Becoming a teacher is a special thing. For many, it is a calling more than a career. A typical teacher’s desire is to make a positive difference in the lives of their students.
As a child, many teachers pretended to be in front of a classroom filled with dolls and stuffed animals. Somehow, they knew at a tender age that their calling in life was to be a teacher.
Is that you? Have you long dreamed of becoming a teacher? There is more than one way to make that dream come true.
Are There Alternative Ways to Becoming A Teacher?
So, are you making a mid-life career change? Or, have you dreamed of becoming a teacher since pre-school? No matter when you decided, there are ways to make this happen.
It is time for you to explore alternative approaches to teacher certification. Learn how to get your teaching degree sooner rather than later.
While you are at it, check out the less expensive ways to obtain your degree as well. Saving both time and money while achieving your dream of becoming a teacher is a very worthy goal. (see link at bottom of the page)
It is possible for you to earn an online teaching degree. However, some of the online programs require a degree of on-site participation. Classroom observation and student teaching cannot be done online. Both are vital components of any teacher’s training.
Technically, observation can be done online. But, not with the kind of interaction desired. If absolutely necessary, however, it can be done. However, student teaching requires participation.
A totally online education degree could not provide those two critical experiences. You will need to blend the two modalities while obtaining your teaching degree. This is especially true if you wish to hold a professional teaching certificate as well.
The Traditional Path To The Classroom
Each of our 50 states has requirements and specific processes for obtaining teaching certification. Most commonly, potential teachers have previously earned a bachelor’s degree. This degree must be from an accredited academic institution.
This degree is traditionally in education. However, it may be in the primary subject they hope to teach. Most states prefer that teachers will have completed a post-baccalaureate teacher preparation program. Many states require it.
This prep program is in addition to having already earned their Bachelor’s degrees. The degree can be in either education or related majors.
Typically, it takes a year to complete one of these teacher’s prep programs. These programs are usually taken immediately upon completion of a four-year baccalaureate degree. Therefore, they may be called a 5th-year program.
Where You Plan to Teach Makes A Difference
You must check out the qualifications for a teaching license in the state where you plan to teach. If those qualifications require a teacher preparation program, consider an integrated program.
Such a program combines a bachelor’s degree in education with a teacher prep program. This allows you to complete both programs in only four years.
The completion of all academic requirements is a major achievement. However, prospective teachers are also required to pass any state-required examinations. Only then may they submit their application for a state-approved teaching certificate.
Upon approval of the application, state-certification is official. There is typically a temporary license process required prior to teachers receiving a permanent license. However, teacher certification regulations differ from state to state.
The Non-Traditional Process to Becoming a Teacher
Some states have a non-traditional process by which one can become a teacher. This is sometimes called an alternative certification process.
Do you possess a bachelor’s degree with a major other than in education? If so, this may be the fastest way to obtain your teaching certificate.
Alternative certification provides training that supplements your Bachelor’s degree. It also helps you to prepare for a classroom. This option is particularly helpful for those changing career paths.
Having to complete either a master’s degree or another bachelor’s degree would increase the time factor. Being able to reduce the time required to satisfy requirements would be a bonus.
Both alternative certification and post-baccalaureate teacher preparation programs can be taken online or on university campuses. These programs benefit states with filling severe teacher shortages.
Critical Teacher Shortages Call for Alternative Programs
Alternative programs also help schools fill critical teacher shortages. Between 2009 and 2014, enrollment in U.S. teacher education programs dropped by 35%. By 2015, teacher shortages were a problem throughout the country.
The Learning Policy Institute stated that about 8% of our teaching workforce leave positions every year. The majority of the teachers leaving are doing so before their retirement age.
Many school districts have become desperate to fill teaching vacancies. Some are desperate enough to place teachers without certification in their classrooms.
The states hardest hit with the loss of teachers are reportedly in Alaska, Oklahoma, Texas, and Illinois. Alternative certifications provide a path for prospective teachers to enter the workforce sooner.
Master’s Degree in Education vs. Alternative Certification Program
Alternative certification programs are typically considered to be post-baccalaureate certificates. They are an excellent way to enhance your Bachelor’s degree.
Some universities also offer a fast track program. This program allows students to complete a teaching credential program while simultaneously earning a master’s degree.
The combined curriculum qualifies students for a Master’s degree as well as for teacher licensure. However, these programs take significantly longer to complete than do the certification-only programs.
Most states give teachers a raise in pay when they obtain a Master’s degree. Many states even require teachers to obtain this degree after a specified number of years of teaching. A significant number of teachers complete a Master’s degree within two or three years from when they start teaching.
Licensure and Degree Requirements for U.S. Teachers
Teachers in the United States Public school systems are required to have a bachelor’s degree or higher education. It is preferred for teachers to possess a bachelor’s degree in education. However, a degree in one of the subjects taught in schools, K-12, is acceptable.
