Guide to Online Teacher Certification in Texas

Learn what steps you will need to take to become a licensed teacher in Texas. Review educational requirements and program information as well as what types of licensure and positions you can qualify for. Schools offering Early Childhood Education degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

How to Become a Teacher in Texas

There are a few routes for becoming a licensed teacher in Texas for both new educators and those with prior experience.

Standard Route for New Educators

The standard route for new educators applies to aspiring teachers who do not yet have any experience teaching and involves completing a program and passing applicable exams.

Step 1. Get a Degree

The first step in the standard route to teaching in Texas is to complete a bachelor's degree program at an accredited school. Most students need to earn their degree at a school that is recognized by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Step 2. Complete an Approved Program

Students need to complete a state-approved educator program that includes hands-on practice. Students who have not yet earned a bachelor's degree can pursue a degree in education, which includes teacher preparation, and students who already have a degree can pursue a post-baccalaureate teacher education program.

Step 3. Take and Pass Applicable Exams

After completing a teacher preparation program, students must pass teacher certification exams that are applicable to their intended subject or grade level.

Step 4. Complete State Application

After completing the previous steps, aspiring teachers can submit their application to teach through the Texas Education Agency. They'll also need to submit their fingerprints for a background check if this is their first time teaching in Texas.

Alternative Route for New Educators

Alternative routes to teaching in Texas enable aspiring teachers to teach while completing the requirements for licensure.

Step 1. Choose a Subject or Grade Level

Aspiring teachers should first select what grades and subjects they'd like to teach. This determines what type of program and certification requirements are applicable.

Step 2. Choose an Approved Program

Students will then select a state-approved Alternative Certification Program (ACP). The ACP will create an individualized plan of study for students, including any applicable courses, tests, and internships.

Step 3. Secure a Teaching Role

Students who are approved to teach while enrolled in their program will receive a statement of eligibility for employment. Using this, they'll need to obtain a teaching position relevant to their field of study.

Step 4. Obtain and Utilize a Probationary Certificate

Once a teaching position is secured, candidates can apply for a one-year probationary teaching certificate. Students should be able to complete both their program and required student teaching during the one-year probationary certificate's validity period. Students who are unable to complete all requirements can request an extension in order to complete their program.

Step 5. Complete Requirements and Obtain Standard Certification

Once all program requirements have been met, educators can apply for a standard certificate.

Out-of-State Prior Educators

Educators who are licensed in states outside of Texas can apply for a standard certificate from Texas. Candidate credentials are reviewed on a case-by-case basis to assess any requirements that may apply. In order to obtain certification, educators may need to pass a knowledge assessment or background check. Some educators may first be issued a one-year temporary certificate until certain requirements (such as necessary exams) are met.

Overview of Online Teaching Programs in Texas

There are several different types of hybrid teaching programs in Texas that prepare teachers for initial and supplemental licensure.

  • Bachelor's Degree Programs - Aspiring teachers who do not yet have a bachelor's degree can complete a hybrid bachelor's degree teacher preparation program. These programs take around four years to complete and are open to students with a high school diploma or an equivalent.
  • Master's Degree Programs - Students who have previously earned a bachelor's degree in another field can pursue a master's degree in education that leads to initial teaching licensure. These programs usually take around two years to complete and are open to students with a bachelor's degree and a minimum number of credit hours in the subject they intend on teaching.
  • Graduate Certification Programs - These programs are also open to students with a bachelor's degree and typically take fewer than two years to complete. They allow students to obtain initial teaching licensure without completing an entire master's degree program.

Online Teaching Program Format in Texas

Online teaching programs in Texas usually include mostly or completely online coursework along with on-site experiences. Depending on the program, students may complete several hours of practicum components. Practicums include observation and student teaching activities that are required to qualify for licensure in Texas.

Courses may be presented in an accelerated format (such as 7-week terms) or standard 16-week lengths. In most online courses, students are expected to submit assignments each week but can work on items at their convenience, often via a centralized learning portal.

Why Accreditation is Important for Online Teaching Programs in Texas

There are two types of accreditation that are essential to aspiring teachers in Texas: institutional accreditation and programmatic accreditation.

Institutional

Institutional accreditation applies to an entire school and represents a third party giving that school its stamp of approval. In order to earn accreditation, a school must meet specific criteria for quality and student outcomes (like graduation rates). The state of Texas requires teachers to have earned a bachelor's degree from a school that is accredited by an agency recognized by the state (Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, to be exact).

State-approved accrediting agencies include regional and national accrediting agencies. In other words, students can attend a number of institutions throughout the United States as long as they are appropriately accredited. Texas-approved accrediting organizations include seven regional accrediting bodies and ten national accrediting bodies.

Regional vs National Accreditation

While both regional and national accreditation show that a school meets specific criteria, there are key differences that students should note prior to enrolling at a school.

  • Quality - Regional accreditation is considered the most prestigious because it generally requires schools to meet stricter quality standards.
  • Admissions - Regionally accredited schools typically have more strict admissions standards, while nationally accredited schools often have more relaxed admissions standards.
  • Transfer Credits - Credits earned at regionally accredited schools can transfer to any other accredited institution, but credits earned at nationally accredited schools usually only transfer to other nationally accredited schools.
  • Tuition Reimbursement - Students in regionally accredited schools can qualify for any corporate tuition reimbursement, but students in nationally accredited schools are not always eligible.

