How Do You Get Your Teaching Credential?

Are you in the process of earning your education degree? Have you been curious about how to obtain your teaching credentials after you graduate? While you are attending school to earn your teaching degree, you will often begin your process to earn certification, but some requirements must wait until you have earned your degree. We will discuss what prerequisites are required for earning your teaching credentials to become a fully licensed teacher.

Step One: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Education

The first step to complete in order to become a licensed teacher is to earn your bachelor’s degree and or master’s degree in education. These programs will prepare you in areas such as classroom management, special needs education techniques and content area lesson plan development.

In addition to taking education courses, each future teacher will need to complete several weeks of student teaching in the grade level and content area they are going to college for. Student teaching is the first hands on experience you will get with creating lesson plans, implementing classroom rules, keeping track of student records and interacting with fellow teachers and school administrators.

Some bachelors of education graduates may choose to attend graduate school to earn a master’s degree to further their education. Teachers with a master’s degree earn a higher salary than those with only a bachelor’s degree. With a master’s degree, school districts may be more interested in hiring you as opposed to someone with an undergraduate degree in education.

You can earn a bachelor’s degree in education at a state or private college or university. In addition to traditional brick and mortar colleges, some individuals choose to take courses with an online college to earn their degree. No matter which path you choose, you must at least earn a bachelor’s degree to be eligible to become a teacher.

Step One, Option Two: Alternative Teacher Certification Programs

Every state provides alternative certification programs and are sometimes called lateral entry. This means that an individual who already has obtained a bachelor’s degree in another field besides education can complete some simple requirements to be eligible for a teaching license.

Most of these alternative plans involve attending education courses and completion of teacher credential exams. For someone interested in a career change to teaching, this program can be an excellent option. Some of the alternative certification programs even offer the option to earn your master’s degree in education.

Step Two: Pass Required Teacher Credential Exams

Either just before you graduate or after you have earned your bachelor’s or master’s in education, you must take the required teacher credential exams. Each state has a different requirement as far as which test you will take and what score you must get to pass the test for that state. Educational Testing Service and Pearson are the two main companies that develop teaching credential exams for teaching licensure requirements.

The Praxis Series tests are used more frequently because they are national standardized tests that are not different from state to state. This helps keep reciprocity with other states so a teacher can become certified in other states easier if they decide to move or seek employment in another state. Most states feel that the Praxis exams adequately assess a teacher’s knowledge of their content area and how to be an effective teacher.

Some states, like Georgia, require teachers to take a test designed only for their state. The Georgia Assessments for the Certification of Educators (GACE) is a test that all teachers in Georgia must pass in order to be eligible for state certification. The Georgia Professional Standards Commission works alongside a division of Pearson to develop and administer this exam.

Step Three: Applying for Your Teaching License

When you apply for your teaching license in the state you are going to seek employment, you will want to be certain you have completed all the necessary prerequisites for that license. Research all of the paperwork and fees that are needed to include with your license application.

Normally, most states would request a copy of your college transcripts, your teaching credential exam scores and an application fee. You can find more information by contacting the state department of public instruction.

I Have a Teaching License: Now What?

The only step left after acquiring your teaching license is to find a teaching job. Teaching jobs can be found on the websites of the district in which you are looking for employment. Job listings may also be posted in the newspaper or on job recruiting websites. You will need to fill out the required application and either mail a physical copy of the application or submit it online. Each school district has its own application and required paperwork needed to apply for a job. Almost all school districts choose to perform a background check after your interview but before you are hired. Teaching can be an extremely challenging and rewarding career choice.


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