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Education needed to teach physics?

  1. Mar 16, 2015 #1
    hello all. I am high science teacher. I've been teaching advanced science (including physics) classes for almost 25 years. I am retiring after next year and am looking to some sort of part-time career after retirement. To that end ... I would like to teach introductory physics classes at the junior or community college level.

    My problem is this ... I have a BS in Geology and an MS in Science Education. I obtained my teaching certificate for physics via undergrad courses and several online courses. Will I need a minimum of an MS in Physics to teach at the level I'm looking at? And if so ... will I need to go back to university in order to attain it? If so, I'm probably not going to be able to do that ... I'm not interested in 36 hours of advanced math and physics (plus all the BS that goes with applying, being accepted and enrolling into a program etc etc) to teach classes less rigorous than what I've already been teaching ... I know that may sound a bit arrogant, but I've taught a college level biology class for years at a local juco that was much less rigorous than the AP Biology class I was also teaching. I can't imagine physics being much different.

    thanks for any advice/suggestions!
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 16, 2015 #2


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    It depends on the institution. If a particular CC is looking for someone to teach their remedial students who are planning to complete their GED, then sure, you definitely are someone they are looking for. But most often than not, they want someone to teach intro physics classes at the same level as the first two years of college. And with that, this may not be something you are qualified for.

    You may check for yourself. Look at a typical intro physics text, such as Halliday and Resnick, and see if you are able to teach that and do a few of the HW problems, especially the ones that require calculus.

    And BTW, I've seen CC classes in intro physics that is as rigorous as intro classes at a university. This is especially true if the CC classes credits are transferable to various universities.

  4. Mar 16, 2015 #3
    I've used Halliday & Resnick in my high school classes ... you're right about the rigor I'm sure that many juco classes are just as tough ... my experience with biology notwithstanding. The kids I got in the college credit class were the ones who just needed to get a science credit out of the way ... the kids I had in AP Bio were mostly the ones who were planning on attending 4-year universities to major in some medical field (i.e. pre-med/pre-pharmacy etc).

    I guess I'll start looking around for way to get that MS in Physics ... maybe I won't need the full 36 hours since I already have an MS in another field ...
  5. Mar 16, 2015 #4

    Quantum Defect

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    I think that most community colleges are pretty clear about what requirements that they need for their teachers in the advertisements that they list. I have looked at a number of different ads in a variety of states in the US, and it does not seem to be very uniform from state to state.

    You can look in the Chronicle of Higher Education for job listings for CC instructors -- where I saw the adverts. I seem to recall that many of the larger systems had requirements for possession of a CC teaching certificate (like the public high schools in the state) for applicants without the PhD.

    I suspect that the HR sites of the different colleges will also list requirements. College catalogs are usually available online, and these usually have a list of faculty members, with their degrees.

    With that said, I would note that there are large numbers of young people with PhDs that are cobbling together adjunct gigs to earn a living. This is not so much the case in the sciences, but it is still a problem. Long-story short: there is a glut of applicants for instructor positions at these places. You bring a level of experience that the fresh PhDs do not have, but there is rampant credentialism (administrators trying to make their numbers look better than the compettition) that may hurt you.

    Have you looked at independent schools? There may be some private schools in your area where you would be the bee's knees.

    Look at the NAIS (National Association of Independent Schools) jobs listing http://careers.nais.org/jobs -- this is a very comprehensive, easily navigable website.

    You might also talk to the people at Carney Sandoe -- http://www.carneysandoe.com/ (no charge to job seekers). Carney Sandoe runs large job fairs across the country, where they have speed-dating types of job interviews. I found them to be quite helpful when I was looking at jobs in private schools -- I had more success with them, than I had with self-representation.

    I did see part-time listings at NAIS -- essentially schools scrambling to find someone to cover some classes at the last minute.
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