Secondary School Qualifications
Yes, there are opportunities to teach high school biology without a master’s degree. According to an article in U.S. News, a high school teacher ranks #1 in the category for 2021 Best Education Jobs. The minimum degree is an undergraduate degree, preferably in the discipline that you plan to teach. A high school math teacher should have a bachelor’s in mathematics, for example.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the 2019 median income for high school teachers at $61,660 with a 4% job increase through 2029. If this percentage is accurate, 40,200 jobs will be available over the ten years. As of 2019, there were 1,050,800 working in this occupation. The low unemployment rate of 2.6% makes the profession attractive.
Future teachers also need to acquire a state license or certification after completing an approved teacher preparation program. The state and federal laws and regulations for teachers do not apply to private school teachers. Most do not require a state license or certification. According to the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), some private schools require a master’s degree.
The NAIS services over 1,600 independent K through grade 12 schools in the United States.
Private school teachers must adhere to the employment requirements of the particular institution. Experience and a graduate degree are standard preferences. These schools typically desire more student involvement through encouragement and development of love to learn. Because of the parents’ stature in the community, there could be more parental intervention and conferences. Discipline problems should be minimal, and teachers must wear professional attire. Teachers have the advantage of greater flexibility in the curriculum than their counterparts at public schools.
If the public school educational system is your preference, then a bachelor’s degree will be adequate to teach biology. Provided your major was biology. The same specialty at an independent school may require a master’s degree plus experience. Some teachers who have worked at public and private schools found the salary is higher in the former and the benefits more generous. Private schools do not receive the state and federal aid that public schools do—Independent schools rely on tuition, fundraisers, and wealthy benefactors.
Articles and posts such as this are excellent sources of information on the captioned question. Another valuable research tool is actual job postings on one of many online employment sites, for example, Indeed and SimplyHired. These job listings provide the qualifications for current high school teachers in biology. The following random selection will spotlight what public schools look for in applicants. All of the job postings below refer to a teacher – biology high school.
DeKalb County School District, Atlanta, GA
- Bachelor’s degree from a Professional Standards Commission approved accredited college or university in a relevant educational field.
- A valid Professional Standards Commission approved certificate.
Sand Springs Public Schools, Sand Springs, OK
- Valid Oklahoma Teaching Certificate in Assigned Subject(s): Intermediate or Advanced
- No mention of degree preference
The Sagemont School, Weston, FL
- Job is at a private K-12 college-preparatory school: requires an Advanced Placement (AP) Biology/Anatomy/Physiology Teacher
- Have a bachelor’s degree in the biological sciences and experience with AP classes
Achievers Early College Prep (AECP), Trenton, NJ
- AECP is a public charter school with students in grades 6-12
- Extensive content knowledge in Biology and Physical Science
- Familiarity and comfort with Google Classroom
- Bachelor’s degree required – Master’s degree is preferred
Percy L. Julian High School, Chicago, ILL
- Teachers must possess one of the following valid teaching licenses issued by the Illinois State Board of Education: Professional Educator License (PEL), Educator License with Stipulations (ELS).
- Bachelor’s degree and teaching certification preferred, plus one year of experience
Judging from the job postings above, most stipulate a bachelor’s degree. Therefore, it appears to be more advantageous to gain experience than spend another 18 to 24 months earning your graduate degree in biology – especially if you choose to work in the public school system. If your ambitions switch to the private school sector, you can always obtain a master’s degree online while employed.
The University of Kentucky, for example, offers a 100% online non-thesis Master of Science in Biology. The school has a reduced per-credit rate of $350 for Kentucky’s legal residents who have a valid Kentucky Educator License issued by the Education Professional Standards Board (EPSB).