Earning an associate teaching degree can help prepare you to take one of two teaching career paths. Those with associate teaching degrees are qualified to work as childcare providers, Head Start teachers, teacher’s aides and pre-school teachers. Most teaching jobs in the public school system, however, mandate teachers to be certified by the state. State certification requires, at a minimum, a bachelor’s degree. Students who wish to become teachers can also use their associate degree as a starting point to obtaining a bachelor’s degree.
Associate-level concentrations revolve around caring for and teaching younger children, from birth through elementary school, and often focus on early childhood education, early childhood development, paraprofessional education and elementary education. It’s also important to note that curricula vary by concentration, but most associate teaching degree programs include coursework in early childhood curriculum, infant and toddler care, how children play, child development and child psychology. A good two-year teaching program will include an internship or field experience that allows the students to observe and build hands-on experience through an in-classroom practicum.
Teachers impact lives on a daily basis. While challenging, many feel no job is more rewarding. The path to becoming a teacher begins, appropriately, with education. At a minimum, teachers are required to have a bachelor’s degree in education, as well as proficiency in the particular subject they wish to teach. In-classroom experience is also a requirement for earning a bachelor’s degree and obtaining state certification or licensure, so an online teaching degree cannot be fully earned online. Students will need to earn hundreds of hours of supervised field experience. Teachers are certified by the state in which they teach, and may have to fulfill other requirements, such as passing special tests to earn certification. Bachelor’s teaching degree should prepare students on all these fronts, so ask the following questions when evaluating programs:
A typical bachelor’s teaching degree program requires a combination of general education courses, major courses, and electives. Bachelor’s teaching degree students traditionally focus on a specific grade range, as outlined below.
Early Childhood Education teachers focus on birth through third grade, including preschool and kindergarten. A student majoring in Early Childhood Education will take courses in instructional strategies and methodologies, child development, and assessment techniques.
Elementary Education teachers work with students through eighth grade. Because this is a broad span of grades, many teachers will also specialize in a particular subject, such as math, social studies, English or art. Elementary Education majors typically take courses in subjects like educational foundations, elementary curriculum and methods, language arts, technology in the classroom, child and adolescent behavior, student assessment and classroom management.
Secondary Education teachers work with high school students. Secondary Education degree courses generally focus on subjects such as secondary teaching methods, classroom management, curriculum planning, adolescent psychology, student assessment techniques, and educational technology. In addition, most students enrolled in a secondary education program will concentrate in a particular subject, such as science, history or math.
Master’s teaching degrees offer an opportunity for teachers seeking advancement the opportunity to develop, expand or enhance their current skillsets. While usually not needed at the entry point, some school districts require that their teachers earn a master’s within five years of entering the profession. Teachers with master’s degrees also earn higher salaries than their counterparts with bachelor’s degrees. As teachers learn new methods, they can apply their new knowledge immediately in their classrooms. It’s not necessary to already be a teacher, however, to earn a master’s teaching degree. People with undergraduate degrees in a particular subject can enroll in a master’s teaching degree program that leads to teacher certification in that subject.
The master’s in teaching curriculum emphasizes advanced coursework in a specific academic discipline to enhance the student’s knowledge in that subject area. Classes about teaching methodology and approaches will focus on practical teaching skills for use in the classroom. Some teaching master’s are designed for experienced teachers and others are for people who hold bachelor’s degrees and want to become first-time teachers. First-time teachers should look for a master’s that offers opportunity to work as a student teacher and earn hands-on experience in a classroom. Also, similar to coursework at the bachelor’s level, master’s students can specialize in a subject such as mathematics or science to work toward a more targeted advanced degree.
