Becoming a Teacher

Licensing and Certification

The helpful information below on the basics of licensure and certification is reproduced with the kind permission of Recruiting New Teachers, Inc. (RNT). Established in 1986, RNT works to raise esteem for teaching, expand the pool of qualified teachers, and promote strategies for effective teacher recruitment, development, and retention.

Licensing/Certification Requirements

Each state sets its own teacher licensure/certification requirements. Most states require that teachers pass a licensing test. To find the most up-to-date information about state licensure/certification, visit the appropriate state agency's website.

Despite differences in state licensure requirements, most agree that teacher candidates should:

  • Have at least a bachelor's degree, and, in some states, a fifth year or master's degree.
  • Complete an approved, accredited education program.
  • Have a major or minor in education (for elementary education teaching).
  • Have a major in the subject area in which they plan to teach (for middle and high school teaching).
Alternative Routes to Teacher Certification

Alternative certification is an umbrella term for a wide range of programs that offer nontraditional routes to becoming a teacher. For example, there are teacher preparation programs for mid-career adults and paraprofessionals who want to become teachers and may have had valuable work experience in another field. There also are national programs that provide nontraditional routes to teaching for recent college graduates.

According to the National Center for Education Information, candidates who become licensed/certified through alternative routes usually have a bachelor's degree, go through a screening process, are trained on the job while taking courses, and meet high standards of performance.

For information about alternative routes to teacher certification in your state, visit the appropriate state agency. For more background about alternative routes to teacher certification programs, visit the National Center for Education Information. This organization offers data and the most up-to-date information about alternative certification programs across the country.

For More Information...

See also Finding a Teaching Job, Building a Professional Portfolio, and Resources & References. To find job listings for teachers, visit RNT's Job Bank.

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