How To Get Your Teacher Certificate in 7 Steps

05/19/2016

You can attend a four-year college to get your undergraduate education degree, you can get your Master's in education at a graduate program, and there are also a number of other options for people who have already received their Bachelor's degree in something other than education, but who have decided teaching is the right path for them.

Today, we're going to discuss seven steps that you, the aspiring teacher, can follow to help minimize the confusion around getting your teacher certificate.  

  • Step 1 - Think & Research: First, think about and research the various challenges and opportunities that come with a career in teaching. Ask yourself, "is  teaching something I would enjoy?" Consider experiences in the past that may have given you insight into your own aptitude towards teaching. Did you ever tutor a student in high school or volunteer with young children? Reflect on what you liked or disliked about those experiences and how that might impact a future career in teaching.  

  • Step 2 - Assess your background: Take into account your educational background and career experience. Do you have a Bachelor's degree in biology and have been working in a specialized field for the last ten years? Or do you have a degree in Psychology and are a social worker? Reviewing your situation will assist you in deciding which area you choose to teach.  

Looking for an alternative certification (not 4 year degree) program near you? Try doing a search on the left side of the screen. Be sure to select "Alternative Path to Teaching."

  • Step 3 - Assess some more: Consider which area and age group you would like to teach. Usually, the type of certificate you need varies according to the age you'll be teaching. In general, your options are elementary school, high school, or special education at either the elementary or high school level. In some states, a special certificate is required for teaching preschool students as well.

  • Step 4 - Search Programs: Now that you have assessed your situation and have decided which age group you would like to teach, begin researching teacher training programs to get your teacher certificate. While there are many factors to consider when selecting a program (location, cost, selectivity) we encourage you to think about the quality of programs. Fortunately, if you search on Path to Teach you can find information on the quality of training at over 2,400 programs nationwide.  

Search the quality of colleges of education in your area which offer an education degree program. Use the search bar on the left side of the screen. 

  • Step 5 - Student Teaching Opportunities: Make sure the program you choose has ample opportunities for you to gain hands on experience in the classroom. Student teaching is vital to any teacher prep program. Think of it as that internship you had back in undergrad, it prepared you for your career, right? So does student teaching!

  • Step 6 - Review Program Requirements: Review the requirements of the teaching certification program. In addition to the length and cost of each program.

  • Step 7 - Apply: Once you have decided on a teaching certification program, apply! Be sure to pay careful attention to deadlines and to fill out application paperwork in its entirety.

Following these steps is the best way to start your path to becoming a teacher off right. Good luck!

— Katie Flanigan
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