Depending on the grade level you aspire to handle, meeting the requirements to specialize an education/teaching degree in chemistry may mean adding a few more credentials to your resume. Chemistry courses are highly specialized by nature although teaching the course does not require special licensure. Since chemistry programs typically include a laboratory component, you will be asked to show proof of your competency in lab protocols and safety practices, including preventing lab accidents and managing emergency situations. In terms of academic requirements, the qualifications for teaching chemistry in a secondary school will be less stringent than if you were to teach chemistry courses on the graduate level. In elementary schools, chemistry principles are incorporated in general science subjects, so your degree in education and completion of credentials to teach at specific grade levels will suffice, according to the American Association of Chemistry Teachers.
Teaching Chemistry in Middle and Secondary Schools
In middle schools, the science curriculum usually incorporates basic principles of chemistry. Advance classes may be given extra modules specific to chemistry, but your basic teaching credentials related to subject matter and grader level expertise should be enough to land these assignments.
When you move to secondary schools, there is a tremendous leap in credentialing requirements. If you have a bachelor’s in education, get started on earning a master’s in chemistry. Some high schools will accept highly experienced teachers who are in the process of earning a master’s in chemistry regardless of the expected graduation date. Other high schools may specify an end term for your master’s degree or risk losing your job or being moved to less rigorous programs. Still other high schools will only consider applicants who have a bachelor’s in education, a master’s in chemistry and exemplary academic records in both degree programs.
Teaching Chemistry to College Students
In undergraduate colleges, chemistry may be a core course for certain majors, including chemistry, biochemistry, nutrition, pharmacy tech, biology and related fields. Other students may take college chemistry courses as an elective. Community colleges and four-year colleges will require a master’s degree in chemistry or a closely related field before considering anyone for a teaching position as adjunct, contract or tenure track professor in colleges and universities. Graduation from your chemistry program, proof of internship or work experience related to teaching or working as a chemist or laboratory technician are some of the qualifications that will help you specialize a degree in education to a chemistry specialization.
Teaching Chemistry to Graduate Students
Students enrolled in graduate-level chemistry courses are majoring in physical or natural science programs. Understandably, the requirements for an instructor position at this level will be much more stringent. A doctorate in chemistry or any program related to chemistry will be the minimum requirement. Some universities may require publication of research work in credible, peer-reviewed journals along with actual experience in the industry as a researcher or executive in companies whose core businesses are related to chemistry.
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With a degree in education, you can build up your credentials as a teaching specialist without specific subject matter expertise so that you can move from one grade level or subject matter to the next. You can also plan on specializing as a teacher for a specific subject matter such as chemistry. You may have to complete a few graduate level chemistry courses or a master’s in chemistry or similar field. To specialize in chemistry as an education major, join the relevant trade organizations to network with industry leaders and, possibly, find a mentor.