Many teachers decide to pursue a master’s degree because they want to become better at their job. Graduate school also offers an opportunity to gain expertise in a particular subject or teaching specialty. This is a benefit for those who wish to become highly qualified teachers, as outlined by the No Child Left Behind Act. To be deemed highly qualified, one must have at least a bachelor’s degree, full state certification, and proof of knowledge in each subject taught. Middle and high school teachers can provide evidence of subject expertise if they have achieved any of the following:
Teachers who wish to become school administrators should pursue a master’s of education. To learn more about the master’s of education degree, click on the link below.Find out more
In the 1980s, to help alleviate teacher shortages, education policymakers developed ways for qualified and talented individuals to become teachers without earning a teaching degree. Called alternative certification programs, the programs recruited persons with a bachelor’s in a subject taught in school who had graduated with a strong grade point average. Candidates would have to pass a subject test before they were placed in a classroom, where they would undergo rigorous mentoring. Today, the process is generally a bit more rigorous, and colleges and universities are offering what are called accelerated teaching programs aimed at recent graduates with bachelor’s degrees or mid-career professionals who wish to become teachers. Most schools, however, offer accelerated teaching degrees only in areas that are in high demand in their state, such as middle school and high school science and math.
Accelerated teaching programs typically take between nine and 18 months to complete. Schools look for candidates who earned a 3.0 or higher grade point average on previously completed college-level work. Recommendations from former professors or professional colleagues are usually also required. Some schools also ask candidates to undergo a background check. Most accelerated teaching programs require students to pass the Praxis I exam before they can be admitted to the program. This test measures basic skills in reading, writing, and mathematics and is designed to evaluate whether a person has the academic skills needed to prepare for a career in education. Accelerated teaching programs prepare students to take the Praxis II exam, which measures knowledge of specific K-12 subjects, as well as teaching skills and knowledge. The Praxis II test is required in most states as part of the teacher licensing and certification process.
There are two main types of accelerated teaching programs, those where students earn an advanced degree and those that are non-degree granting where students earn a certificate. Both types of programs prepare candidates for teacher licensing and certification. States do have different requirements when it comes to alternative certification, so it’s important to research the pre-requisites specific to an area.
Accelerated Teaching Degree Programs Some colleges offer dual degree programs where students can earn a bachelor’s in a specific subject and a master’s in teaching just five years. These programs combine the benefits of a broad liberal arts education at the undergraduate level with a professional education at the graduate level, while allowing students to complete both degrees in less time and for less cost. Accelerated teaching master’s degrees are also available as stand-alone options. These intensive programs prepare students to begin teaching in the classroom in as little as seven months.
Accelerated Teaching Certificates The majority of accelerated teaching programs are offered in the form of certificate programs at the graduate level of study. They generally prepare students for initial teacher certification. Most accelerated teaching certificate programs require a combination of classwork related to teaching methods and in-classroom student teaching experience. Some colleges allow students to utilize their certificate credits toward earning a master’s degree in teaching.
Just like their students, teachers benefit from continuing their education. Ongoing professional development allows teachers to not only build their own subject-matter mastery, but to remain up-to date on the latest pedagogical trends, the latest research on learning, the newest technology tools to improve the learning experience, and the hottest curriculum resources. Besides the desire to transition from a good to great educator, teachers typically enroll in Continuing Education Courses (CEC), also called Continuing Education Units (CEU) for the following four reasons:
Continuing education courses are available in myriad formats, providing flexibility to the working educator. Common formats include workshops, online learning, correspondence, and in-person, class-based instruction. The various forms of continuing educator afford teachers to develop professionally in comfortable settings—whether through collaborative efforts with other educators or in a self-paced online course. For more information, please refer to our Continuing Education Guidebook.
Today’s children are growing up in an increasingly interconnected world, one grounded firmly in technology. In turn, the once traditional learning experience in blackboard covered walls and chalk dust-filled air has morphed to one that contains data projectors, computers, and interactive white boards. Research conducted during the past two decades has revealed and confirmed that technology can have a positive impact on student learning, enhancing and supporting the individual student’s ability to develop knowledge. In turn, the teachers of tomorrow need to possess both an understanding of technology, but how to use that technology in the classroom to modify and enrich their curriculum. Examples of that technology include computers, digital microphones, interactive whiteboards, mobile devices and tablets. In addition to computer hardware, teachers should also have knowledge of and a comfort level with software, online media, and other learning tools. Teachers may not only use these types of materials to augment their curriculum, but use them for grading, taking attendance, lesson plan creation, communication with parents and more.