A teaching certificate is also required for teaching in the U.S. public school system. The teaching certificate must be issued by the same state in which one plans to teach.
To obtain a teaching certificate, potential teachers must satisfy the following state requirements.
- exam requirements
Many states require student teaching as part of their certificate qualification. Student teaching is typically included as a part of the curriculum to obtain a bachelor’s in education.
Student teaching is a part of many teacher prep programs. Credentialed educators moving to a different state may not have fulfilled their requirements. They need to research teaching reciprocity between states.
What It Takes To Obtain Teacher Certification
Each of our 50 states has its own regulations, policies, and laws directing their process of teacher certification. Still, the necessary steps for obtaining teaching certification are very similar.
Some states may have additional requirements. However, all states require these basic steps to become a public teacher in the United States.
1. Obtain a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution in either of the following.
- teaching, or
- the specific subject you wish to teach
2. Research your state’s requirements for licensure. If necessary, complete a teacher preparation program.
3. Take and pass your state’s required exam.
4. Submit a Teachers Certification application for the state in which you plan to teach.
Is There A Fast Way To Obtain A Teaching Degree Without A Bachelor’s Degree In Education?
Have you already earned your Bachelor’s degree? If not, the fastest path to becoming a teacher is to complete your Bachelor’s, with a major in education.
Don’t worry if you earned your Bachelor’s degree in a non-teaching related field! There are a few teaching certification programs that can fast-track you into teaching.
First, you must decide in which state you plan to teach. Then, the program you pursue must adhere to the teacher preparation guidelines for that state. Verify with the state’s Department of Education that they approve of the certification program you have chosen.
Several alternative certification programs help you get on the path to becoming a teacher.
Teach for America
Teach for America is a program that requires a minimum of a 2-year commitment. Teachers serve in a low-income region in the United States.
The Teach for America Corps provides training and support and are connected with all the required entities to help you obtain full certification.
This is a highly selective program. Applicants be a citizen, a legal resident, or a DACA recipient. They must also have a Bachelor’s Degree with at least a 2.5-grade point average (GPA).
American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence
American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence permits applicants to complete their teacher certification programs totally online.
Although students may complete classes at their chosen pace and time, the program must be completed within one year of enrollment.
To apply for this program, you must have completed a Bachelor’s Degree and pass their background check. Upon completion of the program, they will recommend that you be certified as a teacher.
You may then begin the process for credentialing in any of the following states: Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin.
This program offers a very unique feature. Students are given a “free trial” to see if it is a good fit for them.
Teach-Now is an online teacher certification program strictly for Washington D.C. or Arizona. This program takes 9 months to complete.
Their curriculum provides intensive and comprehensive modules along with virtual, synchronous classes. There are between 10 and 15 students in each group.
Each student must complete all clinical activities and projects independently.
iTeach has programs in Hawaii, Louisiana, Texas, and Nevada. These programs include a teacher prep program. It takes six months to complete this online program.
Students proceed at a time and pace of their own making, but all coursework must be done within the allotted six month period.
Upon completion of the training and testing provided within the program, students have the opportunity to teach.
The teaching experience is for a school-year in a regular classroom. Salary, including full benefits, is a part of this package.
State Specific Certification Programs
Other state-level teacher certification programs prepare you to become a teacher in that specific region. State government sites usually have information on these programs.
Are The Any Other Ways to Begin Teaching Sooner?
There may be another viable option available to you. If you possess a Bachelor’s Degree and have passed all the necessary exams, you may qualify to serve as a substitute teacher.
This is one of the quickest ways to teach in a real classroom. It also allows you to see if being a teacher is what you truly want or not.
Some start as a temporary substitute teacher and then progress to an interim teacher with longer assignments.
Working with a school district to obtain emergency credentialing is another option. If they have a difficult-to-fill position, they may be willing to offer you this kind of teaching position.
Occasionally, you may be able to find a teacher-internship program in which to participate. Your school should be able to help you with this.
Private schools can hire teachers without a certificate. So, this may be a suitable option for many. In some states, teaching in private schools may satisfy their prior teaching experience requirements.
If so, this experience will take you a step closer to becoming a certified teacher. Remember that each state has different requirements so do not make assumptions. Do your research.
Where There Is A Will, There Is A Way!
Is it your heart’s desire to become a teacher? Do you have the motivation to teach? If so, then you can make it can happen! Do not allow yourself to become discouraged.
There is a high demand for teachers across the U.S. This means that there are plenty of options available to help you to become a teacher. Online learning opportunities make those options even more attractive.
For more information on the cost of online colleges, go here. https://onlinecollegelife.info/what-does-online-college-cost/
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