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Is High School Teacher a viable career for a Phsyics PhD or MS?

  1. Jan 6, 2014 #1
    I was wondering about the situation with regards to teaching high school physics and the extent that it is a viable path for those with a MS and/or a PhD in physics.

    I have heard it said numerous times, on physics forums and in my physics department, that many high schools are starved for qualified physics teachers and so if you have a MS or a PhD in Physics, it is possible to be placed with a high school relatively quickly and find various other ways to ease the transition into this job. I have heard that the reason more students with a MS or a PhD do not pursue this option is because for the vast majority of them it is seen as unattractive and too low paying and with too few rewards of any kind. And so while high schools do not have as much of an interest in hiring new teachers in other areas, they are interested in hiring new physics teachers, particularly those with a MS or PhD in physics. It is one of those situations there the job has more openings than it has qualified applicants - but that is also largely because of the many pitfalls and downsides of this job that you would need to be aware of if you pursued this job. And so for a MS or PhD in Physics, it is one of those things where getting the job is often relatively easy due to the demand for it but staying with the job can be hard as hell.

    I was wondering if this is accurate when it comes to prospects for teaching high school physics if you have a MS or a PhD or if I have my information totally wrong here and have it completely backwards?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 6, 2014 #2


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    Sure. Teaching high school physics is a perfectly viable path for someone with an MS or Ph.D. in physics. To be honest I'm not sure how much it will affect typical public schools but elite academies like the North Carolina school of Science and Mathematics" have a lot of Ph.Ds on staff.

    One data point. A post-doc in physics I worked with while I was a student is now a physics teacher in an expensive private school in Marin County. As far as I know he is very happy.

    If you want to be a teacher though, I wouldn't make the time investment in a Ph.D. But that's up to you.
  4. Jan 6, 2014 #3

    Vanadium 50

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    I would argue that a more useful way to spend your time than getting a PhD if you want to go down this path is to get an MS and certification.
  5. Jan 6, 2014 #4

    Meir Achuz

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    You may also need some ed courses for certification.
    The PhD is not necessary, but working on it will be the most exiting period in your life.
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