Indeed, technology has transformed how students receive and process information, and teachers should be equipped with the right skills, knowledge, and abilities to leverage that technology in the classroom. For more information, please refer to our Education Technology Guidebook.
Like students in all other disciplines, prospective teachers should start their enrollment process by completing the Free Application for Federal Financial Aid (FAFSA). The Department of Education and nearly all community colleges and universities use the FAFSA to determine a student’s eligibility for financial aid, which is available through a variety of sources:
In addition to any needs-based financial support, such as a Pell Grant, students in teaching degree programs may also apply for scholarships to pay for their college costs. Scholarships are designed for different purposes, whether to support academic excellence in a field of study, assist women or minorities to complete their education, or merit-based on a candidate’s academic and extracurricular profile. Teaching scholarships are available from different sources, including private donors, state foundations, nonprofits, businesses, national organizations, and more. One of the largest providers of scholarships is the Federal Government through the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant (TEACH). Under a TEACH grant, students receive $4,000 per year to complete the education required to become a teacher. In return, teachers must agree to teach for four years in a high-need subject at a school that provides services to students from low-income families. In addition to grant programs like TEACH, the Federal Government also supports a loan forgiveness program for teachers as well. Loan forgiveness is designed to attract students to the field of teaching and covers two areas: loan cancellation for Federal Perkins loans and loan forgiveness for Subsidized and Unsubsidized Direct and Federal Stafford loans. . Under the loan forgiveness program, teachers are eligible for forgiveness for a total up to $17,500 on their loans if they meet certain requirements, such as teaching for five consecutive academic years in approved schools that serve low-income populations.
The requirements to become a teacher vary from state to state. Interested in becoming a teacher? Select your state to learn more.
There are many different types of teachers, to fit a range of interests and personality types – from technology to art, language, and more. Learn more about specific types of teaching careers below.
Special education teachers work with students with disabilities, creating instruction plans specially designed to meet a student’s educational, social, emotional and vocational needs. A classroom-based or online degree in special education can lead to a challenging, yet rewarding career. According to the 2013-2014 PayScale College Salary Report, 83 percent of special education teachers believe their jobs make the world a better place, second only to nurses at 86 percent. At a minimum, a bachelor’s degree is required to become a special education teacher, and some states require a master’s in special education. Programs generally include a combination of classroom and practical experience and usually lead to teacher certification or licensure in the state where the program is offered. Students should look for special education degree programs that have been accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) in conjunction with the Council for Exceptional Children.Find out more Additional Resources: Five Qualities Needed to Get a Job in Special Education Council for Exceptional Children National Association of Special Education Teachers
Education technologists work in fields such as instructional design, program assessment, curriculum development, and e-learning. They are responsible for integrating technology into learning environments ranging from the traditional public-school classroom, a place of higher learning, or even a military institution. Those graduating from an educational technology degree program will find many occupational doors open to them and could become corporate trainers, instructional designers, K-12 teachers, or perform in any niche position in which technology is key to instruction and learning. Many different types of technology education degrees are available, and are often referred to as instructional technology degrees. These educational technology degrees are available from the bachelor’s to doctoral level. Students graduating with a degree in educational technology with teacher licensure as a goal will want to ensure sure their program is accredited through the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education.Find out more Additional Resources: Association for Educational Communications and Technology International Society for Technology in Education State Educational Technology Directors Association
Early childhood educators work with students who are ages three to eight, and sometimes younger, to help prepare them for the learning and instruction that will take place in kindergarten or the grades following. These educators understand the specific developmental changes that occur at a young age in terms of language and motor skills and help children begin to understand basic learning concepts and build upon them. They work in daycare centers, Head Start programs, early-learning centers, and even K-3 educational settings. Typically, an associate degree is needed to work in early childhood education with children who are ages five and younger. Certification and diploma programs may also be available, but graduates who want to work in a Head Start program, which promotes school readiness in children from low-income families, need to have a minimum of an associate degree.Find out more Additional Resources: National Association for the Education of Young Children National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators Occupational Outlook Handbook – Preschool Teachers
