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Becoming a physics teacher

This page is a work in progress. We hope to keep adding to it.

Questions and answers about becoming a physics teacher

NCNAAPT and AAPT are great resources for people who wish to become physics teachers, or for non-physics teachers who have been given physics teacher assignments. On this page we are gathering information to assist these individuals to navigate the often Byzantine process of undergraduate degrees, graduate credits, credential programs, state credentialing, and NCLB Highly Qualified Teacher certification.

Many physics teachers start with an undergraduate degree in physics. This degree will give you a strong background in physics, but is not necessary. Since most high school teachers teach more than one subject, having undergraduate coursework in other sciences (especially physical sciences) will help you be more “marketable,” as well as prepare you for being certified as “Highly Qualified” in other subjects (“Highly Qualified” is a system beyond credentials required by the national No Child Left Behind (NCLB) of 2002–more on that below).

If you already have an undergraduate degree, you may be ready to start into a credential program, or you may need one or two other courses before you can enroll (this depends on the breadth of your undergrad degree as well as the requirements of the credential program you enroll it). If you do not have an undergraduate degree, choosing your major carefully may help you both better prepare for teaching and for a credential program.

We look forward to helping you navigate your way to becoming a physics teacher, and welcome you to our community.

Please check back frequently, as this page is currently “under construction.”

Quick links state by state

California Nevada


California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC)


Nevada Department of Education Teacher Licensure (TL)

Universities with teacher ed programs

California State Universities: Teacher Education & Public School Programs

University of California: K-12 Educators

Universities with teacher ed programs

List of Nevada System of Higher Education Teacher Education programs.

Other tips

Other tips

Other notes

No Child Left Behind “Highly Qualified Certification”

We hope to have information here soon.

NCNAAPT and AAPT conferences and meetings

Both our section and the national AAPT offer gatherings twice a year where physics educators gather to share tip and tricks of our craft. Current teachers as well as others interested in teaching are encouraged to attend. “First timers” usually get some sort of discount (attendance at your first NCNAAPT conference is always free!). Calendar and announcements here.

Help, they are making me teach physics!

Since there are fewer credentialed physics teachers than physics teacher positions, many teachers find they are pulled from chemistry, math, or other teaching subjects into teaching physics. We hope to provide you with some resources here to help you transition to teaching physics.


  • Physics Teacher SOS. NCNAAPT offers PTSOS for teachers who are new to teaching physics. Workshops are designed to fit into the busy nature of the newer teachers’ schedules. Please visit our PTSOS web site for complete details.
  • Modeling Instruction in Physics:
    • “Modeling Instruction was developed at ASU [Arizona State University] over two decades. It integrates insights from physics education research with classroom experience of effective in‐service teachers. In a series of intensive three‐week workshops over two years, teachers improve their physics content knowledge. They are equipped with a robust teaching methodology for developing student abilities to make sense of physical experience, understand scientific claims, articulate coherent opinions of their own and defend them with cogent arguments, and evaluate evidence in support of justified belief ; i.e., students become scientifically literate.