Teacher — Secondary School — Chemistry

Chemistry with science teacher
Education and training

Career outlook for teacher — secondary school — chemistry

UK Salary Ranges





Currently employed in Scotland


Salary information is provided by the "National Careers Service". "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would inspire and motivate young people to learn about the properties of matter and how substances interact through chemical reactions to form different substances.

As a chemistry teacher you’d teach the pupils about elements, atoms and molecules and the scientific principles and concepts used to understand the material world.

You would teach young people from 11 to 18 years old, in state and independent schools. You might also work in a college or learning centre.

You’d help your pupils develop skills in the accurate use of scientific language, formulae and equations and how to use practical techniques for scientific inquiry and investigation.

They would learn how scientific discoveries make an impact on people’s lives, society and the enviroment. You’d teach them the capacity to be scientifically literate citizens and prepare the foundations for some pupils to go on to a career in science and technologies.

You’d teach students of different ages and abilities and prepare young people to take the National Qualifications and Highers in this subject.

There is national guidance for Curriculum for Excellence Sciences and National Qualifications, which you would use when planning your teaching.

You would:

  • prepare lessons and teaching materials
  • assess students’ progress and mark their work
  • set homework
  • manage classroom behaviour
  • discuss students' progress with parents and carers
  • organise study trips, social activities and sports events.

You’d encourage the students to take pride in their achievements inside and outside school. You’d support them to build good relationships with other students and teachers and play a positive part in the life of the school and the local community.

You’d help them get the knowledge, skills and attributes they’ll need for a successful and positive life when they leave school.

Sometimes you will need to deal with challenging behaviour. It may be difficult to get some teenagers to study so you’d need to be imaginative and enthusiastic to keep them interested.

You’d need to attend meetings and training courses. You’d work closely with colleagues to plan the school’s timetables, and work with other professionals such as education psychologists and social workers.

Working conditions


Teaching takes place for 39 weeks a year, usually from 9am to 3.30pm or 4pm. You are likely to spend several more hours outside of these times, planning lessons, marking pupils' work and taking part in activities such as outings, parent evenings and training.


Secondary school teachers often have a base classroom. However, from time to time they may have to carry books and equipment from room to room. This is subject to the space available in each school.


You could do supply teaching where you work in different schools for short periods to cover the absences of permanent teachers.

UK employment status





Self employed


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  • Supporting
  • Verbal communication
  • Written communication
  • Empathising
  • Respecting
  • Social conscience
  • Ethical
  • Coaching
  • Mentoring
  • Motivating others

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.


You'll need a Chemistry Degree (SCQF Level 9/10).

To become a qualified teacher, you'll need to complete a PGDE - Professional Graduate Diploma in Education - in Chemistry (SCQF Level 11). 

If you don't already have a degree, you can study chemistry with teacher training over four to five years. Courses available include:

  • An MChem (SCQF Level 11) which combines a Royal Society of Chemistry-accredited degree with teacher training (PGDE)
  • Or a combined honours in Education (Secondary) with Chemistry (SCQF Level 10)

To enter a chemistry degree or MChem usually requires National 5 qualifications and at least four Highers - Advanced Highers in maths and chemistry would be preferred. Some competitive courses will ask for Highers in one sitting. 

To enter a PGDE, you'll need a chemistry degree with at least 80 SCQF Credit Points in a combination of organic, physical and inorganic chemistry. 

Useful subjects

  • Higher English (may be required) 
  • Chemistry (may be required)
  • Biology or Physics (may be required)
  • Either National 5 or Higher Maths (may be required)
  • Science subjects
  • Technology subjects
  • Social studies subjects such as Psychology

You will also need

To be approved for membership of the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme run by Disclosure Scotland.

Helpful to have

Qualifications and experience that demonstrate the ability to work with children or young people, communication skills and experience in sciences, in particular chemical sciences, will be helpful.

You will be expected to support literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing as well as your own subject.