Art education teachers work with students in different grade levels, teaching them about color and design, painting and drawing, and possibly sculpture or mixed media. They oversee projects for many students, sometimes hundreds; organize and order supplies, and assess students on their learning and potential. Art education is important in a school, as PBS reports, because it may lead to improved academic achievement, at least for younger students. It also teaches students how to think critically and be inventive. A bachelor’s degree in art education is typically needed to teach art at the K-12 level, although students can also pursue a double degree in education and the fine arts. The bachelor’s level degree teaches students the fundamentals of art while also putting them en route to teacher licensure. Art education degree programs such as these generally enable students to gain real-life skills through a semester of student teaching and typically lead to teacher certification or licensure in the state where the degree is being pursued.Find out more Additional Resources: Arts Education Partnership National Art Education Association National Association of Schools of Art and Design
Broadly defined, bilingual education involves teaching academic content in two languages, one a native and one a secondary tongue. Bilingual education teachers teach English and enable English speakers to learn a second language. They may help immigrants acculturate to American society, while still preserving their cultural heritage. Sometimes classrooms are composed of only English language learners (ELLs), and sometimes they also include native English speakers who are learning Spanish, Chinese, Navajo, or some other language. Bilingual teachers should ideally be fluent in English and one or more languages. They usually have a bachelor’s degree in education and an endorsement as have completed a bilingual educator endorsement program. They must also attain state certification in order to teach in public schools. Master’s degrees in bilingual education are available for those who want to further specialize in the field.Additional Resources: National Association for Bilingual Education Multilingual Children’s Association Rethinking Schools Magazine – Bilingual Education Articles
Elementary school teachers typically work with students from kindergarten through fourth or fifth grade. They often teach many subjects, such as reading, science, and social studies, throughout the course of the day. In some schools, the teachers and students spend most of their time in one classroom. Teachers may escort students to assemblies; to classes taught by other teachers, such as art or music; or to recess. In some schools with older students, teachers work in teams, with each teacher specializing in one or two subjects. All states mandate that elementary school teachers who teach in public school have at least a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. Some states also these teachers to major in a content area, such as math or science. Teacher education programs teach future elementary educators how to present information to young students and how to work with young students of varying abilities and backgrounds. Some states may require that teachers earn a master’s degree after receiving their teaching certification.Additional Resources: Association of American Educators National Education Association Occupational Outlook Handbook – K and Elementary School Teachers
Teachers of English as a Second Language (ESL) or English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) instruct non-native English speakers, ranging from children to adults. Their goal is to teach them to speak, read and write English. ESL teachers also teach students about the different cultures of English-speaking populations like the United States and England. ESL teachers can work in American public schools instructing immigrant children, teach adults in ESL programs, or work abroad teaching English to those who speak other languages. Most states require ESL teachers to have a bachelor’s degree, teaching certification, and an ESL certification endorsement. Teachers can also earn a master’s degree or graduate certificate, such as Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) or English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). Those who wish to teach abroad will need a visa to travel, work and live in the country in which they’ll be teaching.Additional Resources: Directory of ESL Professional Organizations TESOL International Association Center for Adult English Language Acquisition
Foreign language teachers primarily teach languages other than English at a variety of educational levels, from elementary school through college. They are responsible for teaching students to speak, write, and understand a new language. Often, they help the language come alive for students by exploring the cultures of the countries where the language is spoken. As a way to immerse students, classes are often taught completely in the foreign language. French and Spanish are the most commonly taught foreign languages in the United States. Others include German, American Sign Language, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Latin, Russian, and Arabic. Foreign language teachers must be proficient in the language they teach, either because they are native speakers or have studied the language and become fluent. While a bachelor’s degree and state teaching certification is required, many teachers also go on to obtain a master’s in teaching a foreign language. These master’s programs will focus on equipping teachers with the skills needed to teach a foreign language, versus on exploring a language in greater depth.Additional Resources: American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages American Foreign Language Teachers Association Foreign Language Teaching Methods
