What are the requirements to become a teacher?
Public school teachers must be licensed, and to become licensed, you must have a bachelor's degree, complete a teacher training program, and complete supervised practice teaching. Most teaching degrees are granted in early childhood education, elementary education, secondary education, and special education. Many secondary education majors also choose a specialization, such as a foreign language, math, or science. Once a teaching education is complete, you are eligible to sit for your state's licensing exam, which is administered by your state's Board of Education.
What kinds of teaching degrees are available?
Undergraduate teaching degrees include those in early childhood education for pre-kindergarten ages; elementary education for kindergarten through sixth grade; secondary education for seventh through 12th grade; special education for special needs students; and counseling to serve on the guidance end of education. Secondary education majors will pick a subject area to teach, such as English, math, science, or history. Most teachers eventually pursue a master's degree; in fact, many states require an advance degree to maintain licensure. All teachers interested in administration positions, such as principal or an instructional leadership position, will need at least a master's of education (M.Ed.), if not an educational doctorate (Ed.D.). For more on teaching degree areas, take a look at "Teaching Career Specialties" from our partner site, Teaching.org.
How do I become licensed to be a teacher?
Every state has its own requirements for licensure. After completing an approved teacher preparation program, you will have to take an exam. Most states use the Praxis series of exams. Check with your state's board of education to find out exactly what requirements you need to meet before you can take the exam. School Jobs at EpiCenter.net offers a handy list of links to each state's teacher certification requirements.
Do I need to be licensed in every state in which I want to teach?
You must have a license to teach in a public school, but most states accept licenses from other states through reciprocity agreements. If you already hold a teaching license in your state, but are planning to move to a new state, contact that state's board of education to find out what their requirements are. Check out WantToTeach.com for links to all state departments of education.
I already have a bachelor's degree, but I would like to become a teacher. Are there programs for people like me?
To help combat the nation's teaching shortage, there are a number of programs in place to help aspiring teachers gain the credentials through non-traditional means. Usually referred to as alternative licensure, such programs offer people with bachelor degrees courses in teacher preparation and student teaching opportunities. In many cases, bachelor's degree holders can complete the teacher preparation in a year and become fully certified to teach in their state. Programs like this are offered through colleges and universities that have agreements with local school districts to host student teachers and hire them upon program completion.
Other options include programs such as Teach for America, which places recent college graduates in understaffed inner city schools, extremely rural schools, or on reservations to teach. After completing a training program, teaching candidates are placed in the schools with the greatest need for teachers. Your state's department of education should be a great source for finding out more information about alternative paths to becoming a teacher.
Can I get a teaching degree online?
While the majority of online teaching programs are aimed at current teachers who want to boost their credentials, there are some options for undergraduate teacher training programs. All of the courses are done online, but it is up to the online student to seek out student teaching opportunities in the local area. Online teaching programs all have a student teaching requirement for graduation. For more information on an online teaching degree, please read "Online Options in Teacher Education", or for a more in-depth look at online programs, "Guide to an Online Teaching Education" from our partner site, Teaching.org.
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