How Can I Get a Teaching Certification?

Find out the education and training required to become a teacher. Learn about state licensure and certification options for teaching in public and private schools. Schools offering Early Childhood Education degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Are the Requirements for Teaching Certification?

The first step toward earning your teaching certification is to pursue a bachelor's degree, typically in education or a related major, such as early childhood development. If you plan to teach at the secondary level, you might choose to major in the subject you plan to teach, while also completing teacher education requirements. As part of your degree program, you'll likely complete a student teaching requirement so you can gain hands-on experience working with children in a classroom setting.

After completing these educational prerequisites for your state, you may apply for your teaching credential, which involves passing a state-mandated exam. You may be able to obtain a credential for teaching different grade levels or subjects. If you plan on teaching in a private school, you may not need certification, since these schools set their own hiring criteria.

Job PrerequisitesBachelor's degree in education or related major, teaching credentials
Other OptionsAlternative routes are available to non-education degree-holders and vary by state; some result in a master's degree
Certification LevelsState exams, national accreditation through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards
Job Outlook*6% growth for kindergarten through elementary school teachers for 2014-2024

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Are There Alternative Routes?

Alternative routes are intended to draw in individuals who don't have a background in education, but are interested in teaching. While specific requirements vary by state, most states offer alternative routes to certification that are available to those who have at least a bachelor's degree from an accredited school. Essentially, this means you don't have to complete an entire bachelor's degree program in teacher education.

Most alternative routes involve working as a student teacher in conjunction with taking graduate-level courses in education, which can, in some cases, lead to a master's degree. Some alternative pathways also allow you to begin student teaching fairly early on in the program, while you're still completing your courses.

In cases of teacher shortages, emergency licenses may also be given to individuals to teach in high-demand subjects, such as math and science.

Is Certification Nationally Recognized?

While some states allow teachers to transfer their credentials to other states, teaching certification typically only meets the criteria for the state in which you work. If you move, you may have to meet your new state's licensing requirements.

However, you may obtain national certification for K-12 teachers offered by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). This certification is voluntary and is recognized in every state. To earn this certification, you'll need to have a portfolio of your work, in addition to passing a written exam and evaluation. You may also be able to get certified to teach a specific age group or subject.

What Is the Job Outlook for Teachers?

Job growth for teachers at the kindergarten through elementary school level was expected to grow at an average rate of 6% between 2014-2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). The Bureau notes that the best opportunities will be for those who teach bilingual education, math and science, and those who are located in urban or rural areas.

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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