Do You Need a Degree in Education to Be a Teacher?

Learn about the alternative teacher certification programs available to professionals with graduate-level education, work experience or a bachelor's degree in another subject. Find out about your options for a teaching career, even if you don't have an education degree. Schools offering Education degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Traditional Teacher Education Programs

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most elementary school teachers have earned an education degree ( In addition, most middle and secondary school teachers have completed a teacher education program and also earned a degree in the subject area in which they wish to teach. Most schools require students to either pursue a double major in education and another subject area or enroll in a teacher education training program while completing additional coursework for their major.

These degree and training programs prepare graduates to meet their state's teacher certification requirements. These requirements often include graduating from an accredited teacher education program, completing a student teaching experience (usually part of the degree program) and passing pedagogy tests, such as the Praxis series of exams.

Important Facts About Becoming a Teacher

Degrees Bachelor's degree, master's degree
Common Courses Foundations of education, literacy, educational psychology, classroom management, practicum
Key Skills Communication, patience, creativity, resourcefulness
Job Outlook (2012-2022) 12% (for all kindergarten and elementary school teachers)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Alternatives to Education Degrees

Many school systems offer alternative routes to certification that don't require you to have an education degree. These programs are most commonly found in urban or rural school districts facing teacher shortages. In addition, the greatest opportunities are usually found in the areas of special education, science, foreign language education and mathematics. To be admitted to these alternative certification programs, you must have a bachelor's degree that meets minimum GPA requirements. You may also need to pass a skills or subject-area assessment exam prior to admission.

College and University Certificate Programs

Some states grant entry-level or provisional certification to students who complete alternative teacher education certificate programs offered by colleges and universities. Coursework in these programs focuses on the development of your practical teaching skills. You'll study topics that include classroom management, educational technology and educational psychology. You will also need to complete a student teaching internship before being granted certification.

School District-Sponsored Training Programs

Training in a school district-sponsored training program begins with a 3-6 month session offered on an elementary, middle or high school campus. You'll take classes in pedagogy and classroom management. This classroom training is followed by a 1-year teaching internship where you'll network with mentoring teachers and administrators. These internships can also be accompanied by coursework on weekends and evenings during the school year. After completing these 1-2 year programs you'll be certified to teach. These programs, like most other alternative teacher training programs, are not available in all states and depend on the needs of local school districts.

Other Certification Options

In some states, if you have more than ten years of work experience in your field, you may be eligible to receive a provisional teaching certification on the basis of your experience. You must pass a written exam in the area of your expertise and submit employer recommendations to receive provisional certification. This type of certification may also be available to you if you have a master's degree and experience as a college faculty member, or if you are a veteran with six years of active duty service. Provisional certification will allow you to apply for teaching jobs and begin your teaching career. Depending on the state, full certification may require additional training or may only require that you complete one full year of classroom teaching.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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