Teaching is a uniquely rewarding career, giving one the opportunity to help shape minds, improve futures and make a valuable contribution to society. It is also a solid career choice, since teachers are, as always, in high demand. In fact, demand has been increasing in recent years, largely due to a steady increase in online schools competing for the services of good teachers. If you are drawn to this profession, either as a first or second career, here is what you need to know about how to get a teaching certificate.
To earn a teaching license or certificate, which you will need to qualify to teach in traditional classrooms or virtual ones, you will have to meet certain educational requirements. While these vary to some degree from one state to another according to rules set by state education boards, you can generally expect to need to hold a bachelor's degree, at minimum, and complete a teacher's education course. To teach at the college level, a master's degree is typically required. Then, most states require that candidates pass standardized exams to prove competency in the subjects and or grades they intend to teach. In many states, teacher candidates will also be required to have some teaching experience as a student teacher – under the supervision of licensed educators – to be eligible for certification/licensing. That experience is often incorporated into teacher education programs.
Education pathways to your teaching certificate
If you have decided to pursue teaching as a first career, you will likely follow the traditional path to your teacher's certificate/license, majoring or minoring in education as you earn your degree, and taking teacher education as part of your undergraduate program or immediately after graduation. However, if teaching will be your second career and you hold a bachelor's in another discipline, there are options for getting your teaching certificate that do not require that you start your education all over again.
Going back to school via a post-baccalaureate or master's level teacher education program can fill the gaps you need to address to qualify for teacher certification/licensing. While you may not need a master's for K-12 certification/licensing, having one can lead to better job opportunities and higher salaries. Post-baccalaureate and master's levels programs are offered at traditional colleges and universities around the country, and post-baccalaureate or master's level online teacher certification programs are also available in most states.
Alternative teaching certification programs are another option for bachelor's degree holders who have not taken the necessary education courses to qualify for standard teacher licensing/certification. These programs are offered in many states, often by non-profit organizations or state education departments. Some are devised to address teacher shortages, while others are meant to benefit students by bringing highly-educated, seasoned professionals into the classroom . In most alternative programs, teacher candidates will work in the classroom under the supervision of licensed teachers while simultaneously taking education classes, typically at night school or online. In most cases, candidates will work with these programs for one or two years before they receive a teaching license or certificate.
Finally, for those who wish to have the option of teaching in the virtual classroom, taking a specific course on online teaching may be wise. There are important differences between this innovative learning environment and the traditional classroom, which means that effective teaching and student engagement strategies will also be different. Taking a course specifically centered on those differences can help ensure your success in the online teaching environment, and can open doors to a wider range of job opportunities.
Find the best path to a teaching career with the Online Teaching Strategies certificate from Bryant & Stratton College Continuing Education.