5 Science Specialty Areas for Educators

5 Science Specialty Areas for Educators

Science specialty areas for educators can help graduates occupy a niche and have better odds of landing a job. Education students in science can pick a specialization or area of emphasis that helps them focus on a specific area of science education.

Specializations for a Bachelor’s in Science Education Program

There are many modern science classroom categories and scientific disciplines. And many science specialists have advanced degrees and years of teaching experience. However, science teachers can increase their knowledge and marketability with a specialty, specialization, or focus area in their bachelor’s or master’s degree. Below are some of the best ones teachers can earn!

  1. Biology
  2. Chemistry
  3. Environmental Science
  4. Forensic Science
  5. English as a Second Language (ESL)

1. Biology


The biological structure and functions of living organisms make up a large part of our world. Biology is a science concerned with living organisms and is a core class at most high schools or universities. For this reason, biology is an excellent scientific field in which to specialize. Below are some of the classes students may take in a biology concentration or specialization.

  • Introduction to Biology
  • Zoology
  • Ecology and Environmental Science
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology
  • Molecular and Cellular Biology
  • Heredity and Genetics
  • Evolution
  • Biology: Content Knowledge
  • Chemistry with Lab
  • Science, Technology, and Society

Other components or sub-specializations within this field include neurobiology, biotechnology, experimental biology, and more. How specialized a student wants to depend upon whether they intend to teach more generalized biology courses or more specific ones at the college or university level.

2. Chemistry


Like biology, chemistry is another major discipline within the scientific field that is taught in most educational institutions. Chemistry looks at the elements, atoms, and subatomic particles’ composition, behavior, changes, and reactions. It is a critical component in most other scientific fields, such as biology, geology, astrophysics, pharmacology, and more.

Specialization in Chemistry includes various general, analytical, and organic chemistry courses. Students also take additional mathematics classes. Below are some of the classes students may take in this specialization.

  • General Chemistry I and II with Labs
  • Physical Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Biochemistry

According to the American Chemical Society, this makes it an excellent selection of a topic to teach because there are plenty of job openings, especially in some regions of the country. Chemistry is one of the most basic yet integral science specialty areas.

Program: University of South Florida’s Bachelor of Science in Science Education (more here)

3. Earth and Environmental Science

Environmental science teachers focus on the effects of human activities on the environment. Related fields of study include biology, geology, and ecology. Many high schools have an environmental science curriculum, but few have teachers qualified to teach the subject. Below are some concepts students cover in an earth and environmental science specialization.

  • Ecology and Environmental Science
  • Ocean Systems and Marine Biology
  • Applications of Environmental Sciences
  • Earth from Space
  • Climate Change and Sustainability
  • Atmospheric Sciences, Weather, and Climate
  • Environmental Issues in Water Resources
  • Air Pollution and Society
  • Human Dimensions of Climate Change
  • Diversity and Environmental Justice
  • Forest Ecology, Communities, and Wildlife
  • Conservation of Natural Resources
  • Soil Science, Environmental Quality, and Global Challenges

As environmental issues become more critical for both humans and other forms of life on this planet, environmental science will continue to grow in popularity as a critical scientific specialty area. Many students want to obtain degrees in environmental science to protect natural ecosystems and animal life and preserve human health. Environmental science looks at just about every component of the relationship humans have with nature, from pollution to conservation.

Program: NC State University’s Bachelor of Science in Science Education: Earth & Environmental Science concentration (more here)

4. Forensic Science

Forensic science is an exciting science specialization that applies science to law enforcement. This includes both civil and criminal law, although forensic science is most commonly used during criminal investigations. Forensic science involves the analysis of blood, DNA, bullet casings, and more to gather evidence related to a crime and who might have committed it.

Education students specializing in forensic science often work for criminal justice programs, teaching the subject to students who want to enter this field.

