What Is a Teaching Certificate?

Some aspiring educators may be confused about the difference between teaching certification and teaching certificates. Teacher certification is another term for the licensure required to teach in public schools, while a teaching certificate is awarded upon completion of an academic program. Read on to learn more about teacher certification and certificate programs. Schools offering Early Childhood Education degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Teacher Certification Defined

Teacher certification, also called teacher licensure, is the credential that permits educators to instruct students at the elementary, middle and high school levels. All states require teachers to obtain certification to work in public schools, and some private schools also prefer to hire certified teachers.

To become certified, you're required to complete a bachelor's-degree curriculum from an accredited teacher-training program and a student-teaching internship. You may then be required to pass a skills test, such as the PRAXIS examination. Certification generally must be renewed every 4 to 8 years, depending upon the state.

Important Facts About This Field of Study

Prerequisites Passing a background check is required for certification
Common Courses Foundations of teaching, assessment methods, curriculum development
Online Availability Fully online programs available
Continuing Education Most states require some amount of continuing education hours for teachers to maintain licensure, specific requirements vary by state

Alternative Certification

There are also other routes to gaining teacher certification. Alternative certification is available to aspiring educators who did not complete teacher-training programs but who hold bachelor's degrees in the subjects they wish to teach. To gain licensure, you may be required to take additional coursework in education while earning 1 to 2 years of experience in classroom instruction under temporary licensure. Some states only require you to complete 1 to 2 years of graduate-level coursework to gain licensure.

Certificate Programs

Different from state-mandated certification, a certificate is awarded to graduates of educational programs that are offered by colleges and universities. You may earn a graduate-level certificate to qualify for alternative teacher licensure. Or, you might pursue a certificate to supplement a bachelor's degree or gain formal training in a specialty of the field, such as early childhood education or autism spectrum disorders.

Graduate-Level Certificate

Graduate-level certificate programs introduce aspiring teachers who already hold bachelor's degrees to the basics of teaching. Much of the curricula consist of lectures, workshops and on-the-job training. You can expect to learn how to plan a curriculum, develop your own teaching style and evaluate student performance. Student-teaching experience is an integral part of certificate programs. You'll instruct students in classrooms under the supervision of licensed teachers and might be required to pass an exit examination or evaluation in order to graduate.

Early Childhood Education Certificate

A certificate program in early childhood education is designed to prepare students for teaching or teaching assistant positions in child care facilities or classrooms. You may start out learning how to educate infants and young children then advance to coursework in child health and safety, behavior, development and community involvement. Some programs offer courses in special education or exceptional-student instruction. Early childhood education certificate programs typically incorporate a field-experience component.

Autism Spectrum Disorders Certificate

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the amount of students in special education programs has decreased. However, children with disabilities are being diagnosed and placed into special education programs earlier, and teachers rotate out of the specialty frequently (www.bls.gov). Certificate programs in autism disorders aim to qualify teachers to instruct children with autism. Courses may include autism disorder types, early intervention, positive reinforcement and special needs education. You can expect to learn how to adjust your teaching methods and curriculum to students' specific needs. You may also be required to complete a teaching practicum that provides you with hands-on experience instructing autistic children in classroom settings.

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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