Physics Certification and Certificate Programs

Physics is a broad discipline that seeks to explain and understand the physical nature of the universe. Only a handful of colleges and universities award certificates in physics. Instead, most schools feature physics programs that begin at the associate or bachelor's degree level, depending on the type of institution.

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.

  • Program Levels in Physics: Certificate, bachelor's degree, master's degree, Ph.D.
  • Prerequisites: Minimum high school diploma or GED for a physics certificate
  • Program Length: 15-21 academic credits for a physics certificate

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 2012-2022, jobs are projected to grow by 10%. In May 2014, physicists earned a mean income of $117,300 a year, as reported by the BLS. High school teachers in general are expected to have a 6% increase in job opportunities between 2012 and 2022 and reported a mean annual income of $59,330 in May of 2014.

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.

Certification Information

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.

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