Programmatic Accreditation/State Approval

Aspiring teachers must also graduate from a state-approved educator preparation program. Teaching programs that have specialized, programmatic accreditation from an organization like the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation usually include some or all of the requirements for teacher preparation. Although accredited programs are often excellent teacher preparation programs, students should check with the Texas Education Agency to ensure their teacher program is also state-approved.

How to Choose an Online Teacher Program in Texas

In addition to accreditation, you should consider several factors when deciding on an online teacher preparation program in Texas.

Admissions Requirements

Online programs may have different admissions requirements than their on-site counterparts. For example, working adults entering an online bachelor's degree program might not need to submit ACT or SAT scores while their on-campus counterparts may have to. When narrowing down your school and program choice, confirm that the program you are interested in is offered in the format that you need based on your previous education.

Practicum Requirements

To qualify for licensure in Texas, you'll need to complete practicum hours in educational settings. You may complete these hours together as a capstone sort of experience, or you may complete practicum hours throughout your program. While many schools allow students to complete these hours near them, it's imperative that you confirm this with your admissions counselors.

Flexibility

Some online teaching programs allow students to take courses at their desired pace, but many programs run in a cohort model. While cohort programs may offer support and networking benefits, as students progress through the program together, you will need to take and pass courses in the required order. Talk with your admissions counselors to be sure that the programs you are considering are feasible with your schedule (for example, you may specifically need a full-time or part-time option).

Cost

Online teaching programs vary in cost and typically include tuition and other program fees. You should ask each of your candidate schools for a full list of applicable fees to determine estimated costs for your entire program. Compare the total costs for each program, but keep in mind that you can qualify for many types of financial aid during an online teaching program in Texas.

Certification Requirements for Texas Teachers

Texas requires all teachers to obtain and maintain certification pertaining to the grades and subjects that they teach.

Getting Certified

In order to become certified, aspiring teachers must meet all of the following requirements.

  • Have a bachelor's degree
  • Complete a state-approved teacher preparation program
  • Pass state exams that are required for their grade/subject area
  • Submit a fingerprint background check

Texas has dozens of certifications for teachers, based on the subjects and grades they want to teach. Aspiring teachers can become certified in the following grade ranges:

  • Early childhood through grade 3
  • Early childhood through grade 6
  • Grades 4 through 8
  • Grades 6 through 12
  • Grades 7 through 12
  • Early childhood through grade 12

The subjects that teachers can become certified to teach vary based on their intended grades, but include music, reading, mathematics, computer science, health, art, science and social studies.

Maintaining Certification

Standard teacher certificates in Texas are valid for five years. To renew certification, teachers must complete the required continuing professional education (CPE) during their certificate validity period. Classroom educators are required to complete at least 150 CPE hours, and those working in student services or administrative positions must complete at least 200 CPE hours.

CPE hours can be completed through various sources, including public and private organizations. These hours can include conferences, staff and professional development, workshops, and college coursework. Teachers can complete hours through in-person activities, video conferences, and online/distance avenues. Teachers can also complete up to 20% of their CPE through independent study and up to 30% by mentoring other educators.

Texas Teachers: Career, Salary, and Outlook

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) states that the minimum salary for starting teachers (with no experience) is $33,660 as of 2019-2020; this is the bare minimum that a full-time classroom teacher will make during a 10-month school year. After 10 years, TEA states that the minimum salary for that teacher is $45,630 for the year.

Preschool Teachers

Preschool teachers work with children who are five years or younger, teaching social, motor, language and other skills. They create and implement activities and learning plans for groups of children and monitor individual student progress. The mean salary for preschool teachers in Texas as of 2018 was $34,960.

Kindergarten Teachers

As of 2018, Texas kindergarten teachers had a mean salary of $54,780. Kindergarten teachers teach kindergarten students and help prepare them for future school years. Their duties include mentoring and instructing students, assisting with behavior and character development, and communicating with parents.

Elementary School Teachers

Elementary school teachers work with students in first through sixth grades, often teaching subjects such as reading, mathematics, and social studies. Their duties include creating lessons, managing classrooms, grading students, and preparing students for tests. As of 2018, elementary school teachers in Texas had a mean salary of $56,520.

Middle School Teachers

Middle school teachers in Texas had a mean annual salary of $56,580 as of 2018. They usually work with students in grades four through eight. Middle school teachers either teach a group of subjects or focus in a specific subject area (such as mathematics).

High School Teachers

High school teachers provide instruction and mentorship to students in grades 7-12. They usually teach a specific subject, such as English or physical education, and may teach students in different grade levels throughout the day. In 2018, Texas high school teachers had a mean salary of $58,190.

Special Education Teachers

Special education teachers had a mean salary of $51,010 to $58,570, varying with the grade levels that they teach (preschool through grade 12). Special education teachers work with students who have disabilities, including mental, social, emotional and physical disabilities.

Career/Technical Education Teachers

Career and technical education teachers provide instruction to students in middle and high schools. They teach subjects such as automotive skills, culinary arts, and cosmetology. Texas middle school career/tech teachers had a mean salary of $58,410, while high school career/tech teachers had a mean salary of $60,170 as of 2018.

Job Title Mean Salary (2018, Texas only) Estimated Job Growth (2018-2028, national)
Preschool Teachers $34,960 7%
Kindergarten Teachers $54,780 4%
Elementary School Teachers $56,520 3%
Middle School Teachers (except career/technical) $56,580 3%
High School Teachers (except career/technical) $58,190 4%
Special Education Teachers $51,010-$58,570 3%
Middle School Career/Technical Education Teachers $58,410 3%
High School Career/Technical Education Teachers $60,170 2%

Salary and job growth numbers provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018

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