Physics Teacher: Employment Info & Requirements

Physics teachers help students learn about energy, force, and matter as well as other topics associated with this natural science. Find information about classroom duties and degree requirements for physics teachers, as well as what to look for in terms of potential employment opportunities and salary.

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Career Definition for Physics Teachers

Physics teachers provide students with information about the calculations and laws associated with matter and energy. High school physics teachers prepare lesson plans and assign homework, as well as create and grade exams that test students on what they have learned. They are also responsible for working with parents, school administrators, and other teachers to further the educations of all students.

Education Bachelor's in physics or related field
Job Duties Prepare lesson plans, assign homework, create and grade exams
Median Salary (2015)* $57,200 (all high school teachers)
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6% (all high school teachers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Required

High school physics teachers usually have a bachelor's degree in the subject or a related discipline. A teaching certification or license is usually required to work in a public school, after which teachers may have to complete a master's degree program. Although individual exam requirements can vary, the Physics Department at Illinois State University reports that the state test includes questions about instructional strategies and the basics of physics (www.phy.ilstu.edu). Private high schools typically have less stringent requirements and may accept candidates with a bachelor's degree in a specific field of study.

Skills Required

Physics teachers must have a strong understanding of the basics and principals of physics. They must also have the communication skills necessary to educate and inspire students and present lessons in an accessible and easy-to-understand manner. Patience and resourcefulness are also important when explaining complex ideas to students with different academic skills and family backgrounds.

Career and Salary Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that employment opportunities for high school teachers in general are expected to increase by 6% nationwide between 2014 and 2024, an average percentage in comparison to all other occupations. Additionally, the BLS reported that the median annual salary for high school teachers was $57,200 in May 2015.

Alternate Career Options

Similar career options in this field include:

Middle School Teachers

Middle school teachers usually work with students in grades 6-8 and help them get ready for high school. Public school requirements include a bachelor's degree in math, science, or another major subject area and a state certification; private institutions may look for candidates with 4-year degrees in elementary education or a major content area. As reported by the BLS, employment prospects for middle school teachers are projected to increase by 6% nationwide, as fast as average, from 2014-2024. In May 2015, middle school teachers were paid median yearly wages of $55,860, also according to the BLS (www.bls.gov).

Special Education Teachers

Special education teachers provide students who have emotional, learning, mental, and physical disabilities with instruction in math, reading, writing, and other subjects. A bachelor's degree in elementary education, a major content area, or special education, along with a state license, is usually required to obtain a teaching position in a public school. According to the BLS, special education teachers will also see a 6%, or average, increase in jobs through 2024. Those who were employed in secondary schools in May 2015 earned median annual wages of $58,500, as reported by the BLS (www.bls.gov).


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