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Biology Teacher, Secondary
Summary Job Description Education Skills, Abilities and Interests More Information
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Job OutlookJob opportunities for teachers over the next 10 years will vary from good to excellent, depending on the locality, grade level, and subject taught. Most job openings will result from the need to replace the large number of teachers who are expected to retire over the 2008-18 period. Also, many beginning teachers decide to leave teaching for other careers after a year or two—especially those employed in poor, urban schools—creating additional job openings for teachers.

Employment of school teachers is expected to grow by 13 percent between 2008 and 2018, about as fast as the average for all occupations. However, because of the size of the occupations in this group, this growth will create 468,600 additional teacher positions, more than all but a few occupations.

Through 2018, overall student enrollments in elementary, middle, and secondary schools—a key factor in the demand for teachers—are expected to rise more slowly than in the past as children of the baby boom generation leave the school system. This will cause employment of teachers from kindergarten through the secondary grades to grow as fast as the average. Projected enrollments will vary by region. Fast-growing States in the South and West—led by Nevada, Arizona, Texas, and Georgia—will experience the largest enrollment increases. Enrollments in the Midwest are expected to hold relatively steady, while those in the Northeast are expected to decline. Teachers who are geographically mobile and who obtain licensure in more than one subject should have a distinct advantage in finding a job.

Enrollments in the northeast and midwest are expected to hold relatively steady or decline. The job market for teachers also continues to vary by school location and by subject taught. Many inner cities—often characterized by overcrowded, ill-equipped schools and higher-than-average poverty rates—and rural areas—characterized by their remote location and relatively low salaries—have difficulty attracting and retaining enough teachers, so job prospects should be better in these areas than in suburban districts.

Currently, many school districts have difficulty hiring qualified teachers in some subject areas—mathematics, science (especially chemistry and physics), bilingual education, and foreign languages. Qualified vocational teachers, at both the middle school and secondary school levels, also are currently in demand in a variety of fields. Specialties that have an adequate number of qualified teachers include general elementary education, physical education, and social studies. Teachers who are geographically mobile and who obtain licensure in more than one subject should have a distinct advantage in finding a job. Increasing enrollments of minorities, coupled with a shortage of minority teachers, should cause efforts to recruit minority teachers to intensify. Also, the number of non-English speaking students has grown dramatically, creating demand for bilingual teachers and for those who teach English as a second language. The number of teachers employed is dependent as well on state and local expenditures for education and on the enactment of legislation to increase the quality of education. A number of initiatives, such as reduced class size (primarily in the early elementary grades), mandatory preschool for 4-year-olds, and all-day kindergarten, have been implemented in a few States, but not nationwide. Additional teachers—particularly preschool and early elementary school teachers—will be needed if states or localities implement any of these measures. At the federal level, legislation that is likely to affect teachers recently was put into place with the enactment of the No Child Left Behind Act. Although the full impact of this act is not yet known, its emphasis on ensuring that all schools hire and retain only qualified teachers, may lead to an increase in funding for schools that currently lack such teachers.

The supply of teachers is expected to increase in response to reports of improved job prospects, better pay, more teacher involvement in school policy, and greater public interest in education. In recent years, the total number of bachelor’s and master’s degrees granted in education has increased steadily. Because of a shortage of teachers in certain locations, and in anticipation of the loss of a number of teachers to retirement, many states have implemented policies that will encourage more students to become teachers. In addition, more teachers may be drawn from a reserve pool of career changers, substitute teachers, and teachers completing alternative certification programs.

More InformationNational Association of Biology Teachers, National Science Teachers Association, National Education Association, American Federation of Teachers, U.S. Department of Education, National Teacher Recruitment Clearinghouse

ReferencesBureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, Teachers—Kindergarten, Elementary, Middle, and Secondary, on the Internet at

O*NET OnLine, on the Internet at