5. English as a Second Language

English as a Second Language

English as a second language, more commonly known as ESL, is in-demand due to the influx of students who do not speak English as their first language. ESL teachers, perhaps contrary to popular belief, do not only teach English.

They can specialize in teaching any subject, including any discipline, to students who primarily speak a language other than English. This often requires special considerations, skillsets, and techniques that are not needed in regular science classrooms.

Types of Basic or Fundamental Sciences

Types of Basic or Fundamental Sciences

The fundamental sciences are Social Science, Formal Science, and Natural Science. Additionally, there are many branches of science in each fundamental science.

Social sciences study individuals, societies, and their relationships. They include Anthropology, Sociology, Archaeology, Economics, Political Science, Philosophy, Human Geography, Linguistics, and Psychology.

Formal sciences study formal systems. This category includes logic, mathematics, data science, theoretical computer science, information theory, systems theory, decision theory, and statistics.

Natural sciences study natural phenomena and have two main branches with multiple fields.

  • Physical Science – Astronomy, Organic Chemistry, Earth Science, Physics, Geology, Oceanography, Meteorology, Atomic Physics, Astrophysics, Geophysics, Paleontology,
  • Life Science – Biology, Botany, Zoology, Biochemistry, Microbiology, Ecology, Genetics, Integrative Physiology, Mycology, Virology, Bacteriology, and Protistology.

What is a Bachelor’s Degree in Education for Science Teachers?

A science education bachelor’s degree is an undergraduate degree. Most students complete it in four years with approximately 120 credit hours. These programs train students to teach science to elementary, middle, and also high school students.

Other Specialties for a Bachelor of Science in Science Education

  • STEM Teaching
  • Earth and Space Science
  • General Science
  • Physics
  • Data Science
  • Elementary Education
  • Engineering

What Do You Learn in a Science Teacher Program?

What courses do you take in a Science Education program? All bachelor’s degrees require basic classes in general education, like English, history, and math. In addition, students take courses related to their major. These often include a combination of science and teaching courses. 

With an education major, students can also specialize in a specific science. For example, they may choose chemistry or life science. Typically this choice reflects the topic they want to teach. And the specialty gives them more in-depth knowledge of the subject. Additionally, during the last year of education programs, most schools require a student teaching placement.

What are the Admissions Requirements for a Science Teacher Degree Program?

You will first apply and take your general education courses to gain acceptance into an education program for science educators. Then you can apply to the institution’s department or College of Education for the specific program you’re seeking. Most programs require some or all of the below items.

  • complete application
  • official transcripts from high school or college with a minimum GPA of 2.5.
  • letters of recommendation or references
  • SAT or ACT scores, if required
  • personal statement or essay
  • some schools may require a virtual interview with an enrollment counselor

Applicants should ensure the degree program meets the state’s teacher education requirements.

What are the Advantages of a Specialization in Science Education?

Scientific knowledge is abundant and grows by the second. Furthermore, scientific study ranges from life sciences and the natural world to studying chemical substances.  In recent years advances in other fields have demonstrated the importance of specialization. No scientist can be an expert in all areas of science. Thus, specializations are necessary to ensure the retention of experts in current and future fields of science. 

Specializations also allow individuals to establish themselves in a subfield more quickly. As a result, the field benefits from the new ideas that new scientists bring to a group, thus expanding the knowledge.

Increasing the time to develop a specialized career brings members in faster, contributing to diversity. Additionally, these new members contribute new research, development, and journal articles (National Academies Press).

Why Choose a Specialty or Specialization?

Science teachers play a critical role in the development of well-rounded students. Engaging them in science aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards fosters their imagination, develops critical thinking, and opens the door to new possibilities, ideas, and experiences.

Students who pursue post-secondary teaching are often better off specializing in a particular scientific discipline. This allows them to focus on learning all about and teaching a specific scientific subject. Consider any of these science specialty areas that are in demand.

Scientific training has become highly specialized, with graduate programs channeling students into narrower areas. The advantages of reducing the amount of information that any individual must master are largely self-evident. However, given that specialization will remain the status quo in the foreseeable future.