High school teachers work with students in ninth through twelfth grades, preparing them to enter the workforce or go to college. They usually specialize in one subject area, such as math, science, or history and may teach several different classes within that subject area. A high school science teacher, for example, could teach courses in biology, chemistry, or physics. High school teachers also often work with different grade levels throughout the day. Some high school teachers coach sports and advise student clubs and other groups. High school teachers must be certified by the state in order to teach in public schools. They’re typically are awarded a secondary or high school certification, which allows them to teach the seventh through the twelfth grades. While certification requirements vary by state, all require a bachelor’s degree, completion of a teacher preparation program, and student teaching experience. Most states also require high school teachers to have majored in the subject area they will be teaching, such as chemistry or history. Some states require high school teachers to earn a master’s degree after earning their teaching certification.Additional Resources: National High School Association Association of American Educators Occupational Outlook Handbook – High School Teachers
Math and/or science teachers typically teach middle and high school students. They might teach several sections of the same subject, such as algebra, or teach more than one area within their discipline. A math teacher, for example, might teach algebra, geometry, and calculus. A science teacher could teach biology, chemistry and physics. Match and science teachers are expected to teach students the basic standards set by the state’s Department of Education. At a minimum, math or science teachers must have a bachelor’s degree and typically complete a combination of course work in education studies with a concentration in a content area, such as physics or biology. They may also hold a double major in education and a content area in which they wish to teach. Some states will require teachers to earn a master’s degree after earning their teaching certification.Additional Resources: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics National Science Teachers Association National Education Association – STEM Teachers
Middle school teachers work with students in sixth through eighth grade, although some may teach students as early as fourth grade or as late as ninth grade. They build on the fundamentals taught in elementary school and prepare students for the more difficult curriculum taught in high school. In many schools, middle school teachers are responsible for only some of the subjects their students learn throughout the day. For example, one teacher may be responsible for teaching English and social studies while another is responsible for teaching math and science. In other schools, one teacher may teach all the subjects for one grade. Some middle school instructors also teach specialized classes, such as art, music, or physical education. All states require public middle school teachers to have at least a bachelor’s degree, with either a major in elementary education or a major in a content area, such as math or science. Those who major in a content area typically enroll in their university’s teacher preparation program and take classes in education and child psychology in addition to the classes required by their major. Teacher education programs teach prospective middle school teachers how to present information to students and how to work with students of varying abilities and backgrounds. Programs typically include a student teaching component. Some states require middle school teachers to earn a master’s degree after receiving their initial teaching certification.Additional Resources: Association of Middle Level Education Association of American Educators National Education Association
In the public school system, music teachers work with students of all ages. At the elementary school level, they focus on instilling an appreciation for music and teaching music fundamentals. Some students might also begin learning how to play an instrument while in elementary school. Students at the middle school level learn more advanced music concepts and may participate in a choir or school band led by the music teacher. High school music teachers continue to work with students in choir or bands and help train those who are serious about pursuing a career in music. Music teachers in public schools will need a bachelor’s degree in music education or music performance, as well as teaching certification. Teachers should have a musical background in singing, playing instruments or both. In fact, most colleges require students who wish to study Music Education to audition for admission into the program. Music education programs, available at the bachelor’s and master’s levels, generally prepare students to teach kindergarten through twelfth grade.Additional Resources: National Association for Music Education Essential Characteristics for Music Teachers Effective Music Teaching
