Physics Certification and Certificate Programs

While uncommon, a physics certificate explores the field in the pursuit of explaining and understanding the physical nature of the universe. Learn about common courses, possible careers and continuing education options.

Essential Information

Students who earn a certificate in physics learn the fundamentals of this area of science but may not have enough training to find jobs in the field. Typically, certificate programs require students to earn 15-21 academic credits. Students interested in teaching physics at the high school level will require additional coursework in education and must pass state exams to become certified. Physicists who work in research and development positions within industry, government or academia require advanced degrees.

Certificate Programs in Physics

Some universities only offer physics certificates to current degree students pursuing another major. Other schools welcome non-degree students and require no prerequisites besides a high school diploma or GED. Students must complete required introductory courses in addition to their choice of electives, which are usually selected from a variety of topics, including:

  • Astrophysics
  • Calculus
  • Mechanics
  • Modern physics
  • Molecular physics
  • Optics

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Physicists have a good employment outlook, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). From 2014-2024, jobs are projected to grow by 8%. In May 2015, physicists earned a mean income of $118,500 a year, as reported by the BLS. High school teachers, in general, are expected to have a 6% increase in job opportunities between 2014 and 2024 and reported a mean annual income of $60,440 in May of 2015.

Continuing Education Information

For viable job prospects, a more advanced degree in physics is necessary. Bachelor's degrees often lead to employment as research assistants or technicians, while master's degrees and Ph.D.s earn graduates employment as designers, researchers, and professors.

Physics majors hoping to teach physics in high schools must earn a teaching certification in physics from their state boards of education. In addition to taking physics classes during their bachelor's degree program, students take education theory and methods classes. They also complete a period of student teaching and pass certification exams.

A physics certificate lays the foundation for further education into the study of the nature of our universe. Students will need to advance to a higher level of undergraduate or graduate education in order to find work in a physics field, and will need certification if they wish to be a teacher.

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