Jobs for Science Education Majors

Most Bachelor of Science in Science Education graduates take a job teaching science. Below are some of the most common jobs in science education.

Elementary School Science Teacher

Elementary school teachers instruct in kindergarten through grade fiftieth grade. A STEM specialization is ideal for individuals who teach elementary school. Elementary school teachers typically instruct students in several basic subjects throughout the day. Additionally, these teachers may escort students to lunch, assemblies, and recess. They also take students to classes taught by other teachers, such as music, art, or enrichment.

Increasingly, schools are adding specialty STEM teachers that teach many classes or rotate to teach in different classrooms. So, a teacher specializing in science education may teach this age group as a supplemental STEM teacher.

Job Growth: 4%

Middle School Science Teacher 

Middle school teachers instruct students in grades six through eight. They teach a broad range of science concepts and foundational principles. Create lesson plans and teach them to a class or a smaller group. In addition, they assess students to evaluate strengths, weaknesses, and content comprehension.

Job Growth: 4%

High School Science Teacher

High school teachers are also known as secondary school teachers. They teach grades nine through twelve. High school science teachers move from a generalized science curriculum and typically teach courses like Biology, Physics, Chemistry, or Earth Science. So, specialization is common for high school science teachers.

Job Growth: 5%

Science Curriculum Developer

A curriculum developer creates a curriculum to deliver specific learning objectives. This specialization focuses exclusively on curriculum development and design to plan courses in conjunction with institutional and state goals. They work with other education professionals to develop course materials for teachers. In addition, curriculum developers may observe classes to help create a curriculum that increases student success.

Job Growth: 4%

Instructional Design Professional in Science Curriculum

Instructional design professionals focus on creating the curriculum and experiences rather than instructing the students. An instructional design and technology specialization focuses on instructional tools and technology at the institutional or district level. As technology evolves in the classroom, these professionals provide new insights for utilizing technology to achieve various learning outcomes.

Job Growth: 7%

How Much is a Science Teacher’s Salary?

Teacher salaries vary by the teacher’s education, experience, the state where they teach, and grade. Below is the US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ national median salaries for science teachers by grade.

  • Elementary School Teachers: $61,350 (BLS)
  • Middle School Teachers: $61,320 (BLS)
  • High School Teachers: $62,870 (BLS)
  • Science Curriculum Developer: $56,953 (GlassDoor)
  • Instructional Design Professional: $63,740 (BLS)
  • ESL Teachers: $59,720 (BLS)

What are the Highest Paying Jobs with a Bachelor’s in Science Education?

The BLS reports New York, California, Massachusetts, Washington, and Connecticut are the top-paying states for Middle School Teachers.

New York$94,690
BLS top paying states for Middle School Teachers

High school teachers also earn the most in New York, California, Massachusetts, Washington, and Connecticut. However, high school teachers earn less than their middle school counterparts in Connecticut, New York, and Massachusetts. While Washington and California pay high school teachers more.

New York$94,600
BLS top paying states for High School Teachers

How Do You Choose a Science Education Degree Program?

The cost of tuition for a bachelor of science (BS) in science education is one of the most important aspects to many students. However, the price of a degree program varies by school. Important factors include whether the school is public or private, the student’s residency status, and financial need.

Generally, students who need the most affordable tuition look for public universities in the state where they reside. Additionally, online degree programs offer lots of flexibility with 24-hour access and competitive tuition. For example, some programs do not charge out-of-state tuition to online students. 

Prospective students should be cautious when choosing any degree program specifically for a licensed professional. For example, teachers, nurses, and social workers need a license to practice from the state where they work. So everyone should check and ensure the school they attend has accreditation and is approved for licensing in their field of study. Typically, established schools have a description of this information on their website. 

The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) accredits education degree programs. And you can find resources on their website to help you verify accreditation.