As distance learning continues to rise in popularity, the demand for online teachers is also increasing. Online teachers help students learn without face-to-face interaction and live discussion. At the high school level, virtual teachers monitor students in several courses, grade assignments, interact through message boards or emails, and should be available when students have questions. The curriculum for online high school classes is often pre-determined by the school and online teachers are generally expected to follow a particular syllabus for each course. In order to qualify for an online teaching position, applicants must generally meet the same requirements as traditional teachers. High school online teachers must have a bachelor’s degree and a teaching license, while community college and university-level instructors need a master’s or doctoral degree. None of these qualifications, however, guarantee that someone will be a good online teacher. Online teaching training is not offered within the typical teacher educator programs. Instead, teachers who wish to teach online typically complete an online teaching course. These are offered by schools and by professional teacher associations.Additional Resources: International Association for K-12 Online Learning United States Distance Learning Association A Day in the Life of a Virtual Schoolteacher
Physical education teachers work at the elementary, middle or high school levels. They teach fundamentals of health and fitness and employ a wide range of exercise and sporting activities to engage students. Physical education teachers are trained to motivate students at all levels of physical fitness and ability. To be certified to teach in the public school system, physical education teachers need a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education. Classes vary from school to school, but include such disciplines as exercise physiology, kinesiology, health and wellness, as well as student teaching experience. Most physical education teachers also have cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification.Additional Resources: National Association for Sport and Physical Education American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance The Roles and Responsibilities of the Physical Education Teacher
The success of all students hinges on their ability to read proficiently. In fact, preventing reading failure is a top priority in the education field, and why reading teachers are so important. Reading teachers work at all grade levels, primarily working with students who are learning to read or with those having difficulty with reading comprehension. To be effective, reading teachers must understand how literacy develops in children, know a variety of ways to teach reading, and be able to assess progress. Excellent reading teachers are able to tailor their instruction to individual student needs and provide a broad range of reading materials and texts. Students who wish to become reading teachers begin by earning a bachelor’s degree in reading instruction or literacy education, or a teaching degree with a reading concentration. A bachelor’s degree trains reading teachers to assess children’s reading skills, promote student literacy, and incorporate technology into reading instruction. Master’s degree programs focus on specific areas of reading or literacy, such as bilingual literacy, children’s literature, and remedial reading education. Doctoral degree programs are also available in these areas, as well as in adult literacy.Additional Resources: Teaching Reading IS Rocket Science International Reading Association Scholastic’s Website for Reading Teachers
Teachers come in all shapes, sizes and personalities. For example, an early childhood educator might have an extra dose of patience in her pocket, while a mathematics professor might possess an extraordinary amount of logic and organization. However, many educators share core skills, traits and interests that pulled them into the profession. See if a career in teaching is right for you.
Many teachers have special skills, knowledge, and talents that help them teach, lead, and inspire. Do you have what it takes to be a teacher? Answer the following 10 questions to find out.
You scored 100% – PUBLIC HEALTH IS A GREAT FIT
It looks like a career in teaching may not be a great fit. However, you may possess the various attributes necessary to succeed in other education-related careers, including librarian, curriculum developer or administrative assistant.
It looks like you possess some of the skills, traits and interests shared by today’s most successful teachers. However, you may need to develop certain areas during your education or training to maximize your effectiveness in the classroom and with students. Every teacher needs to improve continuously, so you may have exactly what it takes to be a successful educator.
It looks like you have many of the attributes found in today’s top teachers. A formal degree program, combined with student teaching, can help you hone those skills and apply them to the classroom environment, subject matter, and grade level in which you choose to focus.
It looks like a career in public health may not be a great fit. However, you may possess the attributes necessary to succeed in other health-related careers.
It looks like you possess some of the skills, traits and interests shared by today’s most successful public health professionals. However, you may need to develop certain areas during your education or training to maximize your effectiveness in the workplace.
It looks like you have many of the attributes found in today’s top public health professionals. A formal degree program can help you hone those skills and launch a lucrative career.
