Skip to main content
Skip to main navigation

Physics Teacher Education

  • Overview
  • Careers
  • New Freshmen
  • New Transfer
  • Illinois State Students

This degree program prepares one to teach physics at the high school level. Teaching physics can be a very rewarding experience. Physics teachers often work with the best and most highly motivated students. They spend their days showing and explaining the marvels of the physical universe.

Why Study Physics Teacher Education?

The study of Physics involves the branch of science which is concerned with the laws and properties of matter; physics deals with mechanics, dynamics, light, heat, sound, electricity, magnetism, materials, and elementary particles. Physicists work may range from highly complex and theoretical studies, to more practical activities which relate theory to practical needs.

Related Majors

Related Skills

  • Strong math background
  • Ability to use computers and derive data
  • Strong written and research skills
  • Ability to use theories in practice
  • Strong analytical skills
  • Logical thinker

Being Successful in the Field

  • A bachelor's degree will qualify for positions as research assistants, high level technicians, or computer specialists, as well as nontechnical work in publishing or sales.
  • An undergraduate degree also provides a solid background for pursuing advanced degrees in other employment areas such as law, engineering, business, accounting, or medicine.
  • Be aware that expertise and experience in a specialty area are usually required for employment opportunities directly related to physics.
  • A graduate degree and post-graduate experience will allow for more responsibility and advancement in the field of physics.
  • An earned doctorate is required for college or university teaching, advanced research, and administrative positions.
  • Most industries will train in the specialty of the firm.
  • A bachelor's degree and state teacher certification are required for K-12 teaching opportunities.
  • Become familiar with government job application process for positions in federal, state, or local government.
  • Visit government laboratories or research centers. Talk with a physicist about his/her profession and career path.
  • Join relevant professional associations. Attend their meetings and read their publications.
  • Gain experience with tools, electronics, and machinery.

Related Fields

Astronomy

  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Writing

Employers

  • Colleges and universities
  • Observatories
  • Planetariums
  • Science museums
  • Nonprofit foundations
  • Industry e.g., aerospace, scientific supply, mass media
  • Federal government: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Smithsonian
  • Astrophysical Observatory, U.S. Naval Observatory, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory

Strategies

  • Acquire excellent verbal and written communication skills.
  • Get involved in aresearch project.
  • Develop a specialty area of expertise and experience.

Acoustical Physics

  • Basic and Applied Research
  • Development
  • Teaching
  • Consulting
  • Administration
  • Testing

Employers

  • Colleges and universities
  • Government laboratories
  • Nonprofit research centers
  • Industry e.g., electronics, building design, medical instrumentation, communications, engineering, noise pollution, sound recording, film production

Strategies

  • Supplement program with courses in psychology, physiology, communications, political science, and sociology.
  • Obtain a graduate degree in physics for opportunities in industry.
  • Maintain an interest in music, the arts and humanities.

Astrophysics

  • Teaching
  • Consulting
  • Administration
  • Research
  • Design
  • Astronautics

Employers

  • Government laboratories
  • Research centers
  • Airports
  • Colleges and universities
  • Commercial industry
  • Space industry
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • Observatories
  • Planetariums
  • Military

Strategies

  • Obtain experience through part-time or voluntary position in a planetarium, observatory or science museum. Complete an internship with a research organization or related industry.
  • Participate in research with scholars in the field.
  • Contact the American Astronomical Society for more information.

Biophysics

  • Basic and Applied Research
  • Development
  • Teaching
  • Consulting
  • Administration

Employers

  • Colleges and universities
  • Government laboratories
  • Nonprofit research centers
  • Industry e.g., biotechnology, environment, pharmaceuticals
  • Hospitals

Strategies

  • Acquire information about state licensure required for various types of technicians working in medical settings.
  • Gain experience as a laboratory assistant

Fluid and Plasma Physics

  • Basic and Applied Research
  • Development
  • Teaching
  • Consulting
  • Administration

Employers

  • Colleges and universities
  • Government laboratories
  • Government agencies
  • Nonprofit research centers
  • Industry e.g., automobile, jet engine, space vehicle design, controlled fusion device design

Strategies

Obtain a graduate degree (master's or doctorate) for opportunities in industry or research.

