With a bachelor's degree in hand, you might be closer to a teaching career than you think. Teachers generally need to major in education and complete additional requirements as determined by their state. However, due to a nationwide teacher shortage and career changers, many programs exist to help those who majored in something else get on the fast track to teacher certification. Some of these programs can get you there in as a little as a year.
You may be able to earn teacher certification through an approved alternative route to teaching. Each state has established the criteria that must be met in lieu of the standard teacher preparation requirements. You can check your state's requirements online at certificationmap.com. Many states recognize ABCTE certification, an alternate route offered by the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence. ABCTE candidates pay a fee to take an online independent study course and must pass a certification exam in the area they want to teach. The average completion time is ten months. To address teacher shortages, many states allow schools to hire a candidate under an emergency or temporary provision while they earn their teacher certification.
Many colleges and universities offer a certification-only program for people who already have a bachelor's degree. You can choose between elementary or secondary education, as well as certain specialty areas like English as a second language or special education. Often the program includes a student teaching requirement, mentoring and one or two semesters of teaching methods. Some programs can be completed in a year, while others take two years or more. A secondary-only certification to teach in an area related to your college major is often the quickest bet. For example, if you were a math or English major you will make quicker ground trying to teach those subjects.
Graduate Teacher Education
There are plenty of graduate programs that either offer graduate-level certification, or that combine a master's degree with teacher's certification. Post-baccalaureate students pursuing teacher certification may qualify for financial aid that is normally only available to undergraduates, including some federal grants. Teach for America is the national teacher corps that matches college graduates with schools where they teach alongside certified teachers, earning regular wages and benefits, while also earning teacher certification and possibly a master's degree. This can be a great way to immediately begin teaching and a cost-effective way to earn certification.
Second Degree Program
If you miss your college days, you can always return for the second round and pick up a second bachelor's degree in teacher education. Many of the credits you earned from your first degree will apply to the new one. Your core or general requirements and electives should be met. It might be possible in some cases to earn the second degree in under a year. It will depend on the new program's requirements, what you want to teach and the classes you took for your first degree. Check with your school or university to find out about programs in your area.
- American Board: How It Works
- Educaton Portal: Alternative Teaching Certification Programs
- Texas Teachers Alternative Certification: How It Works
- Nicholls State University: Teacher Certification-Only Programs
- School of Education University of Michigan: Teacher Certification Programs
- Temple University College of Education: Graduate Teacher Education
- NASDEC: Interstate Agreement
- Certification Map: Emergency Teacher Certification
Sara Mahuron specializes in adult/higher education, parenting, budget travel and personal finance. She earned an M.S. in adult/organizational learning and leadership, as well as an Ed.S. in educational leadership, both from the University of Idaho. Mahuron also holds a B.S. in psychology and a B.A. in international studies-business and economics.