In addition to these primary factors, it’s important to examine each program’s reputation and quality, as indicated by its ranking, accreditation status, and faculty. You should also research how well each degree can prepare you for the career or graduate program you desire.
Each state requires certified teachers to complete a state-approved and accredited degree and meet specific course requirements. Most education programs clearly state whether they include licensure course requirements. Some programs only prepare graduates to enter a master’s program for licensure. If a school does not make this information clear on its website, contact them directly or check with your state’s department of education.
Education programs offered completely online generally do not provide a path to licensure. Programs that include certification requirements typically require student teaching and other face-to-face meetings with peers to allow for hands-on practice of teaching skills. Regarding general education and major courses, an online degree provides similar offerings to a traditional program.
Many online education programs include some hybrid courses or field experiences, particularly programs that provide a path to licensure. Check to see if programs that interest you include hybrid courses that enable peer interactions or placement in a school or education center as an intern or student teacher. Student teaching is a requirement for certification as a science teacher.
The best way to know if your degree qualifies you for the Job Growth 2016-2026 you want is to review online Job Growth 2016-2026 postings or ask employers what they look for regarding educational background. Public schools require teachers to be certified, so if your goal is to teach science in a secondary school, make sure your program prepares you for licensure. Private and charter schools do not always require certification. Other Job Growth 2016-2026 in science education may only require a bachelor’s degree in a related field. Check Job Growth 2016-2026 postings to learn more.
Your school should hold national or regional accreditation. Employers and graduate schools rank regionally accredited schools more highly than nationally accredited schools, and regionally accredited schools only accept credits from other regionally accredited schools. Your program may also hold specialized accreditation. The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation accredits teacher preparation programs. Other indicators of quality include rankings, faculty, and testimonials from graduates.
There are many ways to finance a science education degree. Many online students work and pay for classes using their earnings, while others finance their education with loans or grants. Scholarships and grants, unlike loans, do not need to be paid back. Many organizations encourage college students to enter the field by offering need-based and merit-based scholarships. Below are several organizational scholarships for students pursuing a bachelor’s in science education.
Students age 25 or older who plan to teach at the secondary level may apply to the Daughters of the American Revolution for this merit-based scholarship of $1,500. Applicants must be at least a sophomore at an accredited school with a GPA of 3.5 or above. Renewal is not automatic, although recipients may apply for consideration each year.
This large scholarship program seeks to reduce financial barriers for minority students entering fields where they are traditionally underrepresented, such as science education. The program covers the cost of all unmet financial need. The application consists of a student portion, a nominator form, and a recommender form. GMS considers the academic achievement, leadership potential, and community service of applicants.
The American Association of Physics Teachers offers an annual $2,000 stipend to undergraduates enrolled in teacher preparation programs who plan to become high school physics teachers. Applicants may request the stipend for up to four years. The application requires letters of recommendation and is open to U.S. citizens attending U.S. schools.
Students attending colleges located in New York State (NYS) who plan to teach secondary science in may apply to this program. Students do not have to reside in New York to apply. Recipients receive an amount equal to in-state tuition for up to four years of full-time undergraduate study and one year of graduate study leading to certification, paid directly to the student’s college. Recipients must agree to serve five years as a teacher in NYS.
To qualify for this federal grant, you must meet eligibility requirements for federal financial aid, complete the FAFSA, and enroll in a participating school. This grant program provides $4,000 per year to students who agree to teach full time in a high-need field, such as science, or in a low-income school for four years. Contact the financial aid office at your school to see if your school participates in the TEACH Grant program.