Geophysics

  • Basic and Applied Research
  • Development
  • Teaching
  • Consulting
  • Administration
  • Exploration

Employers

  • Colleges and universities
  • Nonprofit research centers
  • Federal government e.g., Coast and Geological Survey, U.S. Geological Survey, Army Map
  • Service, Naval Oceanographic Office
  • Industry e.g., petroleum, mining, exploration
  • Consulting firms

Strategies

  • Specialize in geophysics or minor in geology.
  • Develop good background in mathematics, chemistry, engineering, and physics.
  • Maintain good physical condition.

Health Physics

  • Basic and Applied Research
  • Development
  • Teaching
  • Consulting
  • Administration
  • Monitoring/Inspection

Employers

  • Colleges and universities
  • Government laboratories
  • Government agencies e.g., Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Departmentof Public Health Service
  • Nonprofit research centers
  • Industry e.g., health physics instrumentation, nuclear power, nuclear weapons, radioisotope products, nuclear accelerators, nuclear reactors
  • Environmental firms
  • Hospitals

Strategies

  • Earn a Ph.D. and certification by the American Board of Health Physics (ABHP) for top university teaching, research and administrative positions.
  • Complete a master's degree and certification by the ABHP for professional health physicists’positions.
  • Specialize in health physics and obtain technician certification from the National Registry of Radiation Protection.
  • Acquire knowledge of government standards and regulations.

Other Professions

  • Acoustic Physicist
  • Aerospace Engineer
  • Agricultural Scientist
  • Astronomer
  • Biophysicist
  • Cryogenic Physicist
  • Design Engineer
  • Editor – Science
  • Electronic Molecular Physicist
  • Electro-Optical Engineer
  • Environmentalist
  • Fluids Physicist
  • Geophysicist
  • High School Teacher
  • Lab Technician
  • Metallurgist
  • Nuclear Medicine Technologist
  • Nuclear Physicist
  • Oceanographer
  • Physical Chemist
  • Physicist
  • Plasma Physicist
  • Professor
  • Project Manager
  • Quality Control Manager
  • Research & Development Engineer
  • Research Assistant
  • Sales Engineer
  • Science Laboratory Technician
  • Semi-Conductor Process Engineer
  • Solid Earth Physicist
  • Solid State Physicist
  • Teacher, Science
  • Technical Writer/Communicator
  • Test Engineer

Career Advising

Name Office Email Phone
Renee Carrigan  110 Student Services Building  rdcarugl@ilstu.edu  (309) 438-5864 

Internship Coordinator

Name Office Email Phone
Dan Holland  311B Moulton Hall  dlholla@ilstu.edu  (309) 438-8756 

Applying to Illinois State

Illinois State's preferred filing period for freshman students for the fall semester is September 1-November 15. Applying early is encouraged, as the University must limit enrollment due to space at the University and in specific majors/programs. Visit the Office of Admissions to apply today!

Plans of Study and Progress Tracking

This information is based on requirements for the academic year(s) indicated. Students should consult the catalog year they were admitted under for their academic requirements.

Applying to Illinois State

Illinois State's preferred filing period for fall transfer students is September 1-January 15. For the spring semester, the preferred filing period is from April 1-August 1. You are encouraged to apply early in the preferred filing period for best consideration for admission into competitive majors. Visit the Office of Admissions to apply today!

Minimum GPA

2.50

Middle 50% GPA

2.60 - 3.67

Required Courses

Grade of "C" or better in Calculus I (MAT 145)

Recommended Courses

  • Fundamentals of psychology (PSY 110)
  • General chemistry I and II (CHE 140 and 141)

Additional Information

It is strongly recommended that students meet the Basic Skills Requirement prior to enrollment. Visit the College of Education's website for details on acceptable ACT or SAT scores which can be used to meet this requirement.

Plans of Study and Progress Tracking

Academic Advising

Name Office Email Phone
Ken Wester  Moulton Hall 322  kwester@ilstu.edu  (309) 438-2957 

Middle 50% GPA

2.60 - 3.67

Plans of Study and Progress Tracking

Application Period

Applications are always accepted.

Application Information

Current students can use the Apply to Your Program tool on My.IllinoisState.edu.

Academic Advising

Name Office Email Phone
Ken Wester  Moulton Hall 322  kwester@ilstu.edu  (309) 438-2957 
2016-08-03T11:23:40.188-05:00 2016
©