How to Become a STEM-Certified Teacher

How to Become a STEM-Certified Teacher
The Editorial Team February 24, 2023

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STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and it’s generally used as an umbrella term for various disciplines within these fields. In a school setting, STEM classes or certifications revolve around an approach to educational development and learning that integrates these core subjects into classroom materials and learning systems. 

The modern world relies heavily on STEM, with a particular emphasis on technology. Teachers who become STEM-certified can help students learn in a way most befitting the workforce in years to come. 

At-a-glance: STEM-certified teacher

The outlook for STEM-certified teachers is excellent, as the position is in high demand thanks to a deficit of about a quarter of a million professionals. This makes finding a job (and potentially demanding a higher starting salary) significantly easier.

STEM-certified teachers have passed the necessary certifications and training to teach science, technology, engineering, and mathematics courses. Most are employed full-time at primary, secondary, or postsecondary educational institutions, although some may work for commercial learning companies.

The path to becoming a STEM-certified teacher is straightforward. While in college, taking STEM classes to specialize in this area is generally enough. STEM-specific certification courses are available if you have already completed your teaching degree and want to re-specialize. 

STEM-certified teacher job description

As a STEM-certified teacher, you will typically spend most of your time teaching, mentoring, and interacting with students. In primary schools, classes are often generalized. However, secondary and postsecondary STEM teachers usually specialize in one aspect of STEM, such as chemistry, computer science, or biology. 

Typical duties of a STEM-certified teacher may include:

  • Teaching students about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and finding ways to make them enthusiastic about STEM topics
  • Designing, implementing, and revising (as necessary) STEM-based lesson plans
  • Evaluating students using various methods, including verbal or written tests, participation, labs, and projects
  • Continuing personal education by staying up to date on the most recent STEM news and regularly attending seminars, workshops, and classes to keep credentials current
  • Collaborating with other teachers on projects and programs as necessary
  • Sometimes providing private or group tutoring to students who may struggle to comprehend STEM or implement their comprehension in standardized tests
  • Using various technologies to manage students, lesson plans, programs, departments, and certifications, depending on the position

Who makes a good STEM-certified teacher?

A good STEM-certified teacher is someone who:

  • Has a passion and profound understanding of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics
  • Feels confident teaching others these skills using a range of learning devices or concepts, including tests, lectures, assignments, experiments, and other labs
  • Understands modern technology and how to use it effectively, as needed to fulfill their duties
  • Wants to make a difference in the world by getting children or adults excited about STEM topics 
  • Has excellent written and verbal communication skills, as well as role model and leadership characteristics

STEM-certified teacher in-depth

Education requirements

  • Education: Bachelor’s degree in a STEM-related field and a teaching degree or certification, OR a bachelor’s degree in teaching and a STEM certification
  • Typical time to earn a graduate degree: 4-8 years

To become a STEM-certified teacher, you can use one of two career pathways that are generally equally effective. You can receive your bachelor’s degree (or higher) in a STEM-related field, such as chemistry or computer science, and then study to obtain a teaching certification. Or you can receive a bachelor’s degree in teaching and then complete a STEM certification course or degree.

Average salaries for STEM-certified teachers

Salaries for STEM teachers nationwide typically fall in the range of $44,242 to $52,000. However, those working in higher education generally receive greater compensation than those in primary schools. Location may also be a factor, with positions in some states paying more than those in others. 

Here’s a snapshot of the average annual salaries for STEM-certified teachers: 

Job outlook for STEM-certified teachers

The outlook for STEM-certified teachers is excellent, with reliable sources stating a deficit of around 250,000 qualified professionals, as reported in 2021. This makes getting a job easier and, in some places, allows for greater bargaining power to demand higher pay or better benefits.

It may be easier to find a STEM teacher job in larger cities or population hubs, especially those with nearby universities or community colleges. STEM teachers living in rural areas or far from postsecondary institutions may still find it challenging to gain employment.

Challenges and opportunities for STEM-certified teachers


  • Many full-time STEM-certified teachers receive generous benefits packages. 
  • Most STEM-certified teachers have summers off, while those who do work during the summers usually only work part-time hours. 
  • With a few exceptions, STEM teachers will easily find employment. 
  • STEM is a growing field that promises job security and a continuing increase in demand. 
  • STEM teachers spend their days getting children or adults excited about relevant topics and helping them understand the complex subject matter.


  • STEM teachers often work long hours, sometimes beyond the typical 40-hour work week. 
  • You may find it challenging to get a job if you don’t live in a city or population hub. 
  • Topics are generally complex, so it can be challenging to engage students successfully. 
  • Some STEM-certified teachers have reported a lack of support at their institutions or communities.
  • Creating lessons that will get and keep students interested can be difficult, depending on the subject, and require extensive creative thinking. 

Professional development

Many STEM-certified teachers will remain in their current roles throughout their careers. However, finding a better-paying position, receiving raises, or negotiating better benefits packages are all ways you can advance. 

Continuing education

The most important things for STEM-certified teachers are staying up to date on the latest guidelines and news and increasing their experience. However, those hoping to work in higher education may find it helpful to pursue their master’s or doctoral degrees in a relevant field. 

Professional associations

Several professional associations and organizations support the careers of STEM-certified teachers: 

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