Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Becoming a highschool physics teacher

  1. Mar 9, 2008 #1
    outof curiosity what is the path to getting a job teaching physics if one has a bachelors degree in physics.

    I ask as I am currently at a point where I could get a physics bachelor next year at the end of my 3rd year. however I would have a lackluster gpa at about a 3.2, with a number of holes where it counts for a physics major. However if I stay till 4 years that would be significantly higher, and I would have fixed said holes, and I probably would go on to a decent grad school.

    on the other hand if I forced myself through to graduation at the end of next year it would save me on the order of 30,000 dollars. And I should be qualified to teach highschool physics and have enough where it counts to get a job.

    Is there any advice out there on what is required in general for a physics teacher, and what the differences between different states is?

    personally I would like to teach either in california or somewhere on the east coast.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 9, 2008 #2
    Mine had a bachelor's in Biology...even if you did a mediocre job as a physics undergrad, you probably have been exposed to more of the field than people that often end up teaching it.

    The main credentials issue is getting the teaching certification required for the level & location. More practically, you need teaching experience. Tutoring and TA jobs are a good way to get this, and one you can start on while still in college. Depending on your department/institution, there may also be very useful courses on the topic.

    Do you want to teach high school, or are you using this as a fall-back plan for not feeling qualified to do graduate-level physics?
  4. Mar 9, 2008 #3
    a bit of both actually, the results of this semester will weigh alot on my decision. I don't feel unqualified, and thus would gladly spend the extra year to demonstrate this, however other forces also weigh in on this decision.

    It is in some ways a fall-back position, but not one that I don't want. I've often pondered working for teach for america or another such group for a year or two in between undergrad and grad.

    Currently I'm essentially weighing two different careers that I would gladly take and weighing the pros and cons of graduating a year from now.
  5. Mar 9, 2008 #4
    Does your university have a school of education? If you can, get your teaching credentials now, while you're still an undergrad, and BEFORE you graduate. You are still eligible for loans and such if you are still an undergrad.

    Once you have graduated, you can go back to get post-graduate certification, which is probably a one to two year period (depending on the required coursework, observation, etc.) to become certified. Or, you can do as I have done, and go into an alternative certification program.

    The advantage of the alt-cert program is that you immediately get to jump into teaching, while you take the pedagogy-related classwork either online, or in night/summer classes. Since I was finishing my master's in physics at the time, I was interested in a paying career, not more years of unpaid school. The alternative program worked great for me.

    Nevertheless, I really wish I had known how much I liked teaching when I was an undergrad, because I would have taken the double-major and earned a BSE along with my physics degree.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook