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Teaching high school

  • Thread starter NJJ289
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Main Question or Discussion Point

I'm in my first year at junior college now, planning on transferring elsewhere.

I'm pretty sure that I'd like to teach high school (either physics or math). My motivation for this is that good teachers are rare, good physics/math teachers are even rarer (and therefore more valuable?). I'm an immensely curious person and have found physics and math to be very enjoyable.

Problem is...I don't really know how this all works. I don't know what majors make me eligible (can a physics major teach math?) or how competitive teaching positions might be. How do I know where to apply for jobs? How easy is it to move to new states and get certifications there?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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I'm in my first year at junior college now, planning on transferring elsewhere.

I'm pretty sure that I'd like to teach high school (either physics or math). My motivation for this is that good teachers are rare, good physics/math teachers are even rarer (and therefore more valuable?). I'm an immensely curious person and have found physics and math to be very enjoyable.

Problem is...I don't really know how this all works. I don't know what majors make me eligible (can a physics major teach math?) or how competitive teaching positions might be. How do I know where to apply for jobs? How easy is it to move to new states and get certifications there?
I don't know if a physics major can teach math but some states require you have a major in the area you want to teach. The requirements vary state by state but most require you hold a bachelor's degree, an education major or minor for elementary education, attend an education program to learn how to be a teacher, and get certified. Physics teachers are in high demand in the U.S. and my AP Physics C teacher was one of two in my densely populated county, so you won't have problems there. I know there were two math teachers at my HS that established my school's reputation for math so good teachers are very valuable.

For a breakdown of each state's requirements you can visit:
http://education.uky.edu/AcadServ/content/50-states-certification-requirements

Don't expect the best pay though, and good luck.
 
  • #3
symbolipoint
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What degree you get is somewhat unimportant, only that if you want to teach Math or Physics, either of those majors are good as long as you put in enough units of credit for both subjects. You need at least an undergraduate degree or equivalent in the subject area to be eligible to teach it.

For high school or junior high or elementary school there are typically subject matter examinations required also. Then you apply to and hopefully be accepted into a teacher credential program.
 
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What degree you get is somewhat unimportant, only that if you want to teach Math or Physics, either of those majors are good as long as you put in enough units of credit for both subjects. You need at least an undergraduate degree or equivalent in the subject area to be eligible to teach it.
The two sentences contradict each other I think. Can you clarify?

As I said, regulations vary state by state and nothing can be said for certain. I found another very good site for looking these up and it shows salary, interstate teaching cert. transfers, and other statistics as well:

http://certificationmap.com/

Some states pay by demand-and-supply for the subject area and some pay the same across the board, so make sure your state has the former.
 
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The two sentences contradict each other I think. Can you clarify?

As I said, regulations vary state by state and nothing can be said for certain. I found another very good site for looking these up and it shows salary, interstate teaching cert. transfers, and other statistics as well:

http://certificationmap.com/

Some states pay by demand-and-supply for the subject area and some pay the same across the board, so make sure your state has the former.
They still do not seem contradictory. A degree in anything or the equivalent, along with passing the subjectmatter tests for what you want to teach. Maybe clarity is found in needing ANY undergraduate degree, AND having the equivalent coursework credit for a major in a subject area. Your degree might be, for example, in Philosophy, but if you had "37" units in Mathematics, along with the B.S. in Philosophy, then you may be eligible to teach Mathematics - but your state still might require passage of a subjectmatter test for the teaching of Mathematics.

The next step would be apply for a credential preparation program.
 
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Alright, but you said you would need an undergraduate degree [majoring] in the subject you want to teach. Inconsistent with "what degree (maybe you are talking about bachelor's vs master's instead of major) you get doesn't matter".

If it was ANY degree, then why did you use the qualifier IN?
 
  • #7
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As I said, ANY degree, at least Bachelors degree. Other than having a degree what counts is the amount of subject-matter credit. In fact, current legislation supports this; in fact further, I knew someone with a Philosophy undergraduate degree but with a minor concentration in Mathematics who was a high school Mathematics teacher. He mostly taught the college preparatory Math courses in his employing high school.
 
  • #8
I am a math teacher in Texas.

Currently in Texas all you need is a Bachelor's Degree in anything, go through an alternative certification process, and to pass the certification test. I have colleagues in the math department that have degrees in History, Political Science, Engineering, Math, Biology etc.

In my experience, and my experience is limited to Texas, Math teachers are in very high demand. Physics teachers are not in very high demand. You will have an easier time getting a secondary general science certification and moving into a physics position once it opens up.

The reason is that Physics is not a required part of the curriculum. The students are required to take four years of science and biology and chemistry take up the majority of those classes(bio I, II, and chem). For the fourth class they can take any science elective. The administration like having the general science teachers because they can move them to teach a class where they are needed, where as a physics teacher will only be able to teach physics unless he gets another certification.

I wish physics was a required part of the curriculum. I feel it would be very beneficial for our students to have that experience as high school physics is a class that, if taught by a good teacher, can get students interested in a career in science and engineering.

Generally we have more biology and chemistry teachers working and they teach a few physics classes on the side. We may have only one or two dedicated physics teachers. I was considering taking the certification test for physics so I can teach a class if it opens up as well, and my degree is in Math.

Again my experience is limited to Texas so take it for what it is worth. In some places in Texas the pay for a teacher is actually pretty good compared to the cost of living, but there are other factors teachers have to deal with that are making me consider leaving the profession. I would suggest looking up the certification requirements in places you hope to live.

AZ
 
  • #9
My physics teacher has BA in electrical engineering and Masters Degree in Electrical engineer. She teaches very well.
 
  • #10
In my experience, when you applied for a credential program, you submitted your transcripts and the areas in which you wanted to teach, and they analyzed your transcripts to see if certain coursework was met that would qualify you for teaching in a certain area. In my case, I wanted them to look at physics and chemistry (for which I was ultimately certified -- although in physics I needed to go and take an intro to astronomy course, even though I had a BS in Physics) and math (for which I was not certified, because I didn't want to take some accounting course -- even though I'd taken up to Real and Complex Analysis in my undergrad).

Other notes: It is currently NOT easy to move states. Certification/licensure programs are completed at a university, and are mostly accepted for that state (it's a bit of a pain to get other states to look at an out-of-state university's program). You then have to teach in the state for generally 3 about years... at which points other states may accept your out-of-state license and reissue a new in-state license (the time-line varies by state, but not really by "need" in a certain area like Math). There is now a process for national licensure, but to qualify to submit your application for this (which I beleive requires references, examples of work, etc. and take those tests, which are different from the Praxis) you must be teaching for something like ten years. Add on that the more experience you have, the more pay you get via labor union contracts... and generally the schools want CHEAP new teachers (so that adds onto the "hard to move" aspect).

my personal anecdote: Even with a Ph.D in physics, and an M.Ed. in classroom teaching... and TONS of teaching experience (since I'm now a lecturer at a university), I can't presently teach at a public school, since I let my certification expire while I pursued my Ph.D. Actually, at this point in life, I'd probably like going back to teaching HS (due to life changes including my own children)... but it would be a pain to get recertification (according to state paperwork, I'd have to get forms filled out by a certification program that I attended and a HS that employed me some 10-15 years ago -- and both in a different state).
 

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