How to Become a Health Science Teacher


Introduction

Health Science is an umbrella term for many different health-related disciplines. Depending on whether you are teaching health sciences at the secondary or postsecondary level, it can mean two very different things. At the high school level, health science teachers sometimes focus on teaching healthy lifestyles to students, such as units on drug prevention or nutrition. However, some states also offer health science courses that aim to prepare students for careers in health science fields.

At the postsecondary level, health science teachers primarily focus on training students for careers in health science professions. Many health science programs offer training in fields, such as occupational therapy and physical therapy. Some college and university level health science programs also include courses in speech-language pathology, kinesiology, or health administration. For this reason, while most health science programs offer science degrees, some programs offer degrees in the arts. Depending on the level and program, qualifications to become a health science teacher might vary considerably.

How can I become an elementary or middle school health sciences teacher?

At the elementary or middle school levels, health sciences are typically offered as part of the physical education curriculum, and are therefore taught by the physical education teacher. To become a physical education teacher at the elementary or middle school level, an individual must complete a bachelor’s degree in physical education, or a bachelor’s degree in education with a focus on physical education. In addition to completing a relevant bachelor’s degree, physical education teachers must be certified to teach in their state.

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How can I become a high school health sciences teacher?

HealthDepending on the state, health science teachers at the high school level may be responsible for teaching a health and/or sex education curriculum or offer courses that more closely align with the health science curriculum at the postsecondary level. For example, in California, high school health science teachers are expected to explore topics such as, human growth and development, communicable diseases, nutrition, and/or fitness. In South Carolina, however, over 200 high schools offer health sciences curriculum focused on career development.

For this reason, a job as a health science teacher may take on very different forms. Regardless, high school health science teachers must hold a bachelor’s degree, ideally in the health sciences or health sciences education, specialized training in education, and becoming certified to teach in their state.

How can I become a college health science professor?

Depending on the college and program, credentials for college health science professors vary. After all, they may be hired to teach in vastly different fields. A college level occupational therapy professor is typically required to be a certified occupational therapist. In most cases, he or she must also hold licensure to practice in the state where they are teaching (or be eligible to hold licensure in the state), to have substantial clinical experience, to hold a master’s degree, and ideally, a doctoral degree.

A health science professor hired to teach nutrition or medical administration, on the other hand, will be asked to hold similar credentials related to these areas of specialization. In most cases, college health science programs seek candidates with professional certification (at least if they are seeking to hire someone in a field where certification is required), graduate-level training, clinical experience, and teaching experience.

How can I become a university health science professor?

University health science professors must hold a PhD in a health science discipline, such as occupational therapy, kinesiology or nutrition, and be engaged in relevant research. It is assumed that they have completed graduate level coursework, passed doctoral field exams, and written and defended a dissertation on a health science-related topic.

Like all university professors, they are expected to divide their time between research, teaching and service. While a professor teaching in one program might be engaged in the development of new health testing tools to reduce the expense and time of diagnosing contagious diseases, like Ebola, a health sciences professor working in a different program may be engaged in research on mental health, health administration, or speech pathology.  Again, because health science is an umbrella term for a wide range of disciplines, research opportunities cover a diverse range of topics.

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