High school and college students who know they want to be teachers tend to follow a fairly traditional path into the profession. Others, however, may get the calling a bit later in life, and take other approaches to becoming teachers. Traditional and non-traditional paths will vary by specialty, state and institution. Yet nearly every aspiring teacher will encounter certain “decision points” and milestones along the way. The timelines below take a look at the two approaches to becoming a teacher, highlighting when certain key decisions need to be made. They will help you understand your choices and get you started in the right direction from the get-go.
Choose an accredited teaching program in the state in which you want to work or a school whose program is accepted in the state in which you want to work. This will facilitate earning your teaching credential upon graduation.
If you are applying directly to a teaching program, the school may require you to complete the Praxis I test, which measures that measure basic skills in reading, math, and writing.
Depending on the school, you will most likely spend freshman and sophomore years fulfilling liberal arts core requirements and taking introductory teaching classes. This is the time to explore the different teaching careers so you can start honing down on which ones interest you the most.
By the end of sophomore year, you should have determined what grade level you want to teach and whether you want to specialize in a specific subject. Most colleges will require you to declare a major or concentration by the end of your fourth semester. Students who have not completed the Praxis I test may also need to do so at this point. This is a good time to confirm that your program requirements are in line with teaching certification requirements in the state in which you want to teach.
During your junior year most of your classes will be related to your teaching major. Some will explore general teaching subjects in more depth than the introductory classes, and others will focus on your intended area of specialization. Your teaching program will offer some type of in-classroom student teacher experience during your junior or senior years. This is an important requirement for certification. Note that most school systems will require student teachers to undergo a background check and be fingerprinted.
Specialized teaching courses continue throughout your senior year. If you haven’t done so already, you will need to fulfill the student teacher requirement. This generally entails observing and/or working in a real classroom for a period of eight to ten weeks, and is a requirement for certification in most states.
Teachers who wish to work in the public school system must be licensed. Candidates for initial teacher licensure or certification are usually required to have a bachelor’s degree, completed student teaching requirements, passed certain qualifying exams like the Praxis II, and undergone a criminal background check and fingerprinting. Know what your state requirements for teacher licensure are, and get your certification as soon as you graduate.
You may want to consider a master’s degree in your teaching specialty, either to gain additional knowledge or for career advancement. Some states require teachers to earn a master’s degree in order to maintain certification. Master’s degree candidates can choose to attend college full-time or complete their degree on a part-time basis while still earning an income as a teacher. As with any undergraduate program, choose an accredited master’s teaching program that’s accepted in the state in which you want to work.
Obtain a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. The specific major does not matter.
If you’ve served in the military, you have much to offer students in the classroom. Decide whether you’re interested in becoming a teacher, and if so, what type. If you have a bachelor’s degree or are studying for a bachelor’s degree through the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the Troops to Teachers Program (TTT) can help facilitate your way into the classroom.
Many people have fulfilling careers and decide midway through life they’d like to give back by becoming teachers. They want to share their knowledge and experience and become role models for the next generation. Individuals with specific subject expertise in math, science, foreign languages, and technology are in high demand. Work is usually at the high school level.
TTT does not train or certify teachers, but rather helps veterans find and enter the programs that do. Veterans usually need to complete a teacher preparation program. TTT also provides financial assistance for fulfilling any additional education requirements, in exchange for a three-year commitment to teach in a high needs area or school.
While individuals who’ve had professional careers are experts in a particular subject, they still need to learn how to teach. Alternative certification programs are specifically designed for career changers who didn’t major in education when they went to college. Most colleges and even some state departments of education offer alternative certification programs.
State certification requirements are generally different for veterans and career changers than they are for newly graduated teachers. In addition to having a bachelor’s degree and completing a teacher education program, candidates might need to pass certain tests to demonstrate subject knowledge. A criminal background check and fingerprinting are also required.
Some states allow veterans and career changers to begin teaching while they’re still in the process of becoming certified. While there is never a guarantee of getting a job, individuals with life experience and subject matter expertise will always be in demand as teachers.