Figuring out how to get your teaching credentials may feel like a daunting task if you have many questions about what they are and what requirements may be asked of you to receive them. People receive their teaching credentials in order to teach in schools. Individuals may be interested in teaching because it gives them the ability to impact the lives of their students and the communities they’re involved in. In order to teach, you must first obtain your degree, and then you will have to gain your teaching credentials. This goes for teaching in kindergarten, elementary school, high school, and special education. 

What are Teaching Credentials?

Teaching credentials are certifications for individuals who have completed a bachelor’s degree, teacher education, and either basic or single-subject testing for the state they are wanting to teach in. They are required in the United States in order to be a valid candidate for teaching in public schools, however, the necessary steps to receive them vary by state. For example, in California, it is required that individuals also pass the California Basic Educational Skills test. Teaching credentials are essential because of the position of authority that teachers are in. They are in charge of children throughout the nation, thus the government has expectations of the states, and the states have implemented them.

teacher credentials

What Are the Requirements for Teaching Credentials?

The specific requirements for teaching credentials can vary by state, however, the general requirements include obtaining a bachelor’s degree and completing a certified teacher education program. In the United States, it is required that teachers are licensed in order to teach in public schools. 

The rules for getting teaching credentials is set by a state’s board of education, and typically consist of a standardized exam. This exam measures an individual’s competency in a basic set of skills. Other requirements typically are individualized to the state. For exam, some states will require that teaching candidates receive their degree in the subject that they are wanting to teach, while other states require individual certification per subject or per grade that an individual is hoping to teach. Below is a list of teaching credentials that an individual can pursue: 

  • Early childhood education certification – This certification can cover teaching children ages from birth through preschool depending on state and school. 
  • Elementary education certification – This certification can cover teaching children in grades 1 to 4-7, depending on the state and school. 
  • Middle school certification – This certification can cover teaching children in grades 6-8, depending on the state and school.
  • Secondary education certification – This certification can cover teaching individuals in grades 9-12, depending on the state and school. 
  • Single subject teaching credential – This certification allows individuals to teach a specific subject. 

How Long Does It Take to Get Teaching Credentials?

How long it takes to get teaching credentials can vary depending on the state, however, there are certain steps that remain similar across the board. Below are these steps for getting teaching credentials: 

  1. Completing a bachelor’s degree in teaching or education, or completing a bachelor’s degree and then completing a post-baccalaureate teacher education program – This ensures that individuals have the proper educational background to pursue teaching. 
  2. Passing the required competency examinations – this may be a simple basic skills test, or completing a series of tests including basic skills and specialty areas – These examinations, set as requirements by the state, are for testing individual’s proficiency in teaching basic knowledge or specific subjects to children. 
  3. Completing your state’s official application for a teaching credential – Once you have completed all requirements, it’s time to apply for teaching credentials!
  4. Paying fees – Most teaching credentials require payment in order to obtain them. 
  5. Agreeing to a background check and submitting your fingerprints – Just like any other job, it’s important that individuals undergo a background check before being hired. This consists of answering questions about previous employment and a criminal record. 

A traditional program, taken at a college or a university, typically takes four to five years to complete. Additionally, if the program requires internships, the program may take longer depending on the program that you choose. 

Alternative Licensure Programs for Teachers

Some states allow alternative licensure programs for Teachers like Teachers of Tomorrow. Teachers of Tomorrow is a self-paced program, meaning individuals are able to complete requirements as fast or as slow as they like. These alternative programs are offered to teaching candidates who do not have the experience required for a traditional licensure path. It is for individuals who interested in getting teaching credentials, who usually have their bachelor’s degree, but may not have taken education courses needed for the traditional certification programs.

Teaching candidates who are recent college graduates who did not decide to become teachers until after receiving their degree, as well as, individuals changing their careers, are some of the many individuals who would benefit greatly from an alternative program. These programs typically consist of working immediately in a classroom under the supervision of a licensed teacher. This happens at the same time as an individual is taking required coursework, giving them not only knowledge from courses but from in-person experience as well. 

how to get teachers credentials

Get Your Teaching Credentials

Now that you understand how to get your teaching credentials and what teaching credentials are, you are ready to begin your journey to pursuing them. Remember, if you are wanting to teach in a classroom, you must have teaching credentials. Learn more about teaching credentials and the certification options that will be the best fit for you.