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Become a Physics Teacher

The US is in desperate need of qualified physics teachers, for those with a solid grasp of physics and an inventive mind. Graduating physics teachers don't ask "Can I get a job?", but "Which job offer should I take?"

Physics teachers, especially at the high school level, are critical in helping young people to learn and explore physics, and to gain the skills and confidence required to pursue further study and physics-related careers. Teaching high school physics can be a highly rewarding experience with lots of excitement and problem solving. It is a career in which you can make a difference in an immediately tangible way and inspire students to see the world in a new way.

To become a qualified physics teacher, the State of California wants to certify that you know two things:

  1. you know what to teach (your physics content knowledge)
  2. you know how to teach (a teaching credential program)

Physics Content Knowledge

Demonstrating that you know what to teach.

There are two ways to show the state that you know physics and science content. Either approach is accepted by the California Teaching Commission.

Option 1: Coursework

You can take coursework that the state has approved that demonstrates you have physics knowledge and general science knowledge. You need both because your physics credential allows you to teach Physics K-12 and all other sciences K-9. This means you'll need to take some biology, chemistry and earth/space science in addition to your physics major.

Option 2: Examination

You can demonstrate you have the content knowledge to teach physics and general science by passing the exams administered by the California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET). The CSET exams for a physics teaching credential are the test 215 (science subtest I) and test 220 (science subtest II: physics); see CSET: Science for more information about these tests. Test scores are good for five years, which means you must complete a credential program within five years of passing the tests.

Secondary Science Credential Program

Demonstrating that you know how to teach.

To show the state you know how to teach you must complete a state approved credential program. As a future physics teacher, you need to enroll in a Single Subject Science Credential Program. All ten of the SoCal California State University (CSU) campuses have science credential programs. These are post-baccalaureate programs, meaning you enroll in them after you have completed your undergraduate degree. In some cases you can take some credential courses while still an undergraduate. This option may save you time (and money). This varies by campus, so speak to an advisor.

In California, a middle or high school science teacher will be earning a Single Subject Credential. This means that you would be credentialed, or certified, to teach a single subject – in this case physics. You can add additional credentials (like math, chemistry or computer science). An elementary teacher would earn a Multiple Subjects Credential as elementary teachers tend to be in self-contained classrooms where they teach all (or multiple) content areas.

Getting Your Physics Credential at a CSU

All ten SoCal CSU's have programs where you can earn your physics degree and your physics teaching credential. Connect with faculty and advisors on the campus closest to you. Our faculty are ready to help you pursue a physics teaching credential so you can get out into the classroom to inspire the next generation of scientifically literate citizens! Speaking to us early in your college career will help you plan your academic program and help you meet your goals in a timely fashion.

Credential Programs by CSU Campus
CSU Campus Physics Department Science Teacher Credential Program
CSU Channel Islands Physics @ Channel Islands Credential @ Channel Islands
CSU Dominguez Hills Physics @ Dominguez Hills Credential @ Dominguez Hills
CSU Fullerton Physics @ Fullerton Credential @ Fullerton
CSU Long Beach Physics @ Long Beach Credential @ Long Beach
CSU Los Angeles Physics @ Los Angeles Credential @ Los Angeles
CSU Northridge Physics @ Northridge Credential @ Northridge
Cal Poly Pomona Physics @ Pomona Credential @ Pomona
CSU San Bernardino Physics @ San Bernardino Credential @ San Bernardino
CSU San Marcos Physics @ San Marcos Credential @ San Marcos
San Diego State University Physics @ San Diego Credential @ San Diego