Teaching is one of the most rewarding careers — you get to impact the lives of so many children. The greatest reward is watching your students grow from a level of not knowing to that of understanding. Children also grow socially and emotionally under your guidance as you help them realize their full potential.
Becoming a certified teacher usually takes between four to five years. But, if you already hold a bachelor’s degree, you could enroll in an accelerated teacher certification program, become licensed in as little as one year (some programs are longer), and start teaching as quickly as possible.
So, yes, with a bachelor’s degree in any subject, you can enroll in a state-approved teaching program. You will be expected to pass the entry requirements, including state exams.
This accelerated teacher’s certification program is for you if you want to make a mark in society but do not have time to undergo the traditional 4-5 year training to earn a degree in education.
In this article, we look at several ways in which you can start teaching as soon as possible and to help you fast-track your career as a teacher.
Reasons to Become a Teacher
Deciding to pursue a career involves weighing the pros and the cons. If you are considering a career in teaching, an appropriate question would be, ‘why teach’?
Here are seven great reasons to become a teacher;
- The growing demand for teachers– The Occupational Outlook Handbook projects the employment for middle and high school teachers to grow by 4% and 5%, respectively, from 2021 to 2031. The report also projects 47,300 openings for middle school teachers and about 77,900 for high school teachers annually, assuring us of sustained teacher demand.
- The opportunity to profoundly impact the lives of children- Teachers impact students beyond the classroom. Besides being an educator, you are a mentor, a friend, a parent, and a confidant to your students. 75% of teachers joined the teaching workforce to make a difference.
- The portability of the teaching credential- The credential is portable; you can move within states once you’re certified and even use your license to teach overseas. Most states have reciprocity agreements that allow you to move from one to another.
- The family-friendly work schedule- School routines and school holidays accommodates your family. If you have children, you’ll most likely be on the same day offs, which is excellent for spending time together. You’ll also get nearly eight weeks off each summer and paid time off in winter and spring, which you can use to develop yourself professionally, engage in your hobbies, or learn a skill.
- The incentives for continued education- Teaching grants you monetary and non-monetary incentives such as promotions, career progressions, and a rise in salary for professional development credits.
- The satisfaction of contributing to your community- Teachers are the backbone of society. They significantly improve the quality of life for individual students, the community, the country, and the world.
- An outlet for your creativity- As you creatively explore new ways of teaching, you provide your learners with an exciting and enlightening experience. You also create a positive state of your mind.
4 Ways to Become a Teacher in No Time
The traditional route of becoming a teacher is enrolling for a bachelor’s degree in education, which takes about four to five years.
But if you’d like to join this noble profession and don’t have the funds, the time, or the groove to get a bachelor’s degree in education, here are alternate certification programs that you can use to fast-track your teacher certification:
1. Enroll in a One-year Master’s Program.
This is ideal when you have a bachelor’s degree in another field and want to change your career to education. A one-year master’s program will help you acquire the foundational skills for education.
The program combines the study of educational pedagogy and hands-on experiences through working with students in classrooms.
The two main master’s programs leading to teaching are a Master of Arts in Teaching and a Master of Education.
The upside of going for the one-year master’s program is that you acquire your teaching credentials and your master’s degree simultaneously. Additionally, you’ll have a higher starting salary once you qualify to teach.
2. Pursue a Single-subject Teaching Degree.
Holders of a bachelor’s degree in a particular subject can pursue the single-subject teaching option.
This alternative certification program only allows one to use their existing degree to teach in the subject they are certified in. However, this will limit their scope of work to middle or high school classes.
For instance, if you hold a degree in mathematics, you can get a single-subject teaching degree allowing you to teach middle or high school math classes.
You will also be expected to pass an exam testing your basic reading, writing, and mathematics skills and demonstrate mastery of the subject if you want certification.
3. Obtain a School District Internship.
Prospective teachers take up student teaching programs as part of their degree programs. These programs allow them to gain practical classroom management skills while assisting certified teachers.
Some school districts also offer internships where prospective teachers enroll to serve in a classroom under internship without the requirement of initial teaching certification. As a student teacher, you’ll be assigned a mentor to guide and support your professional development journey.
The upside of this fast-track option is that you receive a full-time salary and benefits. Additionally, you may not incur tuition fees for your training if you work in the district for at least two years after completing your internship.
In addition to finishing your program in two years, you are also expected to pass all the state-set examinations and a background check to qualify you for licensure.
4. Teach at a Private School.
Teaching in a private institution does not require you to have a degree. Private schools are allowed to set their minimum teacher standards.
A bachelor’s degree in any subject may be adequate to jumpstart your teaching career in a private school.
Teaching in a private school will be a good opportunity for you to pursue certification while already earning.
Some states, for instance, California, allow teachers who have been in private institutions for three or more years to acquire teaching credentials without completing the teacher training program. And they can obtain single-subject or multiple-subject teaching certifications.
Steps to Becoming a Teacher
You have to take several steps to become a teacher in the U.S.A. Let’s explore them:
1. Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree.
A bachelor’s degree in education is the minimum requirement for becoming a teacher in most states. This traditional route takes four to five years of study.
Suppose you have a bachelor’s degree in another subject other than education. In that case, you can enroll in the alternative certification program and fast-track your process of becoming a teacher in your particular subject.
2. Get a Teaching Certificate.
A teaching certificate is a credential that allows trained teachers to teach in public schools. Teacher certification programs vary in length depending on your state’s recommendations. In some states, prospective teachers are expected to undertake internship programs as part of the certification requirement.
The certification program is a rigorous exercise that requires you to have the following:
- A bachelor’s degree in education
- Have completed an accredited teacher training program such as internships
- Passed a criminal background check for the age group you intend to teach.
- Shown enough content mastery and pedagogical knowledge through subject matter examinations such as Knowledge for Teaching Test Praxis tests, which are offered in some states to test
Different states have different certification requirements, and it’s good to find your state’s licensing requirements.
3. Complete the Core Curriculum of the Fast-track Certification Program.
The fast-track certification program will allow you to accelerate your transition from other subject areas to education. The programs can take between one to two years of rigorous learning.
You’ll be expected to learn the core pedagogical approaches to classroom instruction and management.
Alternative teacher certification programs may offer online, evening, or weekend programs that allow you to transition to teaching while working full-time.
You are then required to pass your state’s exams, primarily Praxis tests that teachers following the traditional route take for certification.
4. Apply for State Licensure for Teachers.
To teach in public schools, you must apply for your teaching certificate from your state’s Department of Education. The requirements for licensure vary from state to state to look into your state’s specific rules.
You are expected to have passed the general certification and subject tests for the subjects you are interested in teaching.
If you are taking the fast-tracking route into teaching, you’ll be granted full certification upon completing your alternative program. The licensure allows you to teach immediately on completion under the supervision of an experienced teacher.
Even if you are applying to teach in a private school, you could expand your employment options by obtaining certification in your respective state. However, this is not a mandatory requirement in private schools.
5. Apply for Teaching Jobs.
It is time to start earning from all your input and efforts to make a difference in students’ lives.
Ensure your resume is comprehensive, showing all your teaching experience and certifications.
Create a great cover letter that grabs the principal’s attention and will increase your chances of getting hired. Identify various ways of searching for jobs in your state. Consider the online portals of specific schools and school districts.
Also, check through the school’s specific website for teaching job listings. You can also use the job boards such as indeed, Linkedin, handshake, or glassdoor to look for open positions.
Go beyond the bachelor’s level. Some states may require evidence of continuing education for renewal of license. Acquiring a master’s degree will place you in a better position for career growth.
Alternative Certification Programs for Teachers
The alternative certification programs help individuals transitioning to the teaching field fast-track their teaching careers and get into paid teaching positions quickly.
They also help reduce the shortage of educators by offering individuals who have bachelor’s degrees in other areas a way of acquiring teaching credentials.
Here are some of the benefits of the alternative certification programs:
- Aspiring teachers can obtain graduate degrees in less than a year, setting them up for advancement opportunities beyond classroom teaching.
- Educators get the opportunity to be mentored by experienced teachers while earning.
- Alternative certification programs offer flexible schedules, including online, evening, and part-time courses.
Alternative Certification Requirements
Teachers seeking to be certified under that alternative certification program must satisfy some requirements that are unique to each state.
In most states, teachers are required to:
- Complete a teacher preparation program approved by the state where they want to seek certification.
- Apply for a provisional teaching certificate to complete supervised teaching under an internship.
- Pass the state’s exams for prospective educators to measure your pedagogical knowledge and mastery of teaching content. The Praxis tests are the most adopted exams for certification though some states like California and Texas have unique qualifying exams.
- Apply for a full teaching certificate.
Alternative Certification Program Types
Different states have unique pathways for fast-tracking certification to education. But, most require one to complete an accredited teacher preparation program.
Here’s the most common route to alternative certification in education:
- Certification through a formal alternative teacher preparation program– Enables graduates without a degree in education to join the teaching field in a shorter, more intensive way.
- Transition to Teaching(T2T)- This program assumes that a candidate already possesses knowledge in the licensing area. They offer 18 hours of coursework for secondary education, 24 hours for elementary, early childhood education, and P-12 education. To enroll, you must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution of higher learning.
- National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certification– The board develops, retains, and appreciates accomplished teachers who have completed the certification process. It is a voluntary teaching credential whose significance surpasses state licensure.
- Career and technical education certification(CTE)– This qualification allows you to teach various technical subjects, such as dental assisting, cosmetology, vehicle maintenance, and plumbing.
- Emergency and provisional teaching certification– Permits a teacher to serve as a substitute teacher as a temporary way of dealing with the shortage of teachers. Candidates without an education degree are allowed after getting the emergency certification from the state.
- In-district training– An alternative teaching certification that involves teacher training within districts. A candidate may be granted a temporary or limited teaching credential during their mentorship or training program. Candidates must have a bachelor’s degree in the subject they wish to teach.
- Teaching equivalency and portfolio evaluations– Some states offer alternative routes based on teaching equivalency or portfolio evaluations. Educators with bachelor’s degrees who have taught in private or postsecondary schools where licensing is not mandatory can be certified as teachers after passing the state licensing examination.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Teacher?
Typically, it takes four years to acquire a bachelor’s degree in education and become a teacher. Additional time will be spent acquiring teaching experiences through internships and taking licensing examinations.
Aspiring teachers with bachelor’s degrees can become teachers in less than a year in some states.
Here are the steps to becoming a teacher once you have a bachelor’s degree;
- Complete a teacher preparation program that is approved by your state
- Apply for a provisional teaching certificate
- Pass your state’s exams
- Apply for a full teaching certificate
Salary Expectations for Teachers
The median salary for a Public School Teacher with a Bachelor’s Degree is $52,161 – $57,704.
Teachers can earn a pay rise by acquiring additional education. The NCTQ shows that teachers with a master’s degree earn approximately $5,285 more annually than those with a bachelor’s degree.
Teachers with a bachelor’s degree can further their education later by pursuing a master’s degree.
Ready to Become a Teacher?
A teaching career allows you to significantly influence students’ lives while having a great work-life balance.
It is also a chance for you to make a meaningful contribution to the community while having high job security.
If this is your career path, check out our certification options with Teachers of Tomorrow, which will provide foundational training, ensuring that you meet all the qualifications